Consider this if your legs look like an elephants

Have you noticed that as it begins to get warmer (particularly for those in a humid environment) that your feet and legs may swell?  You swear you had ankles, but now you don’t. Have you notices that while you have been maybe doing more sitting these past several COVID-19 months, that your feet and legs are a bit more swollen?

I know my legs use to look like this

Yep, me too!

Let’s break it down to some possible root causes.

The simple reasons for leg swelling

Food

Have you been eating more salty, processed, or fast food?  During this time of sheltering in place, our regular eating habits may be off.  I have chatted with several people who admit to snacking more, getting more take out (to support their local restaurants of course). Many of us generally are just not eating as well as we could. Our go to is our favorite Italian Restaurant – and we know the salt in pizza is high. OK, so pizza is my guilty pleasure!

Movement

I flash back to several vacations in Europe, primarily France, Spain and Italy. It always amazes and pleases me to see the number of older people walking to the farmer’s market, butcher shop, bakery, etc. AND many have great ankles.  They were moving and active.  There is something to be said about only having a very small refrigerator that makes you walk to get food.

The other thing that did surprise me was watching the Americans (they are generally easy to pick out: wear sneakers, heavier than their European counterparts, on cell phone, dragging unwilling children around who are also on their phone), they did have much more swollen ankles!  I just couldn’t help making the observation and comparison. That’s what I do.

Not so simple reasons for ankle swelling

Not so simple reasons for ankle swelling

  1. Medications- such as antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, NSAIDs and diabetes medications.  Something to note and ponder. In the US we take more medication than other countries around the globe.  Sad, eh?
  2. Prediabetes – yes, this can be the start of something not so good.
  3. Chronic disease such as congestive heart failure or kidney disease.

Things you can do if your legs are swollen

What to do?

  • If your ankles are swollen because your heart is not pumping well and you have fluid retention accompanied by shortness of breath and fatigue – by all means, see your doctor.
  • Cutting down on the salt may help – yes, it’s hard to do when there are so many temptations.
  • Hydrate – unless you must limit fluids.  Hydrate means WATER, not soda, coffee or alcohol as they will dehydrate you.
  • Get out and move to improve your circulation, yep – it will help.  I also like my compression stockings (which I  wear when I travel and also when I do long runs – they make my legs feel so much better).
  • Sometimes, just putting those tired dogs (aka feet) up for a bit, or soaking them in some Epson salts and taking a well-deserved break does the trick.
Man with feet looking over a lake
Give yourself a break and just put those feet up

Just try to determine why those ankles are bigger than normal, sometimes it’s simple and sometimes not. If you are at all concerned, please contact your healthcare provide.

An earlier post you might find interesting

Refer back to an earlier post I did about feet flexibility.

References

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/swollen-ankles-and-feet

https://www.webmd.com/dvt/why-legs-puffy

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Sandi Feaster

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