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How to Increase Circulation in Feet

Most cases of poor circulation in the feet are associated with artherosclerosis, a condition that causes a thickening and hardening of the arterial walls. In addition, diabetes causes a hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels in the feet that can lead to impaired circulation, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Other risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Treatment involves encouraging blood flow and treating underlying causes.

Wear properly fitting shoes to prevent restricted blood flow due to pressure on the blood vessels in your feet and ankles. Airhealth, a non-profit organization that aims to end flight-induced blood clots, recommends wearing compression boots to constrict the diameter of the veins in the legs and ankles and increase the force of blood flow.

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Walk daily or engage in other regular exercise to increase blood flow to your feet, reduce your weight and prevent fluid retention. The ADA states that exercise stimulates blood flow to the feet and can help reduce the symptoms of intermittent claudication, a condition caused by poor circulation that causes pain when walking uphill or on hard surfaces.

Stop smoking to improve circulation in your feet. According to the University of Southern California, nicotine constricts blood vessels and interferes with blood flow. If you cannot stop smoking on your own, speak with your doctor about medication or other smoking-cessation aids.

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Elevate your legs and feet if your poor circulation is due to fluid retention or swelling in your legs or feet. Elevating your feet will encourage fluids to drain and improve blood flow. Change positions frequently when sitting for prolonged periods to reduce pressure on your legs and increase blood flow to your feet.

Keep your feet warm by wearing socks to bed during colder months and covering your legs and feet with a blanket when watching television or reading. Increasing the temperature of your feet will improve circulation.

Ask your doctor if any medications you are currently taking are interfering with your circulation. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as some cold, allergy and sinus drugs, constrict blood vessels and impair circulation, according to the Mayo Clinic.