Keeping fit and healthy from head to toe – lower legs and veins
Today’s highlighted body region contains the lower legs, veins, and venous circulation. Pay extra attention to this region, exercise it, and look after it! Below you find some tips and recipes. You can do these also on other days, but use this symbol as a reminder, and after all, today is the best day to do it.
Looking after your lower legs
- Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity to promote blood circulation. Activities such as walking, swimming, and cycling are beneficial.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight can put additional pressure on the veins, especially those in the legs. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall cardiovascular health.
- Elevate Your Legs: If you spend long periods sitting or standing, try to elevate your legs whenever possible. This can help reduce swelling and improve blood circulation.
- Avoid Prolonged Sitting or Standing: If your job involves prolonged sitting, try to take breaks to stand and stretch. If standing for long periods, shift your weight from one leg to another and take short breaks to walk.
- Compression Stockings: Compression stockings can help improve circulation in the legs. They provide graduated compression, meaning the pressure is greatest at the ankle and decreases as it moves up the leg. This is also useful for flights as it avoids the formation of blood clots.
- Healthy Diet: Eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This can contribute to overall cardiovascular health.
- Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration helps maintain blood volume and can prevent the blood from thickening, reducing the risk of clot formation.
- Avoid Smoking: Smoking is associated with poor circulation and can contribute to the development of vascular diseases. Quitting smoking can have numerous health benefits.
- Manage Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can strain the blood vessels, including veins. Managing blood pressure through a healthy lifestyle and, if necessary, medication can be important for vein health.
- Regular Check-ups: Regularly visit your healthcare provider for check-ups, especially if you have a family history of vein issues or if you notice any symptoms such as swelling, pain, or changes in the appearance of your veins.
Anybody who has a profession where they are on their feet all day long could benefit from taking regular horse chestnut supplements. It is the seed and bark that is useful for this treatment. But I won’t lie, it is an acquired taste due to its bitter note. Therefore some of you may prefer ready-made supplements.
The Austrian Emperor Maximillian I imported the first horse chestnut tree from Constantinople to Vienna, where his gardener planted it. His doctors studied its properties and found that bark decoction (50g for 1.5 liters of water) relieves fever, cures water retention (especially in the lower legs), and treats hemorrhoids.
It is called horse chestnut and its main use was to improve the health of sluggish horses.
Another plant that is useful for tired legs is the vine, especially the leaves and the pips of the grapes. There are plenty around as both are discarded during the winemaking process. 50g of dried wine leaves per 1 liter of boiling water. Here is a variation of the recipe for the summer.
In the Mediterranean kitchen, vine leaves are an essential ingredient. The most famous version is Stuffed Vine Leaves. I love this dish and knowing that it also benefits my venous circulation makes it double appealing.
Exercises for varicose veins and heavy legs
Have you ever heard the saying ‘After a long day’s work put your feet up! It is so true, as the reversion of the blood flow has great health benefits. Here are some easy exercises you can do on your return from work.
Vein pump exercise: Lie on a mat and raise both stretched legs to 90 degrees. Keep for one minute in the air and stretch your toes with one leg while pulling your toes towards the stretched leg with the other and rotate, almost like walking upstairs. This movement will stretch and release the back of your legs.
Ankle circles: Same position, but in this case you circle the ankles a few times to the right and the left.
Both of these exercises are also useful in the morning before you get up!
Shoulderstand: For all those who are quite agile, get into the yoga position of the plow and raise to a shoulder stand, keep your legs up for as long as comfortable, the time will lengthen over time.
Another useful exercise is the calf stretch (one of my favorites). Stand in front of a wall and place both hands on the wall, as if you want to push the wall away from you. Then step back with one leg and fully stretch it out, you should feel the back of your legs. Repeat a few times with both legs. This exercise is useful if you sit for long periods and it is discreet to do (unlike a shoulder stand which is hard to perform outside of your home.).
For the very advantageous try a headstand. I started regular yoga exercises when I was still a teenager and being very flexible and fit, I found it quite easy to stand on my head. I recently tried to do it again and am pleased to say it still works (especially as an impressive party trick!). But joke aside, being able to reverse the blood flow is very beneficial for circulation, and also for the brain.
Here is a video that describes the process of learning to stand on your head (which is the same one I used many years ago). It looks daunting at first, but with regular exercising and a bit of persistence, you will be able to stand on your head soon.