5 Steps to Healthy Legs
Leg pain, leg swelling, varicose veins, phlebitis or blood clots in the legs have one common cause: pooling of blood in the veins. There are several important steps you can take to prevent or reduce this problem.
Wear graduated compression stockings.
WHO SHOULD WEAR THEM?
- If you have varicose or spider veins.
- If you are going on a long plane or auto trip.
- If your legs feel heavy and tired.
- If your legs swell frequently.
- If you stand or sit for long periods on the job.
- If you are pregnant.
- If you have a family history of varicose veins.
- If you have a history of phlebitis or blood clots in the legs.
- If you’ve had a leg ulcer.
HOW DO GRADUATED COMPRESSION STOCKINGS WORK?
Compression stockings (or support hose) counteract pooling of blood in the veins by exerting pressure from the outside to help your muscles pump the blood out of your legs back to your heart.
WHAT KIND OF STOCKINGS SHOULD I WEAR?
Many styles and strengths of support hose are available. It is important that they be graduated compression. Knee-highs, thigh highs, and panty hose can all be effective. Knee-highs may be best when sitting for long periods with the knees bent. Dress, athletic, and casual socks are available. Modern support stockings are affordable and attractive. Anyone with chronic leg swelling, diabetes, or disease of the arteries should see a doctor to prescribe the correct strength of stocking for their needs.
WHERE DO I GET THEM?
It is best to purchase your stockings from a medical supply store, pharmacy, or office with knowledge of the product. They should be bought in the morning when your legs are least swollen.
CARE OF YOU STOCKINGS
They should be washed in cool water with a mild soap. They should not be put in the dryer. When donning thigh highs or panty hose, remove all rings and wear rubber gloves if you have long nails or have trouble pulling the stockings up. Special gloves are available.
Physical activity, especially walking, swimming or cycling is a wonderful way to pump the blood up the leg against gravity. The calf muscles contract, squeezing the deep veins and force the blood upwards. On plane or auto trips pump your feet up and down 10 times every 10 minutes and straighten out your knees when you can to avoid ‘kinking’ the veins. If possible, get up and walk around. Exercise doubles the benefits of compression stockings.
Drink 6 – 8 glasses of water per day. Avoid alcohol on plane trips; it causes dehydration, which may contribute to blood clots.
Eat healthy. Poor nutrition and excessive weight contribute to leg swelling, varicose veins, and may increase the risk of blood clots.
Leg elevation. Getting a chance to put your legs up above the level of your heart during your day may seem like an impossible dream but it would be great for your veins as well as your stress level!