top of page

How to Decrease Swelling in Your Legs, Ankles and Feet

Swelling or inflammation in the feet and ankles can be a huge problem for a lot of people.

There are two types of swelling. Swelling as a result of an injury and chronic inflammation. Swelling as a result of an injury is beneficial because it cushions the injury and increases blood flow to aide in the healing process. The type of swelling talked about today is chronic inflammation in the feet, ankles and legs. In other words the kind of stubborn swelling that just hangs around and is not beneficial for healing.

This inflammation can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the warm weather, or too much activity (we overdid it) can cause swelling. There can also be a buildup of toxins in the body. These toxins can be things like salt, sugar, alcohol, lactic acid or even a drug. Inflammation can also occur after long bouts of sitting whether it is from traveling or lack of exercise.

So why does this happen?

When a toxin is in the body, water comes to the area to try to dilute the toxin. The body can easily pump the fluid to the kidneys which filter it out of the body. The reason it gets "stuck" in the legs and feet is because the body struggles to pump against the force of gravity or up the legs. However, there is a way to reduce this force. People who struggle with inflammation can sit reclined or lay with their feet higher than their heart thus reversing the force of gravity. This means the gravity is now working for them instead of against them.

This is actually easy to do. If you struggle with inflammation don't worry, there are some things that can help.

Legs Up The Wall:

The easiest way to get gravity to do the work for you is to put your feet on your headboard or the wall above your bed. First, sit on the edge of your bed and lay down, face up with your head toward the foot-end of your bed. Next, lift your feet onto your headboard or the wall above your bed. Scoot so that you are laying comfortably with your legs slightly bent and your feet up the wall. As long as your feet and legs are higher than the rest of your body, you are doing it correctly. You will start to feel your legs get heavy and you can feel a gentle sliding feeling coming down your legs.

Legs on the Couch Arm:

Another way to do this is to lay on the couch with your feet on the arm of the couch. This will also give your legs some elevation so that gravity can do the work.

Seated Feet Elevation:

If you prefer to sit, make sure that your feet are propped up as high as your heart. It is easiest to use a pillow or blankets to get your feet high enough.

Gravity is the easiest way to decrease inflammation but there are also exercises that can help with this. They are listed below.


Toe scrunches

Ankle Pumps

Ankle Circles

Windshield Wipers (Make your feet go side to side like windshield wipers)

Check out the video attached for easy to follow directions for these exercises.

If you are traveling (either in the car or on a plane) try these exercises to help reduce and prevent inflammation from happening.

Overall decreasing swelling will help you to have less pain and soreness in your lower extremities. It will also make it easier to walk and move around. The goal is that even if you do have inflammation, you can get rid of it quickly and it will not inhibit your activity level.

So the next time you have inflammation in your legs, ankles and feet try a few of the things described above.

Make today wonderful,

Sarah Z

Created by Sarah Zastrow- Bay Area Wellness

bottom of page