Help with heavy legs and venous congestion

Women often suffer from heavy, aching legs and swollen feet in the summer heat. Complementary medicine can help you avoid venous congestion in the legs and put a spring in your step again.

Why is it that in the summer your legs sometimes feel so heavy and tired to the point where they hurt? These aches and pains are caused by high temperatures, which dilate the veins in our limbs. This improves circulation in the skin, which in turn optimises the transfer of heat. This automatic regulation also has its disadvantages, however: The veins have special valves that prevent blood from flowing to the feet. When the veins are dilated, these venous valves sometimes do not work properly and cause the blood to accumulate in the legs. This is the reason for the paralysing sensation.

Heavy legs are exacerbated in the summer because the body loses a lot of fluid in high temperatures. The blood becomes more viscous and the flow of blood slows. This can also cause blood congestion in the legs and lead to more permanent complaints. In addition, heat promotes the flow of blood back to the heart.

Complementary medicine to counteract heavy legs

Contrast showers
Simple forms of hydrotherapy derived from Kneipp therapy get your circulation pumping. Cold water increases tension in the veins and imparts a feeling of freshness that lasts the whole day through. Kneipp activities regulate blood flow and heavy legs become lighter. Application: Spray water on your legs from the feet upwards, along both the outside and the inside of your legs.
Raise your legs
Put your feet up every now and then and massage your legs from your feet towards your heart; this will relieve some of the pressure on your veins.
Herbal remedies

Herbal medicine (phytotherapy) offers many useful natural remedies. The following are especially recommended for vein problems:

  • Red vine leaves
  • Horse chestnut
  • Butcher's broom

You can find recognised naturopaths for traditional European naturopathy in our therapist directory search. They will be happy to advise you about the plant remedies listed, as well as about any underlying problems.

Drink plenty of water
Make sure your body gets the fluids it needs. Adults should drink an average of 2–3 litres of fluids a day, preferably water or refreshing herbal teas. This promotes circulation and prevents heavy legs.
Vein walking
Movement is key to alleviating or preventing vein disorders. Nordic walking, cycling and swimming – in water no warmer than 28oC – are especially recommended. So-called vein walking.is also effective. Walking at a brisk pace for 20–30 minutes a day stimulates the metabolism and thus also strengthens the veins.
Flat shoes
Avoid shoes with a heel higher than four centimetres. Also make sure your shoes aren't too narrow. The same applies to stockings and trousers; a looser fit promotes the return flow of blood. Flat shoes are the only way ensure the feet roll optimally when walking from the heel to the tip of the toes. This means the calf muscles are sufficiently active to prevent blood congestion. Also, try to walk barefoot more often. This promotes the flow of blood.
Serious vein problems: wear support stockings

Support stockings can alleviate prolonged heaviness in the legs. For precise instructions, consult a specialist such as your general practitioner, a Swiss Red Cross-certified medical masseur or a naturopath.

Follow these recommendations and tips to get your legs moving again and enjoy a more active summer.


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