Blood circulation is among the most important natural processes in our bodies. However, most of us have, at some point, felt symptoms related to poor blood circulation in a certain part of our bodies. For instance, have you experienced the feeling of numbness in your arms or legs, or a tingling sensation that you just can’t explain? Do you regularly suffer from cold hands or feet? Or maybe you’ve had cases of swelling in the lower extremities? If the answer to one of these questions is yes, then the likelihood is that you have experienced poor blood circulation.
The mentioned above symptoms are some of the more easy-going ones, but bad blood circulation could pose more serious threats such as cognitive dysfunction, digestive problems, fatigue, joint pain, muscle cramping, and even changes in the color of your skin!
As a result of a range of daily habits or little exercise, poor blood circulation can often be seen in the leg area. There are a number of exercises that can prevent this from happening and a range of accessories, such as compression socks, which can also be of help. Let’s dig deeper into the topic and take a look at some of the exercises that can help with bad blood circulation.
Why is Blood Circulation Important?
For the body to function properly, it is essential that it receives proper blood circulation. Blood circulation provides the brain and other important body organs with the necessary oxygen to carry out their tasks. It also helps us maintain healthy and good-looking skin and plays a huge role in the growth of cells.
Digging deeper, the blood circulatory or the cardiovascular system includes the heart and the blood vessels, which take part in the entire body. Arteries play the role of the transporters of blood away from the heart, while veins help carry it back. The two main systems that make up the cardiovascular system are the systemic and pulmonary ones. We want to avoid complex terminology but in order to understand how blood circulation works, it is essential to imagine these two systems.
The systemic circulation is responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrient-enriched blood to our body’s organs, cells, and tissues. After releasing these substances, it takes away carbon dioxide and lactic acid, both perceived as waste by our bodies. Once the blood is “clean” or deprived of oxygen it can be carried back to the heart.
On the other hand, the pulmonary circulation is active when we inhale oxygen and it is introduced to our bloodstream. The process outlined here is the basic, fundamental way in which our bodies work.
Reasons for Poor Blood Circulation
Let’s imagine that the natural function of blood circulation is damaged and blood can no longer have a free flow as a result of blockages in the arteries, for instance. Poor blood circulation can also occur when the muscles in the body don’t regularly exercise and aren’t forced to move. What can this result in for the body?
If you suffer from poor blood circulation there is a number of negative results to watch out for including:
- Varicose veins
- Leg ulcers
- Blood clots
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular conditions
- Muscle cramps
- Carpal tunnel
Some of the softer results can include numbness of dizziness. Don’t wait until the condition develops further, in which case you may need professional help from a doctor and possibly surgical treatment. There are a number of measures to take early on to prevent poor blood circulation from becoming a nightmare. To help you improve your blood circulation we have prepared a list of exercises and activities that will help blood flow increase and reach all its key points in the body!
Exercises That Can Stimulate Blood Circulation
Blood flow is easily stimulated by regular exercise as it dilates your blood vessels, stimulating blood flow.
Leg extensions require ankle weights or something which can be used in a similar manner. Wrapping the weights to your ankles, sit down on a chair or stable surface to lift your foot up until your knee reaches a point where it is entirely straightened. Hold in this position for a second or two and then release your foot. The advice is to repeat this ten times for three sets on each leg.
This exercise is great for working the muscles on the front of the upper leg, also known as the quadriceps muscles.
The name of this exercise stems from the name of the muscle on the back of the upper leg, known as the hamstring muscle. For this exercise, you will need weights and it is advisable that you are able to position yourself close to a table or chair. Start off by wrapping the weights around your ankles. Bending the right knee, lift your heel up towards your backsides. Hold this position for around a second and release your foot to the ground. If you can find balance without the support of a table or chair you can do this on your own, without additional support. Try to repeat this exercise ten times for three sets on each leg.
Ankle pumps are ideal for developing the calf muscle, which is positioned very close to veins and arteries. Choose a comfortable standing position, which does not cause any pain. From this position, lift your heels in order to put your weight on the balls of your feet. Squeeze the calf muscles for a second and repeat 20 times for a total of three sets.
Once the calf muscles experience this pumping process, blood and lymph will freely move through the veins and arteries of the lower leg. Making this exercise a habit will help you avoid blood clots or swelling in the leg area. The good part about this exercise is that it can easily be done from home and requires no investment whatsoever.
We will call this exercise the “toe exercise” as it starts from the toes but it works out a larger part of the feet, all the way up to the rest of the legs. Place your feet flat on the ground and transfer your weight towards your toes, without removing them from the floor. As more weight goes towards your toes, lift your heels upward, count to three and release. Turn the exercise around by keeping your heels on the ground while lifting your toes up toward the ceiling.
Repeat this exercise ten times each way for each foot to get maximum results.
Most of you probably associate yoga with calming the body and the mid, achieving inner balance and reaching universal peace. Although these points are certainly true and valid for yoga, few people are aware that a range of yoga poses also stimulate blood circulation. The poses that you may benefit from if you suffer from poor blood circulation in the legs are the Downward-Facing Dog, Warrior II, Triangle, or the “Legs up on the Wall”, which can be taken as a separate exercise, external to yoga.
All of the mentioned above yoga poses specifically put pressure on the leg muscles, therefore causing higher blood circulation in the area.
Walking is one of the best ways to stimulate blood circulation but could be quite painful for those who severely lack oxygen in the leg muscles. Walking does increase the need of the body for oxygen and therefore if you cannot provide this necessity you may experience severe cramps or pain in the zone.
The main benefit of walking is that it helps the body form new blood vessels in your legs. The increased formation of blood vessels leads to increased blood flow, reducing pain sensations in the legs and increasing the tolerance towards exercises. Walking is also a highly accessible exercise to most. You can easily turn it into a morning habit in the park before heading to work or an evening activity with a friend. The optimal walking time for increased blood circulation is around three or four times a week for 30 minutes.
If you notice that your body has adapted to this time after a while, you can increase it gradually. A helpful suggestion may be to try using an ankle brace for this activity, which further improves blood circulation in the legs.
Yes, we did say this list will be about exercises but who doesn’t love a good massage, especially if it helps blood circulation! You can get a full body massage with a professional therapist or enjoy one in a calming atmosphere at a luxury spa salon. The important thing is to speak to the masseuse and ask them to pay extra attention to your legs. Leg massages are great for stimulating circulation of blood and lymph and are advisable for the prevention of varicose veins.
You can perform a leg massage on your own body by stroking upward from the ankle heading to the lymph nodes positioned on the back side of the knee. Turning this into a daily habit for a few minutes after work is a great way to boost blood circulation and stay healthy and active! You will be surprised by the immediate effect of the leg massage and its rejuvenating result.
Other Tips for Improving Blood Circulation
Now that you have been introduced with some of the most common exercises that you can try related to improving blood circulation, we must note that there are additional things to consider in order to stimulate the better flow of blood through your body. For instance, try to avoid sitting down or standing up for too long. If your job requires you to do this, take regular pauses or breaks and switch from one position to the other. Crossing your legs while sitting down or worse, sitting on them, will also increase the chance of poor blood circulation.
Wearing comfortable shoes also plays a huge role in blood circulation. If the shoes you wear are too tight this may prevent the free flow of blood and cause discomfort or more serious threats to the body. Your nutrition habits can also influence blood circulation, as well as the consumption of tobacco products. For instance, including food such as fruits, nuts, cayenne, dark chocolate, or green tea can have a positive influence on your blood circulation.
Although regular exercise is key, it is certainly not the only factor, which can influence the flow of blood through your veins and arteries. Adopting a healthy mentality and lifestyle will help you minimize the risk of suffering from conditions reflecting poor blood circulation and will make you feel more energized, healthy and active every day!
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