Painless swelling of the feet or ankles is common and can happen for a variety of reasons. Causes of swollen feet can include:
- staying on your feet too long
- ill-fitting shoes
- lifestyle factors
- certain medical conditions
When fluid accumulates in tissues, it’s called edema. While edema usually resolves on its own, there are some home remedies that may reduce the swelling more quickly and increase your own comfort. Here are 10 to try.
1. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day
Though it might seem counterintuitive, getting enough fluids actually helps reduce swelling. When your body isn’t hydrated enough, it holds onto the fluid it does have. This contributes to swelling.
2. Buy compression socks
They come in a variety of weights and compressions, so it might be best to start off with lighter-weight socks and then find the kind that provides the most relief.
3. Soak in a cool Epsom salt bath for about 15 to 20 minutes
Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) may not only help with muscle pain. It may also reduce swelling and inflammation. The theory is that Epsom salt draws out toxins and increases relaxation.
Just make sure to get Epsom salts marked with the USP designation. This means that it meets standards set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is safe to use.
4. Elevate your feet, preferably above your heart
Prop your feet on cushions, pillows, or even things like phone books, when you sleep. If you’re looking to reduce foot swelling while pregnant, try elevating your feet several times a day as well. Aim for about 20 minutes at a time, even on an ottoman or a chair.
Try to avoid standing for long periods of time and stay off your feet when you can.
5. Get moving!
If you sit or stand in one area for a long period of time (like at work), this can lead to swollen feet. Try to move a little bit each hour, even if it’s a walk to the break room, a walk around the block at lunch, flexing your knees and ankles, or a lap around the office.
6. Magnesium supplements can be helpful for some people
- dark chocolate
Taking 200 to 400 milligrams of magnesium daily might help with the swelling. But before you take any kind of supplement, ask your doctor. Magnesium supplements aren’t right for everyone, especially if you have a kidney or heart condition.
7. Make some dietary changes
Reducing your sodium intake can help decrease swelling in your body, including in your feet. Opt for low-sodium versions of your favorite foods, and try to refrain from adding salt to meals.
8. Lose weight if you’re overweight
Being overweight can cause reduced blood circulation, leading to swelling of the lower extremities. It can also lead to extra strain on the feet, causing pain when walking. This can result in being more sedentary — which can also cause fluid buildup in the feet.
Losing weight can help ease the strain on your feet and possibly reduce foot swelling as well. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to lose weight and healthy ways to go about doing so.
9. Massage your feet
Massage can be great for swollen feet and can also promote relaxation. Massage (or have someone massage them for you!) your feet toward your heart with firm strokes and some pressure. This can help move the fluid out of the area and reduce swelling.
10. Increase your intake of potassium-rich foods
- sweet potatoes
- white beans
Try drinking orange juice or low-fat milk instead of soda, too. If you have any medical conditions, especially kidney issues, talk with your doctor before adding lots of potassium to your diet.
When to see your doctor
Each person is different. Depending on what’s causing the swelling, some of these remedies might not be effective all of the time for everyone. If one doesn’t work, don’t hesitate to try another or use one in conjunction with another.
If none of these home remedies alleviate your swollen feet or you notice other symptoms that accompany your swollen feet, call your doctor. These symptoms could indicate an underlying health condition that needs to be treated. Your doctor may prescribe diuretics if they think that medical steps are necessary to reduce the fluid retention.
If you’re pregnant, ask your obstetrician before taking any supplements or before increasing your activity level. If you have any medical conditions or take any medications, check with your doctor before adding a supplement. Even natural supplements and vitamins can interfere with medications, so it’s always good to touch base first.