Puffy Legs…. It Does NOT Have To Be Normal

I have worked in skilled nursing facilities for many years and one of the most common things I see is swelling in the lower legs. The typical response I get from patients is that it is normal and nothing to worry about. I do not completely agree with the statement that it is normal and I firmly believe the problem can be improved if not solved with the right strategies. Good strategies include specific exercises to support the flow of the fluid and using the right foods and supplements to support the body’s elimination system.

Our bodies are designed to use muscle contraction and movement to help push excess fluid out of the lower legs. The arteries and veins have significant levels of smooth muscle on them to assist with the movement of the fluid in the right direction and to help with pressurization of the system. The higher pressure helps with movement of the fluid. The arteries and veins are not directly responsible for getting the fluid out of the tissues. The lymphatic system, which is a low pressure system and has minimal smooth muscle as compared to the arteries and veins, are responsible for pulling the fluid out of the tissues.

The lower legs are more prone to fluid buildup due to gravity pulling down. Due to there being less musculature in the actual lymph vessels the body relies a bit heavier on contraction of the big muscle groups in the lower legs to help push the fluid out of the tissues and into the lymph and up the leg to dump into the venous system where it can then be filtered and removed by the kidneys. Strong, full active contraction of the lower leg can help facilitate this process.

Pulling the toes up and back as hard as possible (dorsiflexion) followed by pushing the toes down as hard as possible (Plantarflexion) can help with using the strong muscles to squeeze and push the fluid. It is important to contract the muscles hard and hold for 1-2 sec in each direction. You can also bring the foot side to side (inversion is inward and eversion is outward) to utilize the muscles on the side of the leg to help as well.

Active movement is an integral part of getting the fluid out of the lower legs; however, it may not be the full solution for many people. Additional strategies may be necessary including eating foods that are natural diuretics. The strongest food diuretic that I know of is watermelon. Just a few slices of watermelon can stimulate the kidneys to remove excess fluid from the system. Unlike coffee and caffeine, watermelon helps the liver to process the ammonia, which eases the strain on the kidneys. I had a patient who diligently ate 2-3 slices of watermelon a day and the swelling in her legs reduced to less than half in less than 2 weeks. Cucumber, celery and lemon also work as diuretics; however, not as strongly as the watermelon. Sipping on cucumber and lemon infused water throughout the day is refreshing while being healthy for the kidneys and reducing swelling.

The form of swelling in the tissues is also important. Pitting edema is where the tissues will indent with pressure. The tissues will feel boggy and the indentation will be left in the tissues for 10 sec or up to many minutes. This form of swelling is worse than swelling that bounces back when you push on the tissues. The severity of the pitting edema is determined by the length of time it takes for the indentation to fill back in to normal. Pitting edema can indicate a deficit in thyroid function.

Understanding the differences in the swelling is important because many times when natural measures are taken to reduce swelling the swelling may not look like it is reducing; however, it will go from pitting edema to non-pitting (bouncy). This change in quality of swelling is a huge improvement and it means you are going the right direction in healing the problem.

Utilizing supplements can be a highly effective way of supporting various organs that play a role in fluid elimination for the body. As I had mentioned earlier, pitting edema can indicate a deficit in thyroid function. You would need a test to definitively determine a thyroid deficit; however, some symptoms include feeling cold, tired and easy weight gain around the abdomen. Taking herbal supplements can help support thyroid function. I have found Natures Sunshine products to be consistent, reliable and high quality so most of my supplement suggestions are with this company. If you are curious about Natures Sunshine quality control I recommend clicking this link to watch a video located at the top of my website www.lisamariekeller.net.

Natures Sunshine has two different thyroid supplements. Thyroid Activator contains trace minerals and iodine which are essential for the synthesis of the thyroid hormones T3 T4 along with multiple herbs that support glandular function. Thyroid Support contains powerful glandular extracts from thyroid, hypothalamus and pituitary glands to directly support those glands since they work as a team. The Thyroid Activator and Thyroid Support supplement blends synergistically work to support healthy thyroid function.

Additional herbal support can also help promote kidney function and help clear retained water from the body and Natures Sunshine has a unique Chinese formula called Kidney Activator that comes in standard strength and concentrated. This herbal blend has historically been used to support kidney, bladder and urinary tract while also supporting the lymphatic system to clear out retained fluids. It can help with joint health by clearing out excess fluids from around joints, especially in the ankles, feet and knees. It can also contribute to overall energy and stamina.

Elimination of excess fluid can have several positive side effects, including improved balance and increased energy since there is less resistance to movement and increased ability to respond in the muscles and joints. Hopefully you have found this helpful in reducing the swelling in your legs. If you have further concerns and would like a personalized consultation reach out to me at lisakeller888@gmail.com and we can set something up for a personalized one on one consultation. I look forward to hearing from you and helping you further.

In Abundant Health,


About Lisa Marie Keller

Lisa Marie Keller wants to live in a world where it is commonplace to dance to the music of life. As a pain management specialist, she's been working as a Physical Therapist resolving the pain of her patients for a variety of conditions including but not limited to chronic back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, knee pain foot pain and even headaches for over thirteen years. Following seven years of traditional schooling and more years than she would like to remember at the School of Hard Knocks resolving her own pain and body dysfunctions she has become the Queen of Conquering Pain. When she’s not pondering on how to solve the next health dilemma, you can find her dancing around in her living room to music that is played much too loud, making snobby comments about amazing wine and fantasizing about where she is going to travel to next. Her first book — Free My Back — hit the Amazon Marketplace in August 2014. You can get a free e-book version of Free My Back by registering at www.freemyback.com
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