It's time to tackle another BOOMer question in our Ask Coach Lance series! This month we are addressing the topic of swelling of the legs and feet, in relation to exertion during training. What are some common causes and should our BOOMer be concerned?
Our BOOMer asks:
I feel like my legs and feet are swelling as I get older. For example, at the end of my workouts, the top of my feet are repping the Under Armour logo and the seams to my yoga pants. Yesterday my legs were showing the seams of my jeans after wearing them all day, and today I had a lovely polka dot pattern on my feet, ankles, and legs from my stylish socks. Don't get me wrong, I love fun patterns and Under Armour, but I don't love wearing it on my skin.
On a side note, I've always been somewhat thin, but I use to be "soft" thin. I am fitter now than I have ever been in my adult life, however I have more swelling than I've ever had. Is this normal? Am I dehydrated? Am I dying? Does this happen to everyone and I just need to suck it up? ;)
Take it away Coach Lance!
Thank you for submitting this question. I will start by providing the usual caveats that I am not a doctor and if these symptoms are extreme, painful, or substantially progressing I definitely recommend that you consult a physician to rule out more serious potential causes.
With that out of the way, based on symptoms and timing described I suspect you are dealing with exercise-induced edema. Although the exact cause is not known it has been suggested that it could be because of the way blood vessels react when you are working out. Because blood flow to the heart and lungs increases when you exercise, a reduced blood supply to the hands and legs might result in edema. It’s also likely that you are not imagining that it seem to have been progressing with age as that is often the case.
Now for the more useful information – what can be done to prevent and to treat it?
In terms of prevention reducing sodium consumption to around 1500mg per day or less, avoiding wearing clothing with pinch points (like a tight waistband) when working out, and wearing compression clothing like compression tights and compression socks can help to improve circulation resulting in reduction of the symptoms.
Treatment options include elevating legs above your heart which will allow the fluid to passively drain, icing the impacted area to reduce swelling, and intermittent compression therapy (think Normatec) which has been proven to be effective in dissipating edema.
Hopefully that helps and if there are any follow up questions please drop them in the comments and I will do my best to address them.
I hope this information helps you my dear BOOMER (and anyone else who may be experiencing similar symptoms). As always, make sure to consult with your physician to rule out anything major and once that has been done you can take the steps Coach Lance suggested to ease your puffy problems. We all want to get "swole" in the gym but not that way!
Until next time! See you in the Boom Room!
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