Did you know that some of the biggest muscles in your body are located in your legs?
Every day, your legs are constantly busy as you go about your daily life, whether that is working out at the gym or standing all day long at work.
Despite performing such a vital role, our legs are often overlooked and neglected.
Many of us only think about our legs when a problem arises, or when summer arrives and we are faced with the prospect of showing them in public!
However, taking care of your legs is about more than removing hair before putting on your shorts on a sunny day. Your legs can be an important indicator of your general health, so taking care of them and noticing any changes all year long is essential.
Keeping your legs in the best health does not need to be complicated, and you don’t need to use heavily-processed lotions and potions to achieve leg health.
Instead, a back to basics approach that focuses on nurturing your leg health is often the best method.
If you want to achieve naturally healthy legs that also look great, these tips should help you to achieve that:
1. Look out for potential leg problems
Circulatory issues are a problem that many people experience. Varicose veins and lymphoedema (a long-term (chronic) condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues usually within the legs) are among the most common leg problems.
If you think you may have either of these conditions, it is important to seek medical advice. Your doctor may advise you to wear compression stockings on your lower legs to help encourage your blood to circulate and to reduce any swelling.
If the idea of wearing compression stockings fills you with dread, don’t worry, there are many available to choose from in a wide choice of colours and patterns. Get ready to look online for compression socks with credit card poised for action, as you will likely find more than one pair that you love!
If you are struggling to pull on your stockings then zippered compression socks are the answer. These are much easier to put on and take off, to stop you struggling every day. These can help with leg pain and tiredness, stimulate blood flow and are perfect for travel as well as medical conditions.
Pain or problems in your legs can also signal other health problems in your body. Here are some examples from Harvard Health Publishing:
- Leg cramps: Cramps in the legs are usually a sign your body is dehydrated and needs more fluids. Your body cannot work effectively without proper hydration so always remember to drink water throughout the day and especially when exercising.
- Calf pain during activity: “Pain in your legs that’s triggered by activity—along with weak pulses in your legs and feet, pale skin, and sores on your legs or feet that don’t heal well—are signs of peripheral artery disease, a blockage in blood flow to your legs. The most likely cause is atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of the arteries as a result of sticky cholesterol and fat deposits called plaques.”
- Pain, burning, numbness, tingling: If you have diabetes then your leg pain might be something called diabetic neuropathy. Nerve damage can be caused by having constant high blood sugar levels.
- Leg swelling: As mentioned above, lymphoedema may be causing any constant swelling in the legs, or it could signal a worrying problem with the heart, kidney or liver. If you haven’t had an injury and have swollen legs you can’t explain then you should seek the advice of your GP.
2. Choose the right nutrition for leg health
Taking a holistic approach is the best option to keep legs healthy, so it is vital to consider the role that your diet plays in the health of your legs.
Everyone knows that eating a healthy diet is essential for general health. As well as enjoying a nutritionally-balanced approach to eating, you may also like to focus on including some specific foods that could actively improve the health of your legs.
Anti-inflammatory foods are an excellent addition to your diet for leg health, so incorporating ginger into your mealtime is a great choice.
Anti-oxidant-rich foods such as blackberries and blueberries will help to give your circulatory system a boost and also have anti-inflammatory qualities.
It is a wise idea to take care of the amount of salt in your diet too. Excessive salt in your diet can cause water retention, which is bad news for your legs.
Some of the best plant based foods for healthy bones are dark leafy greens and legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils) which contain high amounts of calcium. Dark leafy greens also contain lots of vitamin K which helps to build strong bones.
There are also numerous plant based foods for protein to keep your leg muscles healthy. Many people mistakenly think you can’t get protein on a vegan diet, but here is a list of vegan protein sources for starters:
- Pulses – lentils, chickpeas, garden peas, beans
- Beans – black, kidney, pinto, lima, black-eyed, cannellini
- Soy – tofu, soya milk, tempeh, edamame beans, textured vegetable protein (TVP)
- Seeds – hemp seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower
- Nuts and nut butters – almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, Brazil nuts, peanuts, pecans
- Rice – brown, wild
- Grains – spelt, teff, amaranth, sorghum, quinoa, bulgur wheat, wheat berry, freekeh, barley, amaranth, farro
- Green veg – asparagus, avocado, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, artichokes, kale, spinach
- Other veg – sweetcorn, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes
- Nutritional yeast
- Ezekiel bread (sprouted grain bread)
3. Stay active for healthy legs
If you tend to sit down all day for work, your circulation can be affected.
However, it is also not good to stand up all day as this causes the blood to pool in your lower legs and you may also experience swelling.
Staying active is an excellent way to take care of your legs, just avoid standing for too long at one time.
Your exercise doesn’t need to be an intense level of physical activity to improve your leg health. Going for regular walks is beneficial, as is swimming and cycling.
Yoga is also an excellent physical activity for improving your circulation and boosting the health of your legs.
4. Nourish your skin to keep legs healthy
Having healthy legs feels great, but you probably want them to look as good as they feel.
Keeping your legs looking healthy is not just about vanity; instead, it is a crucial part of keeping them free from potential problems.
Look out for the signs of a problem such as cuts or grazes on the leg that don’t seem to be healing, swollen areas of skin, or patches of dis-coloured skin. If you notice any of these, it is essential to get them checked out by a medical professional.
As long as you don’t have broken areas of skin, it can be beneficial to gently exfoliate your legs to remove dead skin cells, which will help to take away any dullness.
You don’t need to use products that have questionable chemicals and synthetic ingredients either. A homemade scrub is easy to make for a natural solution. Here’s a great brown sugar scrub example from Healthline:
- “Combine a 1/2 cup of brown sugar with a 1/2 cup of oil you have on hand. Coconut, olive, almond, or grapeseed oil are all good choices.
- Apply it in circular motions to the legs, and rinse thoroughly.”
Moisturising your legs regularly can also help them to look great. Instead of heavily perfumed body creams, choose natural options that work in harmony with your skin to help it feel good and look great.
Enjoy your healthy legs!
You rely on your legs everywhere you go. Make sure you treat them well with the right nutrition (inside and out), exercise, and spot any leg problems that need solving.
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