If swollen legs syndrome is not specific to summer, this ailment becomes more frequent when the thermometer rises and complicates the lives of those who suffer from it. Especially when it’s very hot, the problem of swollen legs gets worse, together with tiredness, stiffness and an unpleasant feeling of heaviness.
In most cases, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet (peripheral oedema) is the result of a buildup of fluid: lymph stagnates in the feet or legs, which swell. Not just an unpleasant sensation, swelling in the legs and ankles can be a visible problem, unpleasant from an aesthetic point of view but above all, painful and also very limiting in daily life.
Therefore, the solution is to get back on track, that is to practice constant physical activity (even a simple walk every day), maintain a healthy weight (or regain it) and choose the right diet to deflate your legs, bringing to the table foods capable to improve the microcirculation, promote diuresis and purify toxins.
Swollen legs: symptoms
Swollen legs are the result of excess fluid from blood and lymph vessels. Hence, the accumulation of water in the tissue (called peripheral edema) makes the skin feel tight to the touch. In fact, the sign of the fovea (dimple) is also noted: by pushing on the edema, a depression remains which persists for a few minutes.
But, the swelling in the legs is accentuated especially in the evening. Symptoms are:
- Heavy legs.
- Difficulty putting on shoes.
- Pain in the legs or ankles.
Also, edema can manifest itself in different ways. These differences help to understand what the causes may be:
- Edema can appear in one leg or both.
- Swelling is in one part of the leg (for example, the knee, ankle or instep) or all over.
- Swelling is sudden and lasts for a short time (a few days) or it is progressive and persists for a longer period of time (a few weeks).
Other disorders that frequently accompany edema are:
- Feeling of heaviness.
- Pins and needles.
- Muscle cramps.
- Calf pain at night.
- Hyperthermia (increased body temperature).
- Difficulty walking.
Swollen and aching legs: what are the causes?
An ailment to which an unhealthy lifestyle and incorrect diet can contribute, which increase the workload of the veins. In fact, among the bad habits and predisposing conditions there are:
- Eat salty foods.
- Spending too much time sitting or leading a sedentary lifestyle.
- Wear high heels and tight clothing.
- Being overweight.
- Suffering from diabetes and high cholesterol.
They are all risk factors for the health and lightness of your legs.
Most common causes
The cause is often bad circulation, i.e. an alteration of the microcirculation of the lower limbs. In fact, this causes the blood to struggle to go back to the heart and tends to stagnate in the legs, causing not only swelling but also poor oxygenation of the tissues, with fragility and dilation of veins and capillaries, water retention and cellulite.
Usually, when your feet and legs swell, it’s a problem with:
- Water retention.
- Venous insufficiency in the lower limbs.
Furthermore, in the heat, the blood vessels dilate, as a consequence of the higher body temperature. The problem is that, with the dilated vessels, the blood struggles to go back to the heart after having reached the lower limbs, where it therefore tends to stagnate.
But, edema can also be the result of poor circulation of the lymph, a clear liquid that circulates in the body and is responsible for eliminating toxins and metabolic waste.
Some medicines such as cortisone or amlodipine can cause leg swelling. However, you should never stop a prescribed treatment without talking to your doctor. Only he can determine if the medicine you are taking may be causing the swelling in your legs and if it is appropriate to stop the treatment or replace the medicine causing the discomfort.
Often the causes are benign and are due to high temperatures in summer and long periods of standing or sitting.
It should also be said that women are more prone to this disorder because leg swelling is related to the menstrual cycle. Not only that, it is also one of the frequent ailments in pregnancy.
Swollen legs during pregnancy
The last months of pregnancy are marked by a rather frequent ailment: swollen and painful legs and ankles. In summer, the situation tends to get worse.
The annoyance is unfortunately inevitable, given the weight gain and hormonal changes, which lead to greater water retention and worsening circulation. However, you can implement some good practices that allow you to stem or partially relieve the feeling of swelling.
If you suffer from swollen legs during pregnancy, it is very important to follow a diet low in fat, sodium and sugar.
If you are interested in the topic, discover the hyposodic diet.
Instead, prefer a diet rich in fiber with fruit, vegetables, cereals to promote intestinal activity.
Yes also to folic acid (contained in all dark green vegetables, meat, legumes and dried fruit), iron and calcium. It is also important to drink plenty of water. To help circulation, eat berries or drink cranberry juice.
Summer is certainly difficult for a woman in the final months of pregnancy to deal with, but it also offers the opportunity to exercise at no cost. Therefore, a half hour walk by the sea, taking advantage of the natural hydromassage of the sea currents, is perfect for dissolving water retention and reactivating circulation.
If you have the ok from your gynecologist, go swimming in the sea or in the pool. Swimming is also a pleasant and easy sport to practice, given that in the water the weight of the belly will vanish to give some relief to the legs, but also to the back.
Diet to fight swollen legs
Nutrition plays an important role in fighting swollen legs. First of all, it is essential to maintain your ideal weight (or regain it) and choose the right diet to deflate your legs. Avoid salty foods because too much salt increases water retention, thus causing bloat.
Bring to the table foods that can improve microcirculation, promote diuresis and purify toxins.
Therefore, green light to the draining and anti-inflammatory effect of fruit and vegetables, to conquer lighter legs at the table. In fact, their vitamins and the antioxidants they are rich in tone and protect the veins.
Prefer seasonal fruit and vegetables, especially cucumbers, celery, radicchio and salads in general, green beans and onions, all very rich in water and, therefore, also with a diuretic and purifying action.
Vitamin C and anthocyanins to promote circulation
When the body doesn’t get enough vitamin C, the immune system doesn’t do its job at its best, the capillaries tend to be more fragile and you are more exposed to the risk of edema and heaviness. Dangers that you can avoid by eating foods rich in this vitamin, especially:
- citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grapefruit).
Anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants of the flavonoid family, of which red fruits are rich, also take care of keeping the walls of the capillaries strong and promoting microcirculation in the veins, such as:
Include foods rich in fiber in your diet because they accelerate intestinal transit and thus help you purify yourself but also reduce water retention, and therefore swelling.
Fruits and vegetables supply many fibers, essential for regulating the activities of the intestine. Sometimes, in fact, swelling in the legs can be linked to its malfunctioning, which can result in the absorption of substances that can give rise to inflammatory phenomena with edema.
Furthermore, more fibers contribute to a lower absorption of fats and sugars and this helps to control blood sugar and cholesterol levels and to counteract overweight.
Whole grains are also excellent, which thanks to their high satiety index also help you control portions and keep fit.
So if you:
- Wholemeal pasta.
Drink plenty to fight swelling
Drinking at least 2 liters of water (part of which can be made up of green tea or other unsweetened herbal teas) helps you get rid of the toxins that stagnate in your blood vessels.
Drinking a lot also facilitates drainage and counteracts water retention.
What sport to practice to reactivate the venous pump?
Physical activity works the leg muscles and improves venous return. If you don’t like sports, your best bet is walking. So, try to walk at least half an hour a day and adopt an active lifestyle.
Also, remember to stretch your legs to activate blood circulation, so walk barefoot whenever you can.
Effective sports to deflate the legs:
- I swim.
- Light gymnastics.
- Water aerobics.
Instead, avoid all sports that make you jump and violent and prolonged exercises because they damage blood circulation:
The best exercises to fight swollen legs
1 – Exercise to reactivate the plantar pump
The exercise par excellence to do at home to reactivate the plantar pump. Lying on your back, legs straight in the air, perform plantar flexions as if you were pressing on the accelerator, then bring your big toes towards you.
Repetitions: 30 times.