HEALTHY LEG CARE
Human legs are a remarkable piece of engineering. From waist to toes, there is a framework of more than 60 different bones, and a network consisting of miles of blood vessels. In a lifetime, an average person walks 150,000 kilometers, 9,000 steps a day, and almost four times around the world.
What can I do to prevent leg problems?
Caring for your legs involves many of the same things you would do to ensure your whole-body health, as well as a few leg-specific activities. So what should you do?
Care of your legs should focus on prevention of 3 kinds of problems that are prevention of varicose veins & peripheral vascular disease, prevention of skin & nail problems, prevention of arthritis.
1. Prevention of Varicose Veins and peripheral vascular disease.
- Wear compression stockings, especially on long flights
Anyone who has varicose veins should wear compression stockings, especially when on an airplane.Passengers without existing vein problems who fly long-haul are also at risk of developing clots in the legs and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Anyone going on a flight of more than six hours should use an elastic compression stocking. When on the aircraft, move your feet up and down regularly, and ideally walk regularly around the plane.If you get swollen legs, particularly if it’s just on one side, or you have pain or redness, suspect a DVT; seek medical advice for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Don’t overheat your legs.
Exposure to prolonged or excessive heat during long, hot baths can dilate blood vessels, which decreases the return of blood from the legs to the heart and may result in varicose vein formation. Blast legs with cold water. Showering your legs each day with cold water can improve circulation and tone. Athletes often submerge their limbs in icy water after a heavy training session to reduce swelling and ease soreness.
- Elevate your legs
Regardless of whether you have varicose veins, when reading or watching television, prop up legs parallel to the ground by resting them on a stool or a chair. This helps keep blood from staying in the lower legs and improves blood flow to the rest of your body.
- Keep moving:exercise, walk, fidget, stretch (avoid sitting all day and high heels).
Walking is an excellent way to tone the muscles in the leg, reduce body fat, improve circulation, and build bone and muscle mass. Long periods of sitting, whether at the office, in a car or on a plane leads to blood pooling in your leg veins, and can lead to deep venous thrombosis or blood clots. For every 90 minutes you sit, take a five-minute walking break. Go visit a co-worker, get a glass of water or step outside for a little fresh air.
2. Prevention of skin & nail problems.
- Nourish your skin
Moisturize your skin twice a day to maintain its elasticity and help support tissues, which in turn can prevent varicose veins. There are a multitude of products in numerous brands which can improve and maintain the quality of your skin. Ask your doctor for a suggestion.
- Check for changes in moles
The legs are the most common area of the body in which women get malignant melanomas (the deadliest skin cancer). Be vigilant and check regularly for any changes in colour, size or shape of moles. Skin cancer can occur anywhere, so it’s important to check your skin regularly. Changes in moles are not always obvious, and there are many exceptions to the “rules”, so do not hesitate to ask your doctor if you have any concerns.
- Check for any discoloration or thickening of your toe nails
Toenails can become afflicted by fungal infections as a result of diabetes (lowered immunity), trauma that may have caused a separation of nail from its nailbed, chronically hot and sweaty or moist feet (such as from wearing hot work boots or runners) or from contaminated public shower stalls and pedicure salons. Fungal toenails are discolored, thickened, and brittle. Fungal toenails may be difficult to treat, so the sooner you see a doctor to diagnose and treat nail fungus, the better your chances at eradicating this often stubborn infection. Nail fungus can be treated using either medications or laser therapy.
3. Prevention of Arthritis.
Here are few more simple tips to keep your legs looking great:
- Eat right
Nutritionally, the same rules apply for healthy leg vein circulation as for a healthy heart. Cut back on saturated fats found in red meat and dairy products. Go for mono-saturated fats (such as olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (found in oily fish, cooking oils and some nuts and beans).
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight limits stress on your hips, knees, ankles, and feet, and decreases your chance of developing osteoarthritis of these weight-bearing joints. Being overweight also increases your chance of developing varicose veins which look unsightly and can be painful. There are ways to reduce weight safely and effectively.
- Don’t smoke
Smoking increases the risk of damage to the walls of veins and arteries, and may result in varicose veins, peripheral vascular disease, leg ulcers, and osteoporosis.
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