Many people don’t realize it, but our feet and heart health are deeply connected. With February being American Heart Month, we wanted to share information regarding this connection and tips to keep them both healthy and happy.
Your “Foot Beat”
Your heart is a muscle that works to pump blood throughout your body, with our blood being responsible for bringing oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in your body.
Once this blood has delivered the nutrients, it needs to return to the heart to be re-oxygenated in the lungs and then cycles through the heart again. This return of the blood to the heart is referred to as venous return, and as you could imagine can sometimes be challenging to get the blood all the way back up from the tips of our toes!
But not to worry, as we have a built in “second heart” in our feet. The simple action of moving the ankle up and down, such as when we walk, activates our calf pump and it pushes the blood back up to the heart.
Impact of Venous Insufficiency
Sometimes due to medical reasons or inactivity this return of venous blood is insufficient and can cause a blood volume deficiency leading to impaired cardiac output and heart issues.
This decreased cardiac output doesn’t just affect the heart itself but all parts of the body, including the feet. Swelling or edema, varicose veins, discoloration of the skin and nighttime leg cramps are just a few of the symptoms that may be experienced with venous insufficiency.
Heart Over Heels Approach
For those that may be experiencing early signs of venous insufficiency or if you are looking to support healthy foot circulation then the below tips should be integrated into your routine.
Walk This Way
One of the best ways to support venous return is with movement, such as walking. The action of pushing off to take a step or to go upstairs forces our calves to contract and pushes the blood back up to our heart.
Try to fit in at least 5,000 steps a day if you can for optimal foot and heart health.
Foot & Leg Massage
Focused massage to the foot and lower leg can also support bringing blood back up to the heart. Specialized lymphatic massages are especially beneficial as these focus on the extracellular fluid which can cause edema.
If you are performing the massage always focus on upward motions that support the natural return of venous blood.
Skin Health Counts Too!
An often-overlooked part of foot circulation health includes the skin and nails. Hydration is of utmost importance as it supports the natural barrier that the skin provides.
Look for products that are pH balanced and do not contain any harsh ingredients. Products such as those by Footlogix are a great option for those with sensitive skin or circulation concerns as they contain a unique Dermal Infusion Technology which allows for fast absorption without occluding the skin or causing irritation.