What to do to help poor circulation in the legs

Updated February 21, 2017

If you notice your legs, feet and ankles swell up during the day, or your feet always get cold and tingly, or your legs feel painful at times, you have poor leg circulation. You must have good blood flow in order to have a healthy life. Discover ways you can correct poor circulation in your legs starting right now. Make good leg circulation a priority in your life.


The swelling in your legs and feet comes from oedema, a build-up of fluid and blood. Pain in your legs or calves means they're not getting enough blood and oxygen. Cold, tingling, numb feet indicate you have less blood flow to the feet to maintain your body temperature when it's cold.

The causes of poor leg circulation can be from varicose veins (caused by standing for long periods of time or age-related problems), obesity, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), diabetes (which damages small blood vessels), atherosclerosis (narrow or blocked arteries) or lack of exercise. Severely poor circulation can result in blood clots.

Other causes of poor leg circulation are smoking cigarettes, pregnancy, sitting or lying in one position for long periods of time, high blood pressure, and high chloresterol.


Keep your body moving through regular exercise. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do to increase your leg and body circulation. Invest in a treadmill if you're unable to walk outside. Walk up to 30 minutes daily at a regular pace, starting at 1.5 miles per hour for beginners.

Ride your bicycle or use a stationary bike. Pedal on a mini-exercise cycle positioned under your desk at work, in your home office or while reading or watching television and keep your blood flowing.

Stretch your leg muscles through exercises like yoga or Pilates. Purchase yoga books and DVDs, enrol in a yoga class or find yoga and Pilates classes online. Learn "chair yoga," which is highly convenient and effectively increases leg and body circulation.

Diet and Vitamins

Eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes vitamins A (beta carotene), C and E, which strengthen your immune system and increase circulation. Cardiovascular surgeon and author Dr. Mehmet Oz suggests adding paprika and cayenne pepper to your diet to help reduce high blood pressure and improve circulation.

For Vitamin C, increase foods like strawberries, citrus fruits, pineapple, red and green peppers, broccoli, and dark, leafy greens in your diet. Get your Vitamin E from green, leafy vegetables; dried beans; soybeans; raw seeds and nuts; and cold-pressed vegetable oils. Consume eggs, milk, liver and cheese for animal sources of Vitamin A. Eat plenty of beta carotene in carrots, carrot juice, apricots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, leaf lettuce and spinach.

Take daily, 800 mg to 2,000 mg of Vitamin C, up to 2500 IU of Vitamin A and 400 IU of Vitamin E. Only take Vitamin E supplements with "D-alpha tocopherol with mixed natural tocopherols" on the label. If you see "DL," it's artificial.

Compression Hosiery

Buy compression stockings to stimulate your circulation and have them fitted properly so they aren't too tight or too loose. Purchase your stockings at a pharmacy where they have a variety of sizes and types and can special order some for you. Compression socks are also available.

Leg Wedges

Keep your legs raised while sleeping so your legs can properly drain. There are special leg cushions or wedges you can buy to keep your legs elevated or you can make one out of pillows.


Never take over 2,500 IU of Vitamin A supplements--it becomes toxic to the body.

Consult your doctor before starting any exercise.

Quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes further constricts blood circulation.

Limit drinking alcohol and caffeine--they constrict your blood vessels.

Sit in a chair that doesn't press on your thighs. This cuts off circulation to the legs.

Avoid eating fried foods, sugars and animal fats.

Never sit still for long periods of time.

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About the Author

Chyrene Pendleton has been a business owner and newsletter editor for more than seven years. She is a freelance writer with over 25 years experience and teaches a variety of topics, including alternative health, hair care and metaphysics. Pendleton is a certified television show producer, radio talk-show host and producer, and a computer programmer with a bachelor's degree in computer science.