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Swollen Feet and Ankles

Your leg muscles function like a second heart to pump fluid from your legs to your heart. When your leg muscles relax, the veins near them fill up with blood. When your leg muscles contract, they compress the veins and squeeze blood up toward your heart.

When you stand still, your heart has to work very hard to pump blood against gravity from your feet to your heart. When your feet are above your heart, gravity works with you to help blood and fluid return to the heart. Eight hours of standing or sitting causes your feet to swell up to more than 110% of their size. This can make your shoes feel tight and your feet hurt.

The best way to prevent swelling is to elevate your feet. The next best way is to move your feet and toes frequently while you are sitting or standing. This can reduce swelling by more than 50 percent and will usually prevent the pain that it causes. If your feet still swell, check with your doctor. You may have a more serious cause, or you may need diuretics or compression stockings.

Checked 11/25/16

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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