“My legs seem to be getting fatter”. “My legs feel heavy and sluggish”. Are you familiar with those experiences?
Swelling below the waist of your body, especially of the calves, is difficult to deal with and uncomfortable.
Before you think that you cannot help it because it is your physical tendency and give up, try to determine the causes of your swelling and try out the remedies.
1．Why is Calf Swelling uncomfortable and noticeable?
Our legs tend to easily get swollen compared to the other parts of our body, but when you feel swelling in any part of your body, that often means all of your body is swollen.
If so, why is the swelling of legs, especially calves particularly noticeable?
One of the causes is this. While you are sleeping, excessive water of your body still remains there. Then, when you raise your body, this excessive water is pushed down below the waist and retained there.
70% of water contents of the body is stored below the waist. This is why any excess water also tends to remain there.
In addition, women wear skirts and boots, and that makes women aware of their swollen calves.
Even so, swelling does not only happen to legs or calves. It also happens throughout the body, which causes some troubles to the whole body.
So, when you feel swelling in your calves, try to determine the causes and find the solutions.
2．Causes of swelling
When you sit up or stand up, any excessive water or waste products of your body accumulate below the waist.
Therefore, after long work of the day or sleep deprivation, you tend to feel swelling of your legs, but swelling is not a problem to your legs alone.
Swelling can be defined as a physical condition in which excessive water or waste products cannot be discharged well from your body and they are retained there. This makes your body swollen.
So, when you feel swelling in your legs, this does not mean that something is wrong only with your legs, but it means something is wrong with your entire body.
Now, let me explain here some causes of swelling.
There are two different types of swelling: the first is a temporary one, and the other is caused by a disease of blood vessels or internal organs.
This is a general symptom which is thought to be swelling. Their causes vary, but the items listed below are thought to be the major causes.
1) Remaining in the same posture for a long period of time
If you remain sedentary or standing all day, the muscles of your calves also do not contract for a long time. Then, when this condition continues, the blood circulation and lymph flow become slow and interrupted below the waist, which causes leg swelling.
2) Declines of muscle mass
Lack of exercises or poor nutrition also causes some declines in muscles mass of the calves, impairing blood circulation below the waist. This condition causes retention of waste products or excess water in the legs, causing swelling below the waist.
3) Tendency to feel cold
If you have a tendency to feel cold, it is caused by your poor blood circulation. When you feel cold, the blood does not circulate well in the capillary blood vessels and that causes swellings.
4) Too much salt intake
Salt has a characteristic property to retain water inside our body. Therefore, when there is any excessive salt in our body, any surplus water is trapped and retained there, which can be one of the causes of swelling.
Swelling with a possibility of diseases
If you think little of leg swelling, be careful. It might turn out to be caused by some kind of diseases.
If you have any sudden severe swelling or if the swelling continues for a week or longer, I recommend you that you see a doctor at some medical organization. Here is a list of possible diseases with leg swelling symptoms.
- Lower Extremity Varicose Vein
- Cardiac Disease
- Liver and Kidney Diseases
3. 4 ways to get rid of swelling
As you have read above, our legs tend to swell because they retain excess water or waste products in our body.
Especially calves are noticeable parts of our body and we tend to worry about it.
Now, let’s find out the four ways to get rid of those worrisome swellings.
3-1. Move your calves.
If you maintain the same posture for a long time, your blood circulation becomes slow, and this leads to the swelling of your body.
Contract your calves to pump up the heart. The blood and the lymph fluid trapped below the waist should be returned to the heart. This is the way to improve the blood circulation flow.
If you spend all day in a standing or a sitting posture, however, this pumping mechanism does not start functioning. Any excess water and waste products are retained below the waist, which causes swelling of your legs or calves.
Now, to prevent those symptoms, let’s move your calves as often as possible during your commute time or your breaks.
You do not have to do any special exercises. Just keep it in mind to walk in a bit more rhythmic manner than usual. Let’s try to improve the swelling condition of your calves by contracting them, making your blood circulation better all over your body.
3-2. Take in nutrients effective to get rid of swelling
To improve your swelling condition, take in nutrients which improves the flows of blood and lymph. Also important is to refrain from excessive salt intake.
Here is a list of those nutrients.
1) Potassium: to discharge salt contents out of the body and strengthens muscles
2) Citrulline：to rejuvenate blood vessels
3) Citric Acid: to improve blood circulation flow
4) Vitamin E: to prevent blood oxidation
5) Protein: to improve the quality and quantity of muscle mass
Try to take the nutrients above in a well-balanced manner.
Now, let’s have a look at foods rich in those nutrients.
Potassium helps discharge excessive salt (=sodium) retained in your body and encourages diuretic actions to discharge excess water from your body.
If you often eat out or eat instant foods, quite often your sodium intake tends to be excessive. So, let’s keep this fact in mind and try to increase potassium intake instead.
Also, potassium strengthens our muscles. On the other hand, potassium deficiency causes decline of muscle strength, which results in poor blood circulation. If you feel tired and weak, it might also be caused by potassium deficiency.
Here is a list of potassium-rich foods.
Citrulline is an amino acid, and so-called a “super amino acid”. It maintains blood flow functions and rejuvenates blood vessels. Also, it improves your tendency of feeling cold, prevents body swellings and reduces blood pressures.
Citrulline is also an effective nutrient to cure and prevent swelling of your body because of its diuretic effect.
Here is a list of Citrulline -rich foods.
3) Citric acid
Citric acid is an effective nutrient to get rid of swellings. It can help discharge waste products from your body, promoting metabolism and blood flow.
Here is a list of citric acid-rich foods
- Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime
- Umeboshi (Pickled Japanese plum), vinegar
Please note, though, that pickled plums are high in salt content, too. So, please take them moderately.
4) Vitamin E
Vitamin E also works to get rid of swellings. It prevents blood oxidation, and stimulates sodium discharge from your body.
Here is a list of vitamin E-rich foods.
- Dried Prunes
- Jew’s Mallow
Vitamin E has been attracting a lot of attentions as a vitamin for rejuvenation, but it is also acknowledged that excessive intake of vitamin E may cause osteoporosis. So, please pay careful attention about the amount of intake.
Normal function of muscles is an important factor to prevent swellings. In order to get rid of your swellings, take high-quality protein to improve your muscle mass and its functions.
Here is a list of protein-rich foods
- Lean Beef
- Soy Products
3-3. Alleviate your tendency to feel cold. Improve your blood circulation by bathing and massaging.
Blood circulation and lymph fluid flow should be improved to get rid of swellings of the body.
When your body is cold, the blood circulation flow is slow. So, if you can prevent your tendency to feel cold, it also helps get rid of your swellings. For this purpose, the effective measures will be half-body bathing and massaging after taking bath.
You might think it would be effective to sweat a lot to improve your body swelling, but when too much water is lost from the body, it deteriorates the swelling even more. It is known that warming your body works better to improve your swelling condition rather than sweating.
Here are some tips for effective massaging to improve your swelling condition.
■After taking bath and drinking water at the room temperature or lukewarm water, start massaging.
■Use massage oil or body cream, and massage your legs with gentle strokes. so that you can avoid excessive stimulation onto your skin or muscles. You cannot discharge excess water or waste products if you give strong pressure.
■Add it into your daily routine to massage your body parts which tend to swell.
Calves are a body part referred to as “the second heart”. So much so, it plays an important role in improving the blood flow. Let’s make it a habit to give a soothing massage.
If you have any swollen body parts, it can be an indication that you have excess water and waste products trapped in your body and they are not discharged yet.
Your body parts below the waist, in particular, are easy to swell because those parts are located away from the heart.
In order to improve your swelling condition, it is necessary to stimulate the blood circulation and the lymph flow. For this purpose, try to maintain well-balanced diet as well as to improve your muscle mass, and you can improve your health with better blood flow.
Let’s start with what you can do now to get rid of your calf swelling.
This article is translation of Japanese article, and the information listed is as of January 6, 2016 (Japan Standard Time). Please take note that this article is based on individual opinions or their impressions, and opinions may vary.