Why do my feet and ankles swell up?
A common issue for a lot of people during the hotter summer months, is swelling tin the feet, ankles and calves.
Peripheral Oedema (or Heat Oedema), is a result of the heat causing blood vessels to dilate (expand) which then causes body fluids to move to your extremities; legs, feet and hands, via gravity.
Excessive walking, sitting, and standing in one spot for a prolonged period of time without moving allows gravity to further pull fluids down to the ankles and feet, where they pool and cause swelling and discomfort.
Too much Sodium = Swelling Ankles
One of the main causes of heat-related oedema is taking in too much salt, or rather the sodium contained in salt, and not drinking enough water.
By not drinking enough water, the salt/sodium concentration in your blood goes up, which forces your body into retaining what little water you do drink. If the salt balance in your body is off, this can increase the risk of heat oedema. If your salt loss is less than what it should be, the excessive salt level will draw fluid into your extremities.
Heat oedema treatment should also never involve diuretics as they can further dehydrate the body.
How to help reduce swelling?
1. Cut down your salt intake and drink lots more plain old tap water. Switching to low- or no-sodium salt will make a difference. It takes a bit of getting used to, if you are used to adding lots of normal salt to cooking, but it can be achieved.
2. Keep moving around, but avoid really long walks in the heat
3. Avoid prolonged standing or sitting, especially in hot weather
4. Massage your feet ankles and legs throughout the day to stimulate lymphatic drainage.
5. Try to keep as cool as you can
6. Elevating for feet and ankles will help to reduce fluid build-up.
Combined decongestive therapy includes the use of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, garments and pumps.
MLD involves the use of light massage of the subcutaneous tissue where the lymph vessels predominate. Massage begins in an area of the body trunk where there is normal lymph function and proceeds to areas of lymphatic insufficiency, in an effort to stimulate new drainage tract development.
For more information on MLD, click here.