If your feet seem to feel cold or tingly on a regular basis, then you may be having issues with poor foot circulation. You need to visit your doctor in order to get to the root of the problem, so it can be addressed in a way that will help increase blood flow.

But why is this happening? What causes poor foot circulation, and how can you improve it? Here are some reasons why this problem occurs and a few tips that could help.

Why Poor Foot Circulation Happens

People have problems with poor circulation in their feet and other areas of the body for lots of reasons. One common cause is a condition known as peripheral artery disease, which occurs when the arteries narrow due to a buildup of too much fat. When this happens, blood flow is decreased to your feet and other extremities.1

Another reason for poor foot circulation is due to the constriction of blood vessels. This happens as a response to cold. There are certain conditions that cause your blood vessels to become smaller because your body senses that it needs to conserve heat.2

Get Moving

Foot Circulation | DermalMedixWhen it comes to the question of how to improve foot circulation, one of the best things you can do – as long as your doctor says it’s safe to do so, of course – is to start a regular exercise program.3 Working out helps to improve the performance of your heart and your blood vessels. It could also play a role in keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level.4

Talk to your doctor about possibly working with a physical therapist or another professional who can get you started on a safe exercise program you can perform at home.

Elevate

When you’re at home relaxing, try lying on the couch with your feet elevated above your heart. This will help keep blood from accumulating in your legs and feet and also help improve poor circulation.5

Quit Smoking

There are a lot of reasons to quit smoking, of course, and one of them is this: it could help improve blood circulation in your feet, as well as the rest of your body.

You see, tobacco contains chemicals that actually stick to your blood vessels. Over time, this leads to the accumulation of deposits in the walls of your arteries. As the arteries narrow, blood has a harder time getting where it needs to go. This can not only result in poor circulation, but other problems as well. These include changes to skin color, brittle toenails, skin flaking and, in severe cases, even leg ulcers.6

Watch Your Diet

Foot Circulation | DermalMedixOne way to improve circulation may be to reduce the amount of fats and cholesterol in your diet. Too much fat and cholesterol in your body can contribute to the narrowing of your arteries in your feet, arms, and legs.7

To help promote healthy circulation in your feet and throughout your body, try to eat more vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and lower your salt intake. Additionally, try to reduce the amount of red meat you’re eating, and boost the amount of fish you consume. You should also limit the number of sodas you drink, and cut back on eating sweet foods.8

Before you make any sort of major changes to your diet, talk to your doctor first. They can work with you on am eating plan to help ensure whatever changes you’re making are as safe (and healthy) as possible.

When to Seek Medical Help

Again, if you notice the signs of poor circulation, you’ll need to speak with a medical professional as soon as you can. This is especially important if you have cramping or pain in your legs and the discomfort goes away when you rest.9

Your doctor will likely perform tests to determine why you’re having problems, and to figure out how to best improve circulation in your feet. Tests may include an ultrasound, blood pressure tests, and tests for blood sugar levels or dangerous clots.10

The Bottom Line

Never ignore the signs of poor circulation in feet, such as muscle cramps, tingling, or numbness.11 If you fail to get this problem addressed, you might be at risk of developing severe health problems. In some cases, circulation problems can even be life-threatening. Take the time to get checked out.

Learn More:
Help! My Toes Are Blue! (3 Ways to Get Rid of It)
What’s Causing Your Foot Cramps? (and how to prevent them)
Dr. David Watts’ ULTIMATE GUIDE to Swollen Feet & Ankles

Sources
1.https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000170.htm
2.https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/heart-and-blood-vessel-disorders/peripheral-arterial-disease/raynaud-syndrome
3.http://www.advancedphysicalmedicine.org/blog/2012/04/20/the-top-3-methods-to-help-boost-poor-circulation/
4.https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art-20046974
5.https://www.veininstitutenj.com/the-importance-of-elevating-your-legs/
6.http://www.afdrs.com/blog/news/post/the-effects-of-smoking-on-your-feet-and-legs
7.https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000171.htm
8.https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935
9.https://www.stjohnhealthsystem.com/heart-institute/about/faqs/how-do-i-know-if-i-have-circulatory-problems-in
10.https://www.healthline.com/health/poor-circulation-symptoms-causes
11.https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/cardiovascular_diseases/chronic_venous_insufficiency_85,P08250

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About the Author

Dr. David Watts

Dr. David Watts is a world-famous plastic surgeon working at Johns Hopkins Medical School. He also spent 16 years in the Army Reserve, reaching the rank of Major, and is blessed to have helped thousands of our nation’s soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.