Water retention and swollen feet can make your pregnancy more uncomfortable. When you are pregnant, the pressure from the growing uterus and the extra fluid accumulated in the body due to the hormonal changes can result in a swelling in the ankles and feet. The swelling often gets worse as the due date nears. Luckily, there are a few exercises and yoga poses that are helpful in managing these problems. Here are some simple exercises and yoga postures that will help you get rid of your pregnancy swelling and also make you feel fresh and more energetic.
Simply bend and stretch your one foot up and down about 30 times. Then, rotate the foot in a circle 8 times in one direction and 8 times in the other direction. Repeat with the other foot. This is a very simple and easy exercise that you can do sitting or standing. It improves blood circulation and reduces swelling in the feet. It also prevents cramps in the calf muscles.
Swelling in the feet and ankles happens due to the extra fluid trapped inside the tissues on its way back to the heart. Walking can relieve this fluid retention in two ways. First, the continuous contracting and pumping of the leg muscles makes the extra fluid get squeezed out from your tissues. Second, the elevated heart rate increases the blood circulation in your legs, which helps flush the fluid away. However, walking too much may make your swelling worse; so stick to about 20 to 30 minutes of walk a day.
According to a study by the “American Family Physician”, deep-water exercise like water walking can help in reducing pregnancy edema. Working out your muscles in the pool helps to reduce fluid retention as the water gently presses against the soft tissues and forces out additional fluid. Most pregnant women also find relief from the tired and sore limbs in the semi-weightless environment that water provides.
Your pregnancy swelling can get worse if you are lying or sitting in one position for too long. This is common in women working at a desk and those on bed rest or light duty. Ankle pump is a great exercise for these women to get rid of the swelling. To practice: flex your feet at the ankles to keep your muscles pumping. Point your toes away from you and then towards you as much as you can. This will improve the flow of blood through the leg veins and reduce the swelling. Do ankle pumps for about 5 minutes every one or two hours.
Conquering fluid retention through yoga exercise is a well conceived idea since the ancient times. Prenatal yoga works by improving circulation and reducing water retention. It can also strengthen the leg muscles making them more effective at pushing the fluids out of your extremities. Here are some of the most effective and safe yoga poses for pregnant women to help them manage swelling and water retention.
- Lower yourself to get into a kneeling position with your toes curled under. Place your yoga blocks under your knees and sit on your heels. You may also use folded blankets in place of yoga blocks if you don’t have them. You only need to create a height of about 15 cm with the blankets. Then, rest your palms facing down on the thighs and breathe deeply. Stay in the position for 10-20 breaths. Come out of the stretch by leaning forward slowly.
- Assume a simple table top position by getting on your fours. Extend the leg behind you while pressing the ball of the foot against the ground. Gently press the heel towards the back wall for a stretch through the ankle, foot and calf. Then, lift the foot away from the floor, on the plane same as that of your hips and shoulders. Take a few turns in clockwise and anticlockwise directions while keeping an eye on the stability in your lower back. Repeat on the other side. This yoga pose keeps the feet and ankles in their full range of motion, which helps reduce the swelling.
More tips to prevent the annoying swollen feet and ankles:
- Try to stay cool especially if the weather is humid or hot
- Avoid standing for long periods
- Stretch frequently when sitting for long periods
- Avoid crossing your legs
- Prop up your feet while sitting
Swollen ankles and feet is a normal, yet frustrating, experience for most pregnant women. These exercises and yoga postures have an ability to counter water retention in different parts of the body including your legs, ankles and feet. Besides these exercises, you should also make appropriate changes to your diet like reducing your salt intake as a preventive measure in the management of pregnancy swelling.
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Though these tips and foods are safe and highly effective in reducing edema in pregnancy, it is important to check with your doctor whether you need any tests to rule out the dangerous causes of fluid retention like pre-eclampsia that need any specific treatment.