In a lifetime, our legs get us from A to B for a total of around 216 million steps – the equivalent of walking round the world three times! But often it’s only when our legs give us a problem that we pay much attention to how healthy they actually are.
Joint issues, swelling and varicose veins are all common causes of pain in our legs. But the good news is you can look after your pins just by following our straightforward advice!
A hot bath at the end of a long day on your feet feels lovely, but don’t make it too warm. Heat from water – as well as from saunas and a roaring fire – can make your legs swell, which makes them feel heavier and more tired.
Instead, take a warm bath or shower and spray your legs with a blast of cool water to get your circulation going – this can also be very therapeutic if you have Restless Legs Syndrome. While you’re in the tub, massage your calf muscles with your fingers and push your palm down your thighs and shins to relieve any tension that’s built up during the day.
Stand up to pain
If you spend a lot of your day sitting down, make an effort to get up at least every 30 minutes. Sitting down for too long causes the muscles in your legs to get slacker and reduces your circulation.
Daily exercise will help keep your weight down and reduce the pressure on your legs and joints. Swimming is great if you have stiff joints and dancing tones muscles and improves posture.
If you do have to sit down for a long time, change your posture and try to avoid crossing your legs as this can cause cramps.
Take to the stairs
Stretching out your legs, especially after a long time sitting, helps keep the veins in your legs supple and reduces your chance of developing varicose veins, puffy legs or getting an injury.
One of the best stretches for your legs can be done while you’re going upstairs. Facing up the stairs and holding onto the banister, step onto the bottom stair with the balls of your feet. Then slowly let your heels drop off so they’re lower than the level of the step. Hold for a few seconds before lifting your heel back to the level of the front of your foot. Repeat this a few times and you should feel a strong stretch down the back of your calves.
Don’t forget the broccoli
If you regularly get achy legs, you could be lacking in magnesium, the mineral that you get in broccoli and leafy vegetables such as spinach. So stock up on your greens and get plenty of fibre in your diet from brown pasta, rice and bread to keep constipation, which puts an extra strain on your veins, at bay.
Salt is also a big culprit for causing swelling and varicose veins, so try to slash the amount you eat by taking away any table salt and steering clear of processed foods, such as sausages or ready meals.
Walk this way
Most of us don’t know how to walk with good posture to help strengthen our legs and limit pain to our limbs. Start by pulling back your shoulders and lifting your head so you feel tall. Keep your elbows close to your body and gently pull in your stomach and bottom so you’re not arching your back. Then lead forward from your knee rather than your foot and make sure your heel hits the ground before the ball of the foot.
Try a supplement
Weary of dragging around tired, heavy legs? A supplement could be the answer to livening up your pins again. Wonder Legs™ (£23.15/30 tablets) from New Nordic is an all-natural tablet that contains a herbal mix of red vine leaf extract, Scandinavian pine bark, black pepper and Vitamin C. Each tablet is designed to keep the veins in your legs healthy and improve the blood flow so your legs stay strong and relieved of aches and pains. Visit www.newnordic.co.uk to find out more.
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.