Cheat Sheet For Swollen Feet


“Ooooh, my aching feet!”

Many of my patients are experiencing sore feet due to swelling. It is a common problem with summer heat. As the temperature rises, our blood vessels expand and in no time, the shoes that once fit perfectly are almost impossible to wear. Swelling (edema) in the legs, feet and ankles can be a symptom of more serious conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes to name a few. Some people are simply more prone to swelling in the hot weather due to aging, gravity, weight, pregnancy, and family history. It is important to find the root cause of the swelling and to seek medical treatment for the underlying condition. However, to treat the symptoms of swelling, especially for swelling brought on by the summer heat, here is a “cheat sheet” of things you can do to alleviate the problem:

  • Footwear: be sure to wear footwear that is not too constricting. Sandals, thongs, or even wearing a size larger than usual can help.
  • Food: Avoid salty foods. Salt contributes to water retention.
  • Eat more foods with diuretic properties such as watermelon, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, cabbage, cucumber, carrots, asparagus, and celery. All are in abundance in the summer. A delicious salad with sliced watermelon for dessert is a great meal choice.
  • Avoid Alcohol. It contributes to fluid retention.
  • Water: Many people stop drinking water when they are retaining fluids. This is a big mistake. Water can help flush the salts in your system. 
    8-10 glass a day will help. Lemon and cucumber are natural diuretics and they have anti-inflammatory properties so its even better to add cucumber and lemon slices to your water…and it tastes great!
  • Activities: Take the weight off your feet and swim if you have access to a pool. Gravity and heat are the factors to beat when it comes to swelling in the feet. A cool dip in the pool will do wonders for you. Also the added movement will help your body get the circulatory system flowing again.

  • If you don’t have access to a pool, try a bath, or even soaking your feet in cool water. Adding Epsom Salt will help with the swelling. Epsom Salt (magnesium chloride) is highly effective in reducing swelling. Adding flower petals will give you that spa-like feel with added aromatherapy!
  • Elevate your feet! Lie down with your legs propped on pillows to keep them higher than your head. Be sure to keep your torso, legs, and arms straight. Bending at the knees, abdomen or elbows will inhibit the blood flow.
  • Massage your swollen feet and legs. It will encourage the stagnant fluid to move throughout your body. Even better, get someone to massage them for you while you lie with your feet elevated.
  • Acupressure: Applying light to moderate pressure to the area above the ankle on the inner leg and light to moderate pressure on the bottom of the bridge of the feet, in the middle can help with swelling. I highly recommend that you get detailed instructions from your acupuncturist before you treat yourself with acupressure to feel confident that you are using the proper technique and hitting the right spots.

When the barometer hits the triple digits, my advice is to keep cool and stay off your feet as much as possible. And of course, see your acupuncturist to help relieve the pain and swelling if the problem persists.

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The Healing Point Acupuncture Clinic
Xia Xin, L.Ac., CSMA


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