How to Increase Blood Circulation to the Feet for Diabetics

Updated April 17, 2017

Foot care is extremely important when you are a diabetic. Nerves can be damaged in the feet so you may not realise when you have a wound. Your blood supply is also affected due to slower circulation. When poor foot circulation occurs, wounds are slower to heal and swelling, numbness and cold feet can occur. Amputation may be necessary if you do not take adequate care of your feet. If you know how to increase blood circulation to the feet, you are less likely to experience complications.

Elevate your feet when you plan to sit for long stretches of time by using a cushioned footstool. When lying in bed, use a contoured leg cushion to raise your feet.

Take a break from sitting by rotating your ankles and wiggling your toes for five minute sessions at least three times a day to increase blood flow.

Exercise to promote increased blood flow throughout the body, especially the feet, with low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, dancing and cycling.

Choose soft surfaces to walk on such as sand, dirt or grass, and wear cushioned soles in your shoes to absorb impact of the feet.

Soak your feet using warm water and Epsom salts in a foot bath, according to manufacturer's instructions. The warm water promotes circulation by dilating the blood vessels in the feet.

Quit smoking, if you smoke any type of tobacco product. Consider nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum or a patch, to help you quit. Smoking can narrow and harden the arteries, thereby restricting blood flow to the feet and other body areas.

Wear socks, such as diabetic therapy socks, that will not restrict circulation to the feet.

Follow a well-balanced diet as prescribed by your doctor to control cholesterol and blood pressure. High blood sugar, fat and cholesterol all contribute to the narrowing and hardening of arteries, which can restrict blood flow in the feet.

Massage your feet briskly using your hands or have a partner do it for you. Massaging stimulates your blood vessels allowing better blood circulation.


If you cannot find diabetic therapy socks, choose regular socks that do not have tight tops or require garters as these can restrict blood flow to the feet. You can use pillows to elevate your feet when necessary if you cannot find a contoured leg cushion suitable for your needs or budget.


Do not cross your legs for long periods of time as this action will restrict the blood circulation in your feet. Do not exercise when you have any open sores or other injuries to your feet as this can affect healing time and overall blood circulation.

Things You'll Need

  • Cushioned footstool
  • Contoured leg cushion
  • Shoes with extra cushioning
  • Foot bath
  • Epsom salts
  • Nicotine patch or gum
  • Diabetic therapy socks
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About the Author

Tiana Mortimer has been Executive Director for a nonprofit boychoir organization since 1999 and a freelance writer since 2004. Her nonprofit work has been published in a variety of regional publications and she has ghostwritten hundred of articles for the internet. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Operations Management and Marketing from the University of Houston.