In the last few years, life style changes such as increases in rapid transit, work hours, and family involvement has brought about the demise of going for nice walks. This has been detrimental to our leg health. Physicians 10 years ago saw 1 of 10 patients with pitting edema. Today it is 8 out of 10 patients who otherwise seem to be healthy have pitting edema. This is in thin as well as heavy patients. Even though our understanding of the venous system has increased and our physician’s diagnostic tools have become better, the incidents of deep vein thrombosis has not lowered.
It is imperative that we promote a restoration of walking to our activities of daily living as a foundation of leg health and to reverse the epidemic of leg swelling. The calf muscle is a secondary pump to the heart to aid in returning the venous blood to the heart for re-oxygenation. The key to getting the most out of this secondary pump is to have a good walk (two miles a day) with unrestricted ankle range of motion at a moderate pace on a relatively flat surface. This will allow for greatest “pump” from the calf muscle.
Dr Dean Wasserman of the Vein Treatment Center of New Jersey believes a patient’s understanding and compliance with wearing compression stockings is key to the results obtained with Sclerotherapy which he performs. He also believes that while wearing compression stockings and walking will not cure venous insufficiency, moderate walks of 2 miles a day with good heel to toe action will enable his patients to “walk off” their edema within an average of 2 weeks.
If you cannot walk because of joint pain, please try riding a bicycle, which will eliminate the impact to your feet or joints. You will still receive the added calf pump action which assists in the blood flow plus you get the added benefit of seeing the neighborhood scenery by going thru the parks with bicycle paths and you will probably be able to meet other people doing the same thing.
The increase in leg swelling is subtle and menacing. Even though we hear much about incidents of edema), we are failing to actively participate in our own leg health by getting more exercise. No matter what we do for exercise, anything is better than being a couch potato and watching television. Our sedate lifestyles have lead to many physical health problems and shorter healthy lives. Being overweight is one of the most dangerous things we can do to our bodies! Obesity leads to heart problems, diabetes, and many other diseases. So let’s wear our support hose and get out there and reverse the epidemic of leg swelling and by walking or bicycling!!