Ministry of Health Singapore. All Rights Reserved.
The blood vessels in the legs end up doing a lot of hard work. Vein problems could be causing you pain. Here are 11 ways to relieve the pain and take better care of your legs.
The heart may be the engine of the body, but our blood vessels are the turbines that power it. Our blood vessels carry blood—ferrying an incredible 7,000 litres of blood throughout our body every day.
The hardest work is performed by the vessels in our legs – they have to work against the pull of gravity. Our calf muscles are like pumps pushing the blood upwards toward our heart. If the muscle pumps no longer work properly, the blood is likely to collect in our legs. So be nice to your legs and feet!
Many people do not even notice their veins are acting up until they feel pain, see some purplish veins on their legs or experience ankle swelling. This is more evident in the evenings at the end of a long day, so people often put it down to tiredness, which might be the case as well. Usually, the veins get some relief while we sleep. If leg pains or leg cramps persist; or if you have chronic leg fatigue, then you should do something about it.
Other symptoms include spider veins or varicose veins, swelling (technically known as oedema) and excessive accumulation of fluid in the tissues. Besides painful spasmodic cramps, vein infections, tiny blood clots, thrombosis, coagulation or pulmonary embolism may also result.
Vein problems are quite frequent in Singapore. Sometimes there are genetic factors, but hormonal factors, age, and lifestyle often come into play. Ask yourself if you smoke, are desk-bound for many hours a day or are overweight. If your answer is “yes”, they may be part of the reason for your painful, tired legs.
Sports such as swimming and bicycling – and also stretching, walking, yoga or even housework – keep you moving, which is good for the body. However, when doing housework, beware of prolonged ironing, which moves the arms but not the feet. Prolonged sitting is perhaps the new “smoking” of our time: not only is it dangerous for your health, but it can also create a rift in your social landscape by reducing interpersonal interactions. So do not just email, Skype or put in too much face-time at your screen: take breaks to stretch your sore legs and walk over to your colleagues – mingle!
Some may find it more comfortable to cross their legs when sitting, but a better position is to sit with both feet resting flat on the ground, with thighs and calves at a right angle to each other. You can exercise your feet even while sitting and engaging in activities such as clearing your emails, taking calls or attending meetings. Roll your feet forwards and backward, toward the toes and then back to raise on heels. If you have space, stretch one leg forward while sitting and draw increasingly larger circles with it, first in one direction, and then the other. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand with legs slightly apart and stretch your arms horizontally in front of you. Go on your haunches into a stooping position and hold for a few seconds. Then return to the original position and repeat. Or hold the stork position: lift your knees to 90 degrees and stand on one foot. Remember to keep your back straight.
Your extra kilos are a burden on your hips and legs. Not only will you take longer to recover from a sprain, fall or fracture, you are also less likely to move during sleep, which creates another set of problems.
We need at least one to two litres of water a day to help keep our blood diluted and our body functioning smoothly.
Wearing high heels over an extended time can give rise to abnormal arches of the feet which can affect blood circulation. Choose flexible soles that support the muscles in your feet for better foot health.
No, we do not just mean during a shower, but treat them to footbaths – a method of alternate soaking of feet in warm and cold water. This external stimulation will help the blood in your feet to flow. Go easy on the hot baths and saunas as heat causes swelling in your feet.
You can do this while watching the TV or reading a book. At night, sleep with your feet on a pillow higher than your head. Think of your body in bed as a slightly wider “V”.
We have all heard by now of the woman whose skinny jeans landed her in hospital for a couple of days. She reportedly spent hours squatting to do some packing and as a result, her blood vessels and nerves were compressed. Usually, muscles can expand to compensate for the swelling, but the jeans were so tight that the muscles expanded inwards and she lost circulation in her lower legs. Do not be a fashion victim.
Compression hosiery or stockings are finely woven stockings with maximum compression at the ankle that gradually decreases up the leg. They also create a massaging effect as you move. If you spend a lot of time on your feet or are taking a long-distance flight, wearing compression stockings can help to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Such hosiery can be found at pharmacies and even come in fashionable colours.
Sit on a stool or low chair and attempt to turn the page of a newspaper on the floor with your toes/foot. You can also try crunching or uncrunching a piece of paper or simply tearing it up with your feet. Such actions will help to keep your toes nimble.
The information above should not be used as an alternative to medical advice from a professional healthcare provider. If you are suffering from any prolonged or unusual leg pain, please consult your doctor or other healthcare professional.
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This article was last reviewed on
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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