The most important function of our blood is to deliver oxygen from our lungs to the farthest parts of our body while removing carbon dioxide and other waste products. When your circulatory system is functioning properly, the arteries are bringing nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood away from the heart to the cells of the body, and the venous system is bringing carbon dioxide and toxins to the organs, heart and lungs to be expelled. Often, poor circulation is a result of other conditions like obesity, diabetes, heart disease or chronic venous insufficiency.
Normal aging causes a reduction in total body water, which means there is less fluid in the bloodstream and therefore decreased blood volume. Aging also increases the risk for a buildup of plaque, a sticky substance made up of fat and cholesterol, in the arteries. This plaque causes the arteries to harden, a condition known as atherosclerosis, which results in poor circulation in the legs.
Symptoms of poor circulation
Common indicators you may be suffering from poor circulation in the legs include:
- Muscle pain, stiffness or weakness
- Numbness or cramping in the legs
- A “pins and needles” sensation in your feet
- Heavy sensation in the legs
- Swelling in the feet and/or ankles
- Skin discoloration or thickening, especially around the ankles
- Cold sensation in the feet
Seven ways to improve blood circulation in your legs
There are several ways to improve blood circulation in your legs and feet. You can start reducing your risk factors by making healthy lifestyle changes such as:
- Move your body
One of the best things you can do to improve circulation is to exercise regularly. Taking a brisk walk down the street or around the block can significantly improve your circulatory health. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should participate in 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Quit smoking
Smoking causes plaque to build up and harden the inside of the arteries. As your arteries harden, it becomes more difficult for blood to flow freely.
- Eat well
Diet plays an important role in good circulation. Trans fats, saturated fats, excess salt and added sugars can all negatively impact circulation. Eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oily fish and nuts may help improve circulation.
- Stay hydrated
When you’re dehydrated, the body stores energy by decreasing blood circulation. Keep your blood flowing by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Elevate legs
Elevating your legs above or at heart level for about 15 minutes 3 times a day will help keep the blood from pooling in your lower legs, reduce swelling and improve blood flow to the rest of your body.
- Wear compression stockings
If you have swelling in your lower legs, compression stockings will reduce swelling and the risk of blood clots. They are specially designed to apply pressure to your lower legs, which helps maintain blood flow and reduce discomfort.
- Visit a vein care specialist
A vein care specialist will diagnose any conditions, prescribe any medications you might need and develop an actionable treatment plan for managing your poor circulation.
Improving circulation is key to overall vein health and comfort. Try adding one or two healthy lifestyle changes to your daily routine to improve vein health, leg pain and circulation.
If you are concerned about your circulation and would like to get your vein circulation issue treated, contact Carolina Vein Specialists at 336-536-6522. We offer several advanced treatment options and use only the most advanced and effective methods.