A woman lies on her back on the floor and stretches her left leg up.
The best exercises for swollen legs
Are your legs swollen and not as nice and supple as you would like them to be? Many women dream of long, slender model legs, only some of us are not granted this due to swelling and water retention. Don't despair - there are indeed measures you can take to solve this problem.
Published ON
March 30, 2022

With our top 10 tips, you will soon be closer to your ideal image of slim legs:

What does the doctor say?

Swelling - the medical term is edema - has many different causes. Some of these are more harmless than others. In certain cases, swollen legs can be a sign that something is indeed wrong. Swollen joints could be an indication that you've been sitting in one position for too long, are going through premenstrual changes, are pregnant, or are consuming too much salt. If you notice any unusual changes, get them checked out to rule out any more serious problems and to be safe. Physically, blood vessels (known as capillaries) swell when fluid leaks out. The fluid builds up in the surrounding tissues and this causes swelling. Edema puts extra strain on your heart and kidneys - this can affect you in the long run. It is therefore better if you take the situation seriously and have the edema checked - as early as possible.

1. Get active

Once you've had your doctor's check-up, it's time to get going. The best weapon in the fight against water in your legs is a very simple one: walking. If you move your legs, blood circulation improves and the fluid that has escaped can flow back. There are many benefits to using an elliptical machine or treadmill, but you can also combine walking exercise at the gym with a walk outside. In the gym you can keep track of the distance and control the number of climbs. The best way to start is with a 30-minute workout three or four times a week. You can then add five minutes to your workout each week (and increase the incline). In this way you guarantee a slow build-up.

2. Anti-swelling exercises

In addition to walking and running training, there are a number of brilliant exercises against water accumulation in the tissue. Do this a few times a day until you see improvement.

  • Leg Raises: Hold onto a chair and raise and extend one leg behind you - keeping the knee straight. Repeat this exercise as often as your doctor has told you.
  • Calf stretch: Still holding onto the chair, slowly push yourself up onto your toes - hold for a few seconds and lower again. The stretch you will feel in your calves will push the fluid up and away from your lower leg.

3. Feet up

Yes, we encourage you to run/walk more - but you are allowed to put your feet up from time to time. As you relax, raise your feet to about above your heart. This allows the liquid to flow back and you can relax in peace.

4. Massage

Check with your doctor first, but once they agree, treat yourself to a massage, as this can be a great way to stimulate your lymphatic system. The massage doesn't have to be deep or painful - simple, gentle movements are enough to get the fluid in towards the lymph glands and thus activate the system. Need more reasons?

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5. "Desalate" yourself!

Ingesting too much salt could be to blame for water retention. If you eat a lot of salt in general, then reduce it and always check the hidden salt content in ready meals. Cook yourself as often as possible and always prepare fresh dishes. Better to leave the salt shaker in the cupboard.

6. Drink more water

This may sound contradictory, but drinking water helps against water in the tissues. It greatly enhances the body's elimination systems and also eliminates all the waste that has accumulated in the body. Staying hydrated has other benefits too: you'll be more focused and have more energy. Drink eight to ten tall glasses of water a day. It is best to empty your recommended daily amount of water into a jug and keep it in the fridge. So you know exactly how much water you should drink. For a better taste, just add lemons, oranges, limes or cucumbers.

7. The power of plants

Natural diuretics are a gentle and healthy way to help flush fluid back into tissues. Try diuretic herbs like dandelion, licorice root, and elderberry, or increase your intake of celery, artichoke, grapes, and parsley. Green tea and cranberry juice are great alternatives to water if you prefer multiple flavors.

8. Increase potassium levels

Unfortunately, diuretics can remove potassium in the body in addition to tissue fluid, so supplement with this nutrient and increase your consumption of bananas, raisins, and kidney beans. These foods are all naturally high in potassium.

9. Take a full bath

Brilliant and time-tested remedies, Epsom salts are anything but a wives tale. Run warm (not too hot) water in the tub, add a handful of Epsom Salts and relax. Swelling can result from a lack of magnesium and soaking the body in Epsom Salts water will help it absorb it precious mineral. You will soon be able to look forward to your slender joints and legs.

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