This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in July of 2023. For the original video go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osNJWnVw1Mo
Brad: If you are having leg circulation issues, you must know the problem in order to treat it properly.
Mike: There are three common causes and we're going to give you solutions for each one.
Brad: Now there are three scenarios of common leg circulation problems. We're going to list each one, and you can decide which category you fit into. Okay, now these are scenarios that you'll relate to. However, it is important you do not self-diagnose. You need to see a doctor to get it understood, but this is really going to help you communicate with a doctor better and understand your exercises as well. We're going to show you one specific home exercise program that has proven to increase leg circulation by 74% and that will come later in the video.
Mike: The first common cause of leg circulation problems is arteriosclerosis.
Brad: Arteriosclerosis is when the arteries are becoming plugged and the circulation to the leg becomes impeded and declines. Now, I'm very familiar with this, my father had it. Typically, you can walk 100-300 feet, but then the muscles in your legs, calves, and feet become very painful and fatigued and you feel like you need to sit.
Mike: Scenario number two is for the person who typically feels good in the morning and has no swelling in their legs, but as the day goes on, it becomes a little more painful and swollen.
Brad: Right, now the cause could vary. It could be varicose veins, let the doctor decide. It's usually nothing to get too concerned about but there are some exercises and ways to treat this at home so it can be treated and managed quite well.
Mike: And scenario three is lymphedema.
Brad: Now with lymphedema, treatment is a little more specific, but there are things you can do at home once you're educated on it. With lymphedema, as the blood goes through your arteries, down into your legs, the natural way for the body to feed nutrients to the cells is for the arteries to actually leak out fluid, which is lymph. It contains nutrients, and that's healthy. Now, what happens with lymphedema, the fluid needs to come back up through the lymph nodes to get filtered, but for a number of different reasons, the lymph gets impeded and it actually stays down in the foot, particularly below the knee is very common. So, for example, pushing into a swollen leg and you pull your finger away, there is a dent there, that's called pitting edema. It's a positive sign that that is the case. That can be treated, we'll get into that at the end of the video.
Mike: So if you have been diagnosed with arteriosclerosis by your doctor, they may order some medication for you, and also you may want to start a walking program. Now, if a doctor does, and they often do, give you an exercise program, typically it's walking. Now the important part about this is you're going to exercise so that you get collateral circulation. Your body actually forms new arteries or circulation paths so that it can feed the muscles and you do not have the symptoms anymore. It's very important that you do it in a methodical manner. In other words, you don't get up and walk as far as you possibly can until your legs hurt so bad you can't walk anymore. You simply get up until you start feeling pain in your legs and then you sit and you rest. Get up and walk again, do this two or three times, and then you're done. You may have only walked 300 feet in the whole exercise. Again, it may be a good idea to have this prescribed and go through it in detail with a therapist so that you do it properly.
Mike: If you have no precautions and the doctor says this is okay, then you can actually give foam rolling a try, to help with your circulation.
Brad: Right now, with this foam rolling that we're going to go through briefly, it actually had some tests done on it. It improved leg circulation by 74%. I'm going to give you a brief demonstration of how to do it. If you want more information on foam rolling, you actually need to go to our video. It goes through specific instructions on how to do all of the exercises. So, you simply go on the floor with your foam roller and work this, which helps move the circulation (the blood flow) in your legs. Again, there are specific times we do work the legs basically from the ankles up to the hip.
Brad: Check that video out, and it's a good option, as long as the doctor says no precautions, do everything as it feels fine. Now, in scenario two, where you wake up, with no swelling, but your legs and ankles swell by the end of the day and it's a cyclical thing, that happens every day, what you need to do is typically walk throughout the day, not too far, so you're fatigued, but not overly fatigued. And then throughout the day, anytime you sit down in a chair, elevate your feet so they’re above your heart. It may not be possible. It's a lot better to have them elevated on a chair or stool versus down all day. Now if you have a recliner, you're going to tilt the recliner up as far as comfortable, and if you can get them a little higher with the recliner and you're comfortable, that's okay too. One way or another, keep them up. Make sure you walk throughout the day. That should make a significant difference, because the walking actually helps pump that fluid back up where it belongs, out of the legs and into the system, so it recycles as it should.
Mike: So if you are able to lie down during the day and elevate your feet above your heart, that would be optimal. Do this for 10 to 20 minutes to help with that swelling in your legs. While you're here, you can also do some ankle-pumping action for 20 repetitions.
Mike: If you find this to be useful, you can purchase a wedge pillow of sorts instead of using pillows, and it's a little more comfortable and easier to maneuver around. If you have a bunch of pillows in your house, just use those, but this is nice and comfortable and helps with that circulation.
Brad: Also, it's good for back pain if you have it. Most people find it's wonderful for that and they're comfortable. Now, if you're diagnosed with lymphedema, your doctor may order medications, but typically the exercise program from the doctor is similar to what we just talked about. For example, you're going to get up and walk maybe three times a day. Also, when you sit down, elevate your feet as well, we want to get that fluid to go proximal or towards the core. If you're lying down, use pillows or the leg wedge, just like we talked about. While your legs are up do some ankle pumps. And while you're sitting in your recliner or lying down, 10 to 20 reps every half hour is good. Okay, another very common way to treat lymphedema is with compression garments. Now, there are two real common types. One is Tubigrip which comes in a roll. You cut it off to the proper length and you slip it on. They go on relatively easily, the toes are exposed, that's the way it's supposed to be, and they come up just below the knee. Now with this, it's very important that you know how to do it properly. We do have a video with explicit instructions done by Bob and Brad on wearing and fitting tubigrips, so look that up.
Brad: The other option that's common is compression socks. Now these socks are difficult to get on. But they are made specifically so there's more compression around the feet. This is usually 20 millimeters of mercury, you don't have to memorize that, but that's how it's labeled. And then up to 20 there or 30 in the calf, sometimes it's 15 in the toes and 20 in the calf, the doctor will give you information on which ones to get. Mike is wearing them right here. They work very well once you figure out how to get them on and off easily and comfortably. There is one word of warning. If you do have lymphedema you're treating with compression garments, keep an eye on your skin. Oftentimes it can dry up, and if your skin does get dry and scaly, you need to see your doctor and they'll prescribe some kind of lotion. Oftentimes, it's across-the-counter lotion, but when their skin does dry up, it can get little cracks in it. That can be an entry point for germs or bacteria, which can cause an infection. It's one of those things you really want to avoid, and it’s easier to avoid if you treat it early. Now, taking care of your legs is really important. We hope this information is helpful and will get you on the right track.
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