Summer – you get to hit the beach and eat watermelons. Of course, mangoes happen too. Interestingly, children grow at the fastest rate in summer (1). Sadly, doctors say that maximum people come with the complaint of ankle swelling in the summer. Amidst the wonderful things that happen in summer why this leg swelling? Well, edema (the technical name for fluid accumulation) is an evolutionary advantage (helps in healing, regulating body temperature and stuff). Nonetheless, the advantage is at the expense of some obvious discomforts. Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it. Don’t just read, follow them meticulously.
#1 – One Helluva Soak!
Hydrotherapy is one of the best methods you can employ to reduce edema. Hydrotherapy, as the name suggests, is the process in which water is used internally or externally to heal the body. In this case, it is external. To relieve your ankles from swelling and pain, try the contrast-bath trick. Soaking your foot alternately in cold and hot water (contrast bath) is known to reduce edema, inflammation, soreness, and promote blood circulation (2). How cold? 12-15 degree Celsius. How hot? Just switch your damn geyser on! (Read: 25-30 degrees)
#2 – Massage
Edema could be triggered by my many activities. However, no matter what the cause is, massaging the area of swelling is an effective treatment for edema which increases blood flow through the lymphatic vessels and veins (3). Displacing the accumulated fluid to other places with the help of massaging relieves you of those puffed up feet. To enhance the effect, use essential oils like clove, chamomile, bergamot, and eucalyptus. Make sure you dilute them in carrier oils before massaging the swollen area.
#3 – Defy Gravity
Swelling can happen anywhere in the body, right? But why is it that only your legs seem to be bearing the brunt so often? Gravity. Yes, where else do you think the fluid can travel after all? If gravity is being smart, you get smarter – defy it. Elevate your feet up preferably above your heart. For some reason lifting your legs that high doesn’t look feasible (like, if you were at work and…) try elevating a little bit. That will give you relief during the course of the day.
#4 – Bath Salt To The Rescue
Soaking your foot in hot and cold water works wonders anyway. However, if you want just that extra bit of relaxation and the goodness of minerals add 1/2 a cup of Epsom salt in hot water to prepare a therapeutic foot-soak. Now, soak your feet for 20 minutes. Make sure you immerse the entire foot in the water. The magnesium and sulfates in Epsom salt reduce the swelling and the soreness. Just ensure that you moisturize your feet after drying them because Epsom tends to make your feet dry.
#5 – Apple Cider Vinegar Wrap
Apart from the whole list of good things apple cider vinegar can do, it is also popular for its anti-inflammatory properties. A hot compress for those aching feet – nothing like it. Dip a towel in a mixture of hot water and apple cider vinegar (equal parts) and wrap your swollen feet in the towel. This will drastically reduce the swelling and soreness. The towel works better than a compress bag because it covers the entire foot relieving the whole leg of inflammation.
I wonder what is with this water and edema? There’s fluid inside the body, you need to dip your feet in all kinds of water to treat it. And now, it is swimming. There are two reasons why swimming can reduce water retention. One, it is a form of exercise which promotes blood circulation, and it mobilizes the accumulated fluid. Two, the hydrostatic pressure that builds on the body while you swim is said to reduce edema. This mechanism is similar to the one that happens when you soak your feet in the water. However, the physical exertion is a bonus.
#7 Reduce Salt Intake
A sodium-rich diet only causes more harm than good in case of edema. Sodium causes an increase in fluid retention. For the body to function at its optimum best, it maintains a sodium-water equilibrium. When there is an increase in sodium in the body, it compensates for it by proportionally increasing the amount of water in the body. Simply put, it retains the water. Ironically, to get rid of water retention, you are asked to drink more water. This is because when you drink sufficient water, the sodium is flushed out of the system and eventually the sodium-water balance is restored.
Doesn’t it seem simple? Soak your feet, drink water, keep your legs in the elevated pose, go for a swim – looks like life’s more interesting with summer and fluid retention. What have you got to say about this? Comment below and let me know.