How to Reduce Foot Swelling: A Complete Guide

foot swelling

For many athletes, and for people in general, swelling is a very common occurrence during activity.  As the blood pumps into the body and you get more and more active and further into your workout or game, or even on your day at work standing or walking, your feet start to swell up more and more.  A lot of times, this is natural and should be expected, but some of the time it is not such a good thing to have happen.  It can cause you pain, both because the swelling itself is painful and because your shoes no longer fit very well.  Today, we are going to look at some things that you can do to help yourself or the person close to you to alleviate some of those pains.

Reasons They Could Be Swollen 

There are a few things that could be causing your feet to swell up.  In addition to a lot of days working or being on your feet, there are other issues that could be at hand, or foot, in this instance.  One of the other things that could be factoring in is travel.  Traveling also causes this, though, it is because of the opposite reason of activity.  It’s believed by many scientists and doctors that all of the inactivity cause the blood to knot up in your veins.  Provided you don’t have any major foot related health problems, this is totally normal and harmless.  Surgery also is something that can cause it to happen, and you want to be a little more careful to make sure there are no blood clots related to it.  Pregnancy is a big one contributor to foot swelling, too, and that is just something to expect once you have gotten pregnant.

Good News About Swelling

Swelling and good news probably don’t go well together for you, especially if you are here trying to prevent it from happening, but there isn’t cause for major concern.  Usually if you feel like you are sore as can be from your shoes consistently, then there is a problem to be had and you need to change them before you do chronic damage.  But on the whole, swelling is not like that.  While it is downright uncomfortable at times, swelling- medically known as ‘edema’- is not an emergency situation just because it is happening.  It typically does not discriminate, either, with it taking shape on both sides of the body at a given time.  Despite the good news, there is some poor news to go with it.  There isn’t much of a cure for it, and you just have got to be able to manage it somehow.  Here’s a few ways to do just that.

Ways to Reduce Swelling


Wear Compression Socks 

Wearing compression socks might sound like a fad of sorts, but this is the real deal.  From athletes to diabetic patients, this type of clothing has made a big difference to people the world over.  Socks like these look to cut out the source of the problem right off the bat by forcing the blood to flow throughout the foot better.  One thing you will want to look for is those that are lightweight.  There are some made for sports that are very tight as well, and those might not be the very best that you could find to use for this purpose.  Though they would work, they might make you uncomfortable at the end of a very long day.



It’s backwards and almost funny to think that elevation can help your swelling, yet something as simple as flying cross country in an airplane can make it happen.  But that’s what actually happens!  In this case, elevation can be utilized in a couple of ways to cut down on the amount of swelling you are seeing.  Firstly, you can try propping your feet up.  If you get a chance to during the day, maybe on a break, this would be great a great idea.  You can use a chair that is similar in height to the one you are sitting in, and that should help.  At home, you can use an Ottoman or another chair, too.  Another helper is the ancient art of yoga.  Yoga is truly great for the muscles, as it can help you become more flexible and to recover much better.  It can also make your swelling go down as well.  Try a pose where your legs are in the air up against the wall, or if you want to get more advanced go into plow or a shoulder stand.  These moves can be found online pretty easily with a tad bit of research!


Exercise Helps, Too 

Curiously, for some people exercising is a way to make their swelling go down.  This is normally true for those of us that find ourselves in the not-so-active lifestyle.  If you don’t do a whole lot of moving around, even though you might stand up at work, or you travel a lot, those can combine to create swelling.  Inactivity can really bite you…  Exercise, though, helps combat that.  Just by doing simple things like stretching can help.  If you want to get into something consistent that isn’t hard on the joints, then swimming is a good shout.  It’s not going to put a big load on you, and it will also help the skin flourish.



While not recommended for people that are self-diagnosing (you should always consult a doctor about this), you could add magnesium to your diet and see a very noticeable difference in the size of your feet.  The idea is to add an amount, preferably between 200 and 400 mg, to your diet in an effort to make your body limit the amount of water that you hold in as well as the pain you are experiencing.  This is not the first method to turn to, as magnesium can be hard on the heart and kidneys, so you should definitely talk to a doctor or two before beginning a regiment.


Epsom Salt

Something I have gotten people for Christmas gifts for years, epsom salt is another fine idea to help you get rid of that pesky swelling, or at least alleviate some of it for a while.  Simply take the Epsom salt and put it into a cool bath and then let your feet and ankles sit in it for up to 20 minutes.  Be very careful is you have diabetes, because the temperature might be too hot for you and you won’t know it.  If you have neuropathy, check with your hands to make double sure that you won’t be injuring your feet, which are already in poor shape to begin with.


Weight Loss

Perhaps the hardest thing to do might be your best bet if you are at wit’s end.  And that is losing weight.  This is very tough to do for some people, as it involves a lot of dieting, exercise, or both.  Sleeping habits will need to change as well, making it a hard time on you.  But if you are serious about limiting swelling from taking its hold on you, then this could be the ticket.  And, unless you are already tiny, it will help make your general health all the better, too, which is never a bad idea.


Combining Methods 

In science, you wouldn’t want to ever combine two things when seeking to prove a hypothesis.  The reason for that is due to the fact that if something went good- or bad- then you’d have no chance to prove it one way or another.  But with swollen feet, then direct opposite is appropriate and even encouraged.  You should be using multiple methods, as discussed above, in an effort to make it better.  Which ones you go with are ultimately up to you and your doctor, but if you stick with it you might just find the magic combo to making it right.


Things to Be Aware Of

We mentioned earlier how swelling is generally going to take root on both sides of the body.  If you notice that this is not happening and that only one side is going through this, then you are at risk for what is called “deep vein thrombosis.”  If you see this happening, or if you are noticing blisters or ulcers forming frequently, then you should immediately call the doctor and get in as soon as possible.

Lastly, you can be sure that your shoes aren’t the culprit by getting the right fit.  It’s hard to do sometimes, but if you go to try on shoes (this is really a must if you are having swelling problems at all) this can be greatly laid aside.  By going to the store, you can get the right fit and feel for your specific foot.  But you have at the proper time.  If you happen to go right after you wake up or on a lazy day, you will not feel like you will at the end of your day.  Therefore, you could be getting shoes that are way too tight for you and not knowing it.  You’ll feel great in them trying them on and wearing them in store, but when the work begins you’ll hurt.  You can prevent this by always making sure that you have a thumbs width between the toes and the end of the shoes, and that you have measured later in the day or post-activity!

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