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Elevating Your Legs For Swelling (The Right Way)

Feb 7

Elevating Your Legs for Swelling

Elevating your legs helps to reduce swelling. It also soothes muscle tension and relieves pressure.

Swelling is caused by fluid that shifts from inside blood vessels to surrounding body tissues in a small amount all the time.

However, if the lymphatic system can’t keep up with these shifts, fluid can accumulate in your muscles and other tissue. This may cause a painful condition called edema.

1. Reduces Pressure on the Veins

When you stand or sit for long periods of time, your veins become overloaded with blood. This extra pressure can dilate your leg veins and cause the formation of varicose or spider veins. This condition can be uncomfortable and lead to chronic venous disease.

When these veins are under pressure, they’re unable to pump blood back up toward the heart as they should. Instead, blood pools and builds up. This is called edema and it can affect your legs, ankles, feet, and even your arms.

A clot inside your leg vein can also cause a buildup of pressure. This type of clot blocks the flow of blood through the vein and can eventually result in permanent damage to the valves in your leg veins.

Excess weight or obesity can also increase pressure in your veins. This can lead to varicose veins and other venous problems if left untreated.

Symptoms of chronic venous disease can include swollen and tired legs and ankles, especially after long periods of standing or sitting. This swelling can be reduced by elevating your legs on a regular basis.

Elevating your legs for a few minutes several times a day may be enough to reduce edema in most people with venous disease. However, if you have severe chronic venous disease, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatments.

For best results, elevate your legs six to 12 inches above your heart. Place pillows under your legs, not just the ankles. You can also use an elevated pillow to help your blood circulate more effectively and decrease edema.

2. Increases Blood Flow

Elevating your legs above the level of your heart is an easy and inexpensive way to improve circulation. This simple routine will help reduce inflammation, limb swelling, and varicose veins while also preventing deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolisms, two serious health conditions that can be life-threatening.

Your veins, arteries, and muscles work together to transport oxygen-depleted blood from your legs back to your heart. Unlike your arteries, which move blood through your body using tiny valves and the contraction of surrounding muscles, your veins return blood to the heart by working against gravity. When your legs are resting on the ground, gravity forces your veins to work harder than they should to get blood to the heart.

When your legs are elevated, gravity helps improve blood flow by allowing excess fluid to drain away more effectively. This also makes it easier to keep the swelling from increasing, which can be helpful if you have an injury or certain health conditions that can cause swollen legs or feet.

You can use a chair, stool, foot rest, or pillow to elevate your legs above the level of your heart. However, be careful not to use a hard surface like a table or desk because this can increase pressure and harm circulation.

Putting your legs up on a hard surface can also cause pain, bruising, spider veins, and nerve damage. It’s better to use a supportive pillow to prevent these effects.

Taking the time to elevate your legs for 20 minutes a day is an effective and affordable way to improve blood flow in your veins, and it also relieves stress, lowers your heart rate, and allows you to relax. It’s important to take the time to do this every day, and it will pay off in the long run!

3. Soothes Muscle Tension

If you are suffering from pain or stiffness in your legs, elevating your leg may soothe the muscles and help them relax. This is especially useful if you are on your feet all day.

When you are on your feet all day, blood has to pump harder and more efficiently throughout your body, which can cause muscle tension. By putting your leg up a few times each day, you can alleviate this pain and allow your muscles to relax.

Elevating your leg can also be helpful in managing certain health conditions, such as varicose veins. This can reduce swelling, encourage fluid to move from the swollen areas towards the rest of your body, and promote better circulation.

Despite its benefits, this technique is not for everyone. Those with certain conditions, such as Congestive Heart Failure and Peripheral Arterial Disease, should consult their doctor before elevating their legs.

The most important thing to remember when practicing this technique is to elevate your leg above your heart. This will give you the most benefit.

You can do this by using a pillow or a sofa arm. Just be sure to use a supportive pillow that doesn’t put too much pressure on the legs or back.

To keep from overdoing it, start out with 20 minutes twice a day and gradually increase the frequency as you see improvement. It may take a few days for you to get a feel for how frequently your legs should be elevated.

You can also elevate your legs for sleep by sleeping in a position with your legs raised slightly. This can improve blood flow and decrease swelling while you sleep.

4. Prevents Deep-Vein Thrombosis

If you have chronic venous insufficiency, elevating your legs for swelling is an at-home treatment that can help improve symptoms. Taking a few minutes each day to elevate your legs, or even sleeping with your legs and feet elevated, can help alleviate leg pain, discomfort, and swollen ankles and feet.

If the veins in your legs don’t get a break from working against gravity, they can become weakened and cause blood to pool in your legs, which affects your blood circulation. This can be a warning sign of bigger vascular, liver, or kidney issues that are more serious and should be taken seriously.

Elevating your legs for a few minutes each day can help prevent deep-vein thrombosis, also known as DVT. It occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein, usually the lower leg or thigh, but it can happen in other parts of the body.

When the clot breaks loose, it can travel through your bloodstream to the lungs and form a pulmonary embolus (PE). This is dangerous and needs treatment right away.

The best way to avoid DVT is to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and keep up with a regular schedule. Losing weight and avoiding activities that limit blood flow in your veins are other ways to minimize risk.

You can also use compression stockings to minimize swollen ankles and feet by as much as 50%. This is particularly helpful for people who spend a lot of time sitting or standing on their feet.

Another great reason to elevate your legs for swollen feet and ankles is that it allows excess blood to drain. This is important for improving symptoms of varicose veins and preventing DVT.

5. Prevents Pulmonary Embolisms

When your legs are elevated, they can help improve blood flow in your veins. This can prevent blood clots from developing and causing long-term health problems.

If you're recovering from surgery, a health condition or injury, it is important to elevate your legs above the level of your heart. This may be done using a pillow or by simply resting your legs on the floor.

Elevating your legs can also help prevent pulmonary embolisms from occurring by keeping your blood circulating properly and eliminating the possibility of a blood clot in one of your arteries. This is particularly helpful if you have risk factors for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can increase the likelihood of a pulmonary embolism occurring.

People who are confined to bed for long periods of time following surgery, a trauma, a heart attack or other serious illness are at increased risk of clots in the legs. This can be prevented by getting up and moving around as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism can vary depending on the size of the clots and whether they are in your lungs or heart, but they are generally shortness of breath that comes on suddenly. Coughing up bloody sputum can also be a sign of a pulmonary embolism, as can chest pain and trouble breathing.

Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening medical emergency and should be treated promptly. It can lead to permanent lung damage or death, if it is not treated in time.

A leg elevation pillow can help increase venous blood flow and dissolve blood clots more quickly or prevent them from forming in the first place. This is particularly important if you are at risk for DVT, which can significantly increase your chances of a pulmonary embolism.