I have suffered from severe restless leg syndrome for over 30 years, so taking care of my legs has always been important to me. As an avid traveler, I know the toll that standing and walking for long hours, followed by long periods of immobility can take. Daily life can really beat up your lower extremities and it’s important to have a routine to relieve tired legs and feet.
There are many issues that can contribute to leg fatigue. Some of the most significant issues include causes that effect the circulatory system. When you are standing all day, circulation in the lower part of the body has to work extra hard to return blood to your heart. This can cause swelling and aching in feet and legs because cellular fluids leak from the blood vessels into surrounding the tissues and your lymphatic system struggles to keep up. Let’s take a look at some helpful solutions.
Proactive Tips To Relieve Tired Legs and Feet
When talking about leg fatigue, swelling, and edema the best case scenario is to avoid it in the first place. However, that isn’t always realistic, especially for people living with chronic illnesses.
Check Your Diet
I’m not preaching here by any means, but keeping your diet in check can help to avoid this problem in the first place. Excess salt consumption can be a key factor in excess swelling. The recommended amount of sodium consumption that people need is 10 grams for men and 8 grams for women. If you feel like you’re a bit on the salty side, cut back and up your potassium with foods like spinach, avocados, and bananas. Food rich in magnesium such as nuts, whole grains, and dark chocolate will also help to reduce water retention. Increasing your fluid intake to stay well hydrated is another great way to help lower the concentration of salt in your body. Try and consume at least 6-8 8oz. glasses of water a day.
Compression socks and calf sleeves are a long held secret of athletes and medical professionals. They help to treat everything from leg fatigue to chronic disorders such as venous insufficiency (CVI), varicose veins, lymphedema and Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS). Compression socks work by enhancing the legs’ natural pumping mechanism by squeezing the leg. This encourages blood to flow back up to the heart.
Compression socks great for people who are on their feet for the long haul. They also help to prevent blood clots from developing in the legs during travel. Limited leg room on aircraft and staying in one position for a long period of time increases travelers risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) , a serious type of blood clot
These days, you can find compression socks can in many stores in either tan or black. To put more personality in your footwear, try your local running store to find exciting patterns and colors.
Switching Out Pairs Of Shoes
One of the best ways to reduce foot pain and leg fatigue is to make sure you have several pairs of supportive footwear. Yes, friends, I hear-by give you permission to go out and by lots of shoes. Changing footwear from day to day helps to work different muscles in your legs and feet via subtle design differences. So switching the pairs of shoes that you wear on a daily basis helps keep your feet and legs fresh by changing up pressure points and giving your body time to recover.
Bringing several pairs of shoes is an especially great travel tip for when you will be doing a lot of walking during vacation.
Pamper Your Tired Legs and Feet
Of course, sometimes the swelling sneaks up on you. That’s when you’re left wondering “Now what?” and hoping that the pain will be gone in the morning. I’ve got some fantastic tips to help get you back in shape to take on whatever is next!
Hit the Water
Soak your tired legs at the end of the night to get the blood circulating. The warmth of the water relaxes the mind and promotes the healing of tense muscles. While soaking in the water, slowly stretch out your stiff muscles by alternately flexing and pointing your feet repeatedly.
Add some scented Epsom salts to your bath for a boost in luxury. Many people believe that the magnesium in Epsom salt helps to decrease inflammation and swelling when absorbed through the skin. There aren’t a lot of studies to prove that Epsom salt soaks have benefits beyond generally soaking in warm water. That being said, fans of the salt soaks swear by the practice.
In addition, if you have the opportunity to spend 15-30 minutes with your whole body in a pool, the hydrostatic pressure will help to relieve pain and swelling. When traveling, this is a great reason to splurge on that hotel with the amazing pool.
Elevate Your Feet
Elevating your legs helps relieve the pressure that has built up after a day in the parks. Propping your legs up with a few extra pillows at night helps fluids that have backed up flow more easily. The best practice when it comes to elevating your legs is the Viparita Karani pose, otherwise known as lie down on your back and put your legs straight up the wall.
Elevation of the lower limbs is often prescribed for health problems characterized by a pooling of interstitial fluids. The reason it works can be summed up in one word – gravity. This position gives your lymphatic system a bit of a helping hand by allowing fluids to flow back to where they need to be.
This simple yoga pose is one of my favorite self-care tips of all time. The pose helps me by reducing pain, and forcing me to take a break to relax. Hot, humid locations may be a tropical paradise but my feet and legs take the environment as a challenge to retain water. When I travel I start my morning and end my night with my legs up the wall for 15 – 30 minutes. If I go back to my room to change for dinner, I fit in a short session then to. I started doing this pose as part of my travel practice, and now I use it at home too.
As a fibromyalgia patient, I was pretty nervous when I had my first massage. But a good rub down can help restore circulation to tired muscles and keep you moving. My advice is to start off small with a pedicure that includes a lower leg and foot massage. You can also look into booking a session with a certified massage therapist. Be clear with your therapist about your needs, and they will be able to help come up with solutions that are right for you.
When you are on your own and experiencing sudden leg cramps, one of the best methods is to push your fingertips deep into the muscle that is cramping and hold it for 15-20 seconds. Once the muscle has released give the surrounding area a firm rub, moving the strokes from low to high. “The Stick” self massage roller has its own cult-like following, well earned for the ease of use and great results.
Essential oils are pretty trendy these days. The fact is that plant extracts have been helping to soothe minor ailments for thousands of years. Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory properties with a bright scent that helps rejuvenate your whole system. Eucalyptus oil offers both pain relieving and anti-spasm properties, while clove oil also has pain-relieving compounds in it.
You can apply oils to your feet and legs in a couple of different ways. You can add a few drops of the essential oils into a tub of water and soak in it. Give legs some some overall care by using a lotion that has peppermint, clove, or eucalyptus oil in it. Or, apply a damp hot compress to your legs that you have sprinkled essential oils on. The main thing here is that the oil need to be applied to your skin. Just smelling it doesn’t work.
Don’t be afraid the take a little extra time for yourself and caring for your legs; after all, they carry you all day. Do you have top tips for keeping your legs feeling great at home or abroad? Leave me a comment! Tell me what you do to revive sore tired muscles so that your ready to go again the next day!
This post was featured in the Fibro Friday link-up.