Poor circulation in the arms and legs is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of conditions, including atherosclerosis, Raynaud’s Disease or simply high blood pressure. Even having poor posture can negatively affect your circulation. By making changes to your habits and lifestyle, you can reduce the numbness, tingling, skin changes and pain associated with poor circulation in your extremities.
Stand up straight. Dr. Ben Kim states that slouching can cause rounded shoulders, which compresses the space between the collarbone and the first rib, where the major blood vessels that transport blood flow to your arms are located. Focus on keeping your ears, shoulders and hips in alignment throughout the day, which will keep your spine straight and keep your arms’ blood vessels open. Dr. Kim also recommends stretching out on your back with pillows wedged underneath your middle and upper spine, which can help prevent the slouching that causes poor arm circulation.
Exercise regularly. Healthier Tomorrow recommends moderate to high intensity cardiovascular exercise to improve circulation throughout the entire body. Leg-dominated exercises, such as biking or jogging, can enable stronger blood flow to the legs. Exercise can also aid the loss of excess weight around the extremities, particularly the legs, which can inhibit circulation. If you work at a job that requires you to sit for several hours at a time, get up and move your arms, hands, feet and legs for several minutes every hour to keep your blood flowing properly.
Elevate your legs above your heart. Lie down on your back and place two or three pillows underneath your legs to alleviate pain and numbness from poor circulation. If possible, do this two or three times daily. Elevating your legs allows your body to drain any pooled fluids back into your body, and your heart can more easily circulate blood from your legs since it no longer has to work against gravity. Sleeping with your legs elevated can further improve circulation.
Wear compression hosiery. Airhealth.org found that air travelers did not develop blood clots when they wore compression hose. This special type of stocking provides most compression at the ankle and less compression higher on the leg. These stockings work by making the diameter of veins smaller and increasing the velocity of blood flow, thus keeping fluids in circulation through your legs.
Consume foods containing cayenne pepper, or ingest the spice in capsule form as a supplement. Cayenne generates heat in the body and can improve blood flow, according to Organic Nutrition. Alternate between hot and cold water temperatures in your shower each day. This causes blood flow to alternate between your skin and your internal organs, which can improve circulation over time.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking constricts arteries and can worsen conditions such as atherosclerosis and Raynaud’s Disease, both of which can inhibit proper blood flow.