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How to Improve Leg Circulation in the Elderly

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The healthy circulation of blood throughout the body is an extremely important bodily function for anybody at any age, but for seniors, blood circulation is particularly important. Some elderly individuals struggle with circulation however and finding ways to improve circulation then becomes essential for their health and well being.

 

Improving blood circulation in the legs can be accomplished using simple tools, dietary changes, and exercises. This article will look at the symptoms of poor blood circulation along with natural treatments and exercises for improving blood flow in elderly individuals. As the circulation of blood improves, the individual’s overall health will be significantly enhanced as well.

What are the symptoms of poor blood circulation in the legs?

Cold Hands and Feet

If you have cold hands and/or feet when the rest of your body is warm and you know that your environment is also a comfortable temperature, this can be a sure sign of poor blood circulation. Blood carries heat from the core outward toward other parts of the body. Because your hands and feet are farthest from your core, they’re the most likely to experience the effects of poor blood circulation as a result.

Discoloration

Skin that is bluish or somewhat translucent can be a sign of poor blood circulation. Oxygen-rich blood is bright red and transfers that richness of color to the skin. If your skin has a bruised appearance or if it has even just a slightly bluish tinge, this can be a strong indicator of poor blood circulation, especially if you are also experiencing other symptoms as well.

Numbness and Tingling in the Hands and Feet

If you’ve ever had your foot or hand “fall asleep”, then you know how unnerving and distressing numbness and tingling can be when experienced anywhere in the body. While holding particular positions that cut off blood flow to the hands and feet can be the sole cause of numbness and tingling for some people, other people experience this sensation for no apparent reason. Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet is an indicator that blood is rushing back into these parts of the body after having been cut off. As such, inexplicable numbness and tingling may be a sign of poor circulation.

Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are a painful and somewhat frightening side effect of poor circulation in the legs. Regular cramps are a sign of poor circulation that are usually caused by a lack of certain nutrients. Dietary changes can help relieve this problem.

Limb Pain

Other kinds of limb pain, such as an unusual stinging or throbbing pain in the legs, can also be an indicator of poor leg circulation. Even if you’re not having leg cramps, other kinds of pain in the limbs (like the feeling of a bruised limb, or extremely tight muscles) may be present. It’s essential to pay attention to strange pains and sensations if you suspect that you’re having circulation problems, since this can indicate serious issues that need treatment immediately.

Restless Leg Syndrome

While restless leg syndrome can be caused by many different things, poor leg circulation is a common cause. If you find yourself having trouble keeping your legs still at night and you wake up feeling tired because of it, you may have restless leg syndrome. It’s best to visit a doctor’s office for a professional opinion if you think that your restless leg syndrome may be connected to poor circulation in your legs.

Fatigue

Fatigue by itself can’t diagnose poor leg circulation, but when paired with one or more of the other symptoms on this list, it can be a strong indicator. Blood flow is necessary for your body to feel good, and also for your mind. If you’re struggling to get through the day due to physical or mental fatigue, you may have a circulation problem.

Swelling in the Legs or Feet

Swelling occurs for many reasons, but when it happens in the legs and feet, it can be a sign of a serious circulation issue. Swelling in this case happens when blood is moving too slowly through the blood vessels. In order to relieve built-up pressure, the body allows some of the liquid from inside the blood vessels to leak into the surrounding tissues. If you experience swelling in the legs or feet, see a doctor right away.

How can I improve the circulation in my elderly parents’ legs?

Circulation is particularly important for elderly people. If you’re worried about your parents’ blood circulation here are some things that you can do to help them improve general blood flow by working with their legs:

Elevate Their Feet

Sometimes, all that’s needed to improve circulation is a slight change in positioning. Elevating one’s feet can improve circulation throughout the body almost immediately. A gentle increase in elevation of the feet is usually all that’s necessary. The purpose of repositioning the feet is to reduce potential “kinks” in blood vessels and to allow for a smooth, easy pathway for the blood to flow through in the legs. Elevation also causes blood to move back toward the heart using gravity to ease the process, thereby promoting better blood flow overall.

Do a Warm Water Soak

Preparing a warm foot soak for your elderly parent(s) can help improve their circulation as well as help them feel more relaxed. This is a particularly good activity to do during stressful situations, since stress can have a negative effect on blood flow. Relaxing activities like this can minimize stress. This method is also sometimes called hydrotherapy, and is designed to stimulate blood vessels near the surface of the skin to dilate, thus increasing circulation to the extremities. Add magnesium to the foot soak to further enhance the cardiovascular benefits of this blood-flow-promoter.

Prepare Healthy Snacks and Meals

While you may or may not be the primary caretaker for your elderly parent(s), you can ensure that they are eating healthy, circulation-improving foods that benefit their overall health as well as their cardiovascular health specifically. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and all the B vitamins, as well as omega-3 fatty acids have all been scientifically proven to improve circulation. Magnesium also has an excellent profile in terms of its effects on cardiovascular health. If you are not personally preparing meals, encourage the caregivers to prepare meals with foods that are rich in these specific nutrients. It also may be possible for your elderly parent(s) to take a supplement of these vitamins and nutrients as well.

Encourage Use of Special Socks

Besides the fact that socks keep feet warm, special socks designed specifically for the purpose of improving circulation can be used to effectively promote blood flow among the elderly populations. They’re easy to use and comfortable, making them an ideal tool. These socks are sometimes referred to as resting socks or therapeutic socks and they make use of a minimal amount of constriction to encourage blood flow in the legs. Keep in mind that these are not the same as compression socks and should not be used as such.

 

What is the best natural remedy for poor circulation?

There is no one ideal natural remedy for poor circulation. However, there are many options available that can be combined into a protocol for treating poor circulation naturally! The best natural remedy for poor circulation is a combination of tactics designed to treat the problem from the inside out. 

Poor circulation is rarely what it seems to be, so it must be treated holistically in order to manage it successfully. Some key things to include in a natural treatment protocol for poor circulation are:

 

●       A healthy diet rich in whole, fresh foods (remember to avoid all refined sugars, refined salts, and refined grains!)

●       Nutritional supplementation

●       A daily exercise routine that caters specifically toward improving circulation

●       Attention to proper posture and positioning throughout the day

●       Massage, acupuncture, or some other similar form of natural healing

 

Depending on your individual situation, more may be needed to successfully manage poor circulation in the legs or in other parts of the body. However, the treatments and techniques listed above should always be included if you want to successfully overcome blood flow issues. Working with a nutritionist, doctor, or licensed healthcare professional will improve your chances of being able to manage circulation issues, and possibly cure them forever!

 

What is the best exercise to improve circulation?

There are many exercises that improve circulation! In fact, exercise in general can be an excellent way to improve circulation quickly and effectively. Approximately 30 minutes per day of movement can make a dramatic difference in a person’s cardiovascular health. Here are some of the best exercises available for improving circulation:

 

●       Yoga -

 

There are many low impact forms of yoga that are good for all ages.

 

●       Tai Chi -

 

This is an ancient practice that elderly Chinese people use regularly to maintain good circulation to stay fit and mobile well into old age.

 

●       Walking -

 

Going for a walk each day has a wonderful effect on improving circulation.

 

●       Self-massage -

 

Giving your legs or arms a massage regularly stimulates blood flow.

 

In addition to the activities listed above, there are also special exercises and movements that are designed to stimulate blood flow in the legs. Follow this link to learn more about some of the best movements for improving circulation in the legs. However, remember that visiting or consulting with a physical therapist or a doctor is a good idea before starting any exercise program!

 

Does walking help blood circulation?

Yes. Any kind of movement, walking included, can improve blood circulation in the legs as well as the rest of the body. Seniors who maintain a regular walking schedule tend to have not only better circulation, but also improved energy, mobility, balance, mood, and general well-being! 

Most doctors and other experts recommend that seniors plan for one 30 minute walk per day that includes a short warm up and cool down before and after the walk.

 

Incorporating a short walk into an hour long movement/exercise routine is a time efficient and enjoyable way to start or end each day. While the amount of exercise and movement that a person can handle each day is variable, the more gentle movements that you can incorporate into your daily life or exercise routine, the better. 

Activities such as cleaning, cooking, doing housework and car repairs, and other similar activities all count as movement and are also excellent ways to improve blood circulation throughout the day.

Does drinking water help circulation?

Yes, absolutely. Water and adequate hydration is the most important thing you can do to improve leg circulation as well as blood flow throughout the body. The blood in your body is approximately 92% water, so you can imagine how important it is to stay hydrated when it comes to having good circulation! 

When you’re dehydrated, the blood in your body is more sluggish. Plus, water is capable of clearing out impurities in the blood that might get stuck in blood vessels and impede circulation.

 

You should aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day, and more if possible! The majority of people struggle with drinking enough water, and in fact, most people are a little bit dehydrated because of this. The more you nourish your body with plenty of clean water, the more improvements you’ll see in leg circulation and blood flow throughout the body.

What vitamins are good for blood circulation?

Eating a healthy diet and following a specialized nutritional supplementation protocol is a great way to holistically treat blood circulation problems in the elderly. There are some very specific vitamins and nutritional supplements that have been proven to improve blood circulation. While it’s always important to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional before starting to take any new vitamin or supplement, most of the supplements on this list are extremely safe and are likely to be acceptable for most people.

 

Here are some of the best vitamins and nutritional supplements for improving blood circulation in the elderly:

 

●       Vitamin C

●       Vitamin E

●       Magnesium

●       B-complex vitamins (niacin and vitamin B6 are particularly important)

●       Omega-3 fatty acids

●       Omega-6 fatty acids

●       Curcumin (a flavonoid found in turmeric)

●       Coenzyme Q10 (also known as CoQ10)

●       L-arginine (an amino acid)

●       Resveratrol (an antioxidant compound found in the skins of red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables, including grapes, berries, eggplant, and more)

 

Many of these vitamins and supplements are converted naturally in the body into nitric oxide, a compound that widens blood vessels and allows more oxygen to enter the bloodstream. Besides containing nitric oxide, many of these supplements also play a role in reducing inflammation. So often, leg circulation issues are caused by some kind of inflammation in the body. 

For example, curcumin is a particularly good supplement for reducing inflammation in the body, which can, in turn, promote blood flow! Antioxidants also play a role in improving blood circulation. That’s why vitamin C is so important when a patient has circulation issues.

 

Is lying down bad for circulation?

Lying down doesn’t have to be bad for circulation, but it can cause problems if you aren’t conscious of your position and posture during sleep. For people who already have problems with circulation in the legs, lying down for prolonged periods of time without effort toward maintaining good circulation can cause some issues in certain cases. 

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to avoid lying down when you sleep! But, there are some ways to improve circulation through conscious posturing during the nighttime hours. Here are some tips for improving circulation while you sleep:

 

●       Use a good pillow to support your head and neck. Get the advice of a chiropractor, doctor, or another licensed professional to find a pillow that will correctly support the upper areas of your body. Then, buy a new pillow either every 6 months or when the old pillow loses its shape so that you always have the best support.

●       Elevate your feet slightly when you’re sleeping. Lying flat on the mattress can cause circulation issues, but sleeping with your feet propped up even just a little bit can make major improvements in circulation while you sleep.

●       Use a pillow between your knees to maintain proper alignment while you sleep on your side. Some of the most significant problems in leg circulation start at the hips, and because your hips can be poorly affected by bad alignment when you sleep on your side, it’s important to give them a little bit of extra attention. You can get either a specially designed support pillow made particularly for this purpose, or use a regular pillow with adequate support.

 

Will massaging legs help circulation?

Yes! Massaging your legs gently will help increase blood flow and thus will help improve blood circulation. However, it’s important to keep in mind that only massaging your legs will not be enough to improve circulation permanently or over the long-term. 

Leg massages can be used as a kind of temporary solution to relieve pain, cramping, or the feeling of numbness and tingling caused by poor blood circulation. If legs are massaged regularly, it can be a part of a leg circulation improvement protocol, but it should never be done as a primary treatment.

 

Getting a full body massage (or a massage that targets the areas where you specifically have trouble with circulation) can also be a relaxing and extremely beneficial treatment. There are massage therapists who can provide massage therapy that is designed to treat circulation issues throughout the body, though it’s best to find a masseuse who has training in this type of treatment. However, any kind of massage is likely to offer some significant benefits in regard to circulation. 


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