Swelling in the ankle and lower legs is a common complaint by the elderly, pregnant women and people who are obese. It is called ‘edema’ and is basically the collection of fluids or water. There is no other symptom like pain associated with edema. Normally, the body cells help in throwing out the excess fluids but certain disorders in the heart, lungs or kidneys can cause edema. For the majority of people, it is only the position of sitting or standing for a prolonged period that can cause this problem, maybe due to gravity. There are several medications for treating this swelling but leg exercises like stretching, elevating, walking, swimming and yoga can easily reduce the swelling. So, here is a list of exercises to reduce leg swelling. If the swelling does not reduce with these exercises, further investigation may be necessary.
If your job requires you to be seated all day with not much movement, try doing sitting exercises to reduce leg swelling. While seated, stretch your legs out and point your toes to the floor. Then lift the toes up towards the shin pulling your leg as far as you can. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Do this exercise in 3 sets of 10 exercises each. Work them up to 3 sets of 30 exercises each. This exercise helps the dorsal muscles of the ankles and strengthens the shin. You can also swing the legs back and forth, stretching out and folding back as many times as you can. When the legs get stronger, the distribution of fluids get better and prevents pooling of fluids.
Some exercises can be done reclining on the bed. Stretch your legs out in front of you. Keep them flat against the bed. Now tighten the top muscles of your thighs and try to press the back of the knee against the bed, or the chair if you are sitting. Hold for five seconds. Squeeze the buttock muscles and again hold for five seconds, then relax and repeat the exercises ten times. Work it up to 30 times gradually. Roll to your side and lift each leg laterally, up and down about 5 times. Finish the regime with a few leg raises up and down a few times. This exercise helps in blood circulation which reduces edema and tones up the leg muscles.
Walking – one of the best exercises to reduce leg swelling
Walking improves circulation and since the muscles of the legs are worked out, it forms the best form of exercise to reduce swelling. Good circulation helps in returning fluids back to the heart. The muscle contractions of the legs, help the edema to reduce. A brisk walk for 30 minutes is enough. If you cannot spare time for going out for a walk, at least try to exercise your legs by walking as much as you can at your work place or the treadmill if that is more convenient for you.
Doing work outs in water can help swelling in the legs especially for pregnant women. Many pregnant women get swelling in the legs in the last trimester. The increase in weight and strain on the veins, and the excess fluids that collect to ease joint and tissue expansion during childbirth can cause edema. Swimming for 45 minutes has proved to reduce swelling. If swimming is not suitable for you, there are several other aquatic leg raises and exercises that can be done which are as good as swimming. Because of vigorous activity under the pressure of water this exercise squeezes and flushes out excess fluids from the legs.
Leg raising exercises to reduce leg swelling
Keeping the legs in a raised position is an excellent remedy for draining away the fluid collection. Elderly people who cannot undertake other physical exercises can easily keep the legs raised on a stack of pillows. Others can do lying down leg exercises. For this breathe deeply, and slowly raise one leg from the hip upwards towards the ceiling. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Follow the same exercise with the other leg. Raise a little at a time and don’t strain the muscles. You may be able to lift 1 inch the first time, but it improves with repetition. When you are able to lift the leg high, you can try circling with the toes pointing upwards, for each leg. Do this exercise 10 times for each leg.
Many exercises can be done with ease at the workplace or at home. You don’t have to go to the gym or pool for a workout. Start with simple exercises and adopt more difficult ones after assessing the results. Calf exercises are very effective, again to improve blood circulation and tone the muscles and veins. You will notice the difference when you do these exercises ten to twenty times. Stand on your legs with the feet a little apart, for balance. Raise yourself lifting the heels off the floor and supporting yourself on the balls of your feet and toes. This helps in stretching the entire muscles at the back of the legs from the thighs to the calves and ankles. Do this as many times as it is comfortable. Alternately you can fold and squiggle the toes whenever convenient, even while working on the computer.
Yoga is extremely beneficial for improving circulation and any pose that strengthens the leg muscles helps in reducing the pooling of blood and fluids to keep them supple. Virasana or the warrior pose, vajrasana or diamond pose, adhomukha shvanasana or downward dog pose are all excellent exercises. Of all these asanas, the viparitha karini or walking up the wall exercise restores energy and oxygenated blood to the legs. This draws up the lymph fluid collection during the day, to be drawn back into the body. Relaxation and taking the pressure off the legs is the main goal when doing yoga. In addition to specific yoga poses that serve as one of the best exercises to reduce leg swelling, a vinyasa flow of gentle aerobic activity helps in circulating the blood, free from stress.
Well-balanced legs are crucial to maintaining a good body posture. Apart from exercises to reduce leg swelling, there are some Tai Chi exercises that help in shaping beautiful, well-balanced legs.
11 Tai Chi exercises to get beautiful legs
Block and sweep to the right
Drawing the sword to the right or Block and sweep to the right (the sword form) step in Tai Chi gives a perfect holding to the body ensuring both the legs in equal pace sharing the similar weight. To start it, Push the sword a little forward and step forward (right leg into right bow stance) while turning the right palm down in a counterclockwise. With the left fingers touching right hand holding sword much relative/parallel to the floor. With the right leg forward and left feet stretched back, the body balances well in this sword form. Maintain pace with the movement to keep the legs move accurately and be cautious on the wrist movement by applying all the push applications and form applications.
Block and sweep to the left
With a slight difference from drawing a sword to the right, Block and Sweep to the left (the sword form) continue by pushing sword a little forward turning right palm up in a clockwise direction and by moving forward with the left leg in left bow stance. With the blade is kept in the right hand parallel to the ground level, the left hand rises above the head. Trainees who get along with this exercise try to keep an eye on the foot movement as well as the wrist movement as they may require higher stamina to defend and rotate. There is a tendency to practice it the same way as with sweeping to the right, but to warn the beginners, sweeping to the left doesn’t mean bringing the left arm forward instead to take it as a support.
Grasp the bird’s tail
To make a transitional move from the previous step, come back in a posture of holding the ball to relax a bit with the right hand on top of the left hand imagining holding a ball. Then, to start the step, keep out the left leg and bend forward slightly without changing right leg’s position, then corner the hands towards your left and shift the weight back again then move front the left hand followed by right-hand palm settling gently on the left hand to push it hard. Then take the arms back only to push it forward one more time but this time harder than earlier. With the Grasp the bird’s tail, leg movement shift from left to right keep the weight balanced and improves defensive stability.
Bow and arrow stance
Bow and Arrow stance seems quite easy to get along but the weight one’s legs have to carry together needs a lot of practice. To begin with, stand in little action pose by keeping both the fists tighten, elbows backward and both the knees bent little bit towards the ground. Then turn 45 degrees right pivoting the heels whilst keeping the fists in the same position. Just turn the torso and pivot the heels points thus to make right knee facing the right side and left knee turned downside as the left leg is stretched back. To keep the pose correct, maintain the balance and weight on your heels. Try not to be confused with the fists placement and torso rotation.
The swallow skims across the water
Sweep the sword with a falling step or the swallow skims across the water represents a perfect martial art movement as the left leg and left hand raised pointing towards left whilst the body resting on right leg with right hand raised above head with the palm facing towards left. The exercise begins by drawing the left foot down to the ground stretched back sharing the body weight with the bent right leg and paralleling left hand with right hand towards the right side. Then on shift the position to left side as if the right hand comes down and directed towards the left and the left carried over with it towards its actual position. The legs are bent exactly in reverse to the previous action, thus left knee bent and right leg stretches back. Even for this exercise, the hip joint should be well fit.
Searching the sea
Perform this step with the right leg in action and take it forward to keep it parallel with the left leg. Lower the left hand in a way to catch right wrist followed by twisting the waist as if to look back. Then on, bring down the right hand to move it rightwards in an arc to search the sea by raising left knee. Settle down with right leg balancing body weight, left arm raised above the head, left knee kept upward and right arm facing straight down to the ground as if it caught the sword ready to poke in. If you are holding a sword, it should be in a vertical position to the floor. To do this exercise one must not be aggressive and should keep the legs ready to flow in with the movement.
The green dragon emerges from the water
As the name suggests, this exercise starts with drawing the right foot back to take the bigger action as the green dragon takes while emerging from the water. With the right foot drawn back, torso twisted rightwards, right hand quite parallel to right shoulder and left hand supporting it, the action begins with the stretched left leg forcing torso to turn towards to left blowing a bigger push with the right hand as the left hand raised overhead and right leg stretched back to support the leaning torso. As for every exercise, even the green dragon needs a perfect hip movement and sometimes not so aggressively.
Parting the wild horse’s mane
Stand erect and put the left foot out to balance the body equally while raising both the arms shoulder high (ensure you turn down both the palms). Then slowly, come down a little bit by bending the knees and turn a little towards the right while hands practicing the holding the ball session and then turn towards left a little bit. This is called parting the wild horse’s mane which usually requires non-aggressive foot movement and quiet and relaxed body position.
The most famous step to strengthen your legs in Tai chi is Single Whip. In this step, one should start from push stage in Yang style and then turn towards left for 180 degrees while concentrating on the heel movement. With a slight forward movement in the left leg keep the right leg just turned around. Keep the right hand in line with shoulder facing the palm down and the left hand exactly parallel to left leg’s movement opened outward as if to push.
In between while settling with the final pose, bring in the right and left hand in an extended way rather pulling them totally inward. With both hands extended far away on the opposite direction though on the same shoulder line and both legs broadened balance is on the left leg (little bent) and the right leg stretched back; the Single Whip tai chi exercise can strengthen the legs to balance the body posture.
Brush knee twist step
To caution you, brush knee twist step is one of the worst culprits to hurt your knees. Stressing on that point, let us start with an erect pose moving out the left foot and settling with L pose. Then on relax, and twist your torso slowly towards left thus completely facing your left side. Then shift the weight from right leg to left making the latter rock solid and the former relaxed now. The brush knee twist step is somewhat dangerous for people who have no perfect co ordination with knees and their movements.
The White Ape offers the fruit
It refers to the posture when in ancient times people used to offer a fruit. Being erect in a position take leverage of your right leg bending forward and left leg stretched back whilst left arm stretched open in the air in the same line to shoulder line. In the same time, bend your right arm inwards facing the palm just above the chest but in line with armpits. Twist the body towards right without moving legs and bring the left arm to touch the right hand. Bend slightly down and embrace both the palms with one another to gain the weight to push/offer a fruit straight stretching both the arms outwards from your body exactly in line with your chin. While doing so, push up the body and move forward. To practice this get the right movement of your wrists otherwise the push application could go wrong.