Unfortunately, this is common for many people who sit at a desk all day. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, people who sit for about eight hours a day are three times more prone to experience foot swelling. Below are some tips to prevent foot swelling while sitting at your desk.
Why Do My Feet Swell When I Sit? - Here are Some Reasons
Due to the gravitational pull of the blood downwards into the feet when Sitting for a long time without moving or remaining in the static position, there is no muscular contraction to push the blood upward towards the heart, due to which the interstitial fluid starts accumulating in the foot causing swelling. Several other factors, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, postural hypotension, obesity, pregnancy, etc., can cause swelling.
Being an office worker, you may find it hard to avoid sitting for long periods, especially if you work in an office with limited space. However, some ways can be used to prevent swollen feet while sitting at your desk.
What causes feet to swell when sitting in an Office chair?
According to the American Heart Association, most Americans sit for more than seven hours daily. Sitting for a long time can contribute to swelling in your feet and ankles because it decreases blood flow, which increases the chance of fluid retention. Swelling of limbs due to long periods of sitting is called dependent edema. The swelling itself is not painful. However, it can be uncomfortable and cause more issues in the future, like varicose veins. The fluid is pulled down to the legs by gravity which causes significant swelling.
Sitting for long hours can also cause blood clots in your veins, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The clot formed can move into circulation to the heart and lungs and can cause severe conditions like pulmonary embolism (PE).
Medications & Surgeries - that can cause Foot Swelling.
Medicines and Surgeries are also one of the leading causes of foot swelling while sitting for long periods at your desk. Some of them are Calcium-channel blockers, anti-depressant, NSAIDs, Steroids, Hormones, post-surgical Edema, etc.
The best way to prevent foot swelling is to avoid sitting for long periods. However, if you have to sit for a long time, try these tips:
Rest your feet on a low stool. Elevate your feet as high to the level of the body as possible. If you can't get them up that high, place them on a low stool or box.
Regular Exercise for Swelling Reduction
The foot movement is limited while we remain seated in our chairs. Simple exercises can help move the muscles and lower the swelling by moving the build-up fluids back to the body's center. Exercise helps keep our bodies healthy overall, and also it helps maintain good circulation throughout our bodies. Some of the exercises to prevent foot swelling are leg extensions, knee lifts, ankle circles, foot pumps, etc.
Try frequent breaks from sitting in a static position and walking around. Try getting up once every hour or two and walking around for a few minutes at intervals — even if it's just around your office or cubicle area. This will help keep blood flowing through your legs and help prevent swelling from occurring in the first place.
Wear Compression Stockings
Compression stockings can also help. They're specially designed to prevent swelling, which is why they're so helpful for people who spend hours sitting at a desk each day.
Compression stockings give you more energy throughout the day by improving circulation and by preventing blood clots from forming in your legs.
These tight garments are available at any pharmacy and come in different sizes and compression levels depending on how much support you need.
Keep your feet Elevated
This will allow more blood circulation throughout the body. It reduces pressure from poor circulation, which may be caused by sitting for long hours without moving around much. Another reason is that you are not stretching out muscles often enough for proper oxygenation of tissues in affected areas like lower limbs (feet).
To elevate your feet, you can use a small pillow or towel.
You can also rest them on a stool.
If you don't want to buy anything, try using the couch to support your feet while sitting in an armchair.
For better results, consider purchasing a footrest with cushions and adjustable height options so you can adjust it according to your legs and comfort level.
Improve your Diet & Drink Plenty of Water
Water is an essential part of staying healthy and hydrated, so make sure you're drinking enough to keep your body properly hydrated. If you don't drink enough water, it can lead to dehydration and other serious health issues. Dehydration also affects your energy level and mental alertness, making it difficult for anyone who works at a desk job. Diet also plays a vital role in your overall health. You can follow a low-salt and magnesium-rich diet. The Standard recommended salt intake is 10 grams for men and eight for women.
According to the research, too much salt intake can increase fluid retention and cause swelling.
Massage your Foot
You can also treat chair-induced swollen feet by massaging your feet between long work hours. Messaging can relax the muscles in your legs and reduce swelling. Circular massage motion on the sole of your foot also helps relieve tension in the shock-absorbing fat pads of the foot.
Hydrotherapy, Cold pack & Warm water
You can soothe your swollen feet in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes. The heat of warm water will induce vasodilation which will improve blood circulation and reduce swelling. You can also add Epsom salt to the footbath.
Hydrotherapy is also used to treat foot edema. Hydrotherapy includes activities like running underwater, Aquatic massage, and Aquatic exercise. It reduces swelling by compressing the effects of water on your feet, improving circulation.
Icing is also effective at reducing pain and swelling because the cold constricts blood vessels and decreases circulation to the swollen area.
Stretching Now and Then
Stretching can help increase blood flow and reduce swelling. These include:
Standing up periodically (every 20 minutes)
Walking around while at work/school
Standing on one leg (1 minute each)
Doing ankle pumps (20 times)
The best thing to do is make small changes in your life that will benefit your feet. If you have a job where you sit at a desk or are on your feet all day long, try the tips mentioned above.
Moving around more often and using compression stockings will help with swelling and pain from standing all day long. Drinking plenty of water will also keep your body hydrated, which means healthier skin!