Winter left you stiff? 4 ways to help your legs and boost circulation

Get set for summer and give your legs a health boost they deserve!

Not only does winter often mean less movement (who wants to head out in the dark and cold to exercise?!), but recently, it’s been even harder to get a workout in, thanks to pandemic-related lockdowns and gym closures. Because of this, our legs might be suffering. Lack of movement in the lower body can lead to poor circulation, tight muscles and soreness. And that’s not what we want as the seasons change and we’re swapping trousers for skirts, shorts and swimming attire! So what can we do to help ease our legs to great health? We’ve rounded up four ways that involve movement, to get circulation flowing and bring our lower body back to great health.
However, as well as these four tips, you could also try wearing compression socks - these essentially make the muscles in our legs relax and contract which stimulates blood flow -as well as avoiding certain seated positions such as sitting with legs crossed or sitting with crossed ankles. There are also a few things that can hinder healthy circulation in the legs. This includes smoking, with one study even finding that cigarette smoke exposure increases the risk of blood clots in arteries. As well as this, cutting down on alcohol can also help as alcohol puts pressure on the heart - not ideal when you want blood to be flowing smoothly around the body. Along with these simple changes, give these four movement-based tips a try...
  1. Walk often

Walking is such a natural movement for the human body. In fact, 10000 steps is the number we’ve been recommended to take every day. Walking doesn’t just help to keep us fit, it also benefits health. Walking, whether slowly or at a brisk pace, encourages blood flow around the legs and body. In fact, a study by the Harvard School of Public Health actually found that just 30 minutes of walking each day cut a person’s stroke risk by at least 20%.

If 10k steps a day sounds daunting, try splitting it up into blocks. You could take a 30 minute walk in the morning, another at lunch and then another in the evening. Before you know it, you’ll have clocked up an impressive step count!
  1. Foam roll

Foam rolling is great for loosening tight muscles, increasing a muscle’s range of movement and also, for encouraging healthy circulation. Applying pressure onto a foam roller helps release any ‘knots’ in muscles and tendons, which allows for oxygen to move more freely, helping with circulation. Try this move on your legs. This primarily targets the quads.

Place your foam roller on the floor and lay over it, ensuring the foam roller is above your knees. Very slowly, roll up so the foam roller reaches your hips. Go slow and feel for any tight points, where you might want to pause and rock slightly to relieve tension. If you feel the pressure isn’t enough, roll on one leg, placing your other leg out to the side. Aim for 30 seconds on each side.

  1. Yoga

Yoga has been praised for its multitude of benefits, from stress relief, through to helping posture. But all this stretching can work wonders as it improves the flow of oxygen in our body, helping it to reach more cells.
Certain movements in yoga such as those that involve twists and rotations, also help this oxygenated blood to move more freely. Plus, as you practice yoga, you’ll reap the relaxing benefits it promotes, which are ideal in the frantic, busy world we live in today.

  1. Set an alarm to stand

Sitting is the devil when it comes to good circulation in the legs. When you are sitting you could try placing your feet on a seat or stool opposite and stretching out your legs so that blood doesn’t gravitate down to the bottom of your legs. However, setting an alarm to stand up every hour is really beneficial for blood circulation. Just move around for five minutes; go and make a drink or even try taking a walk-and-talk phone call. Any movement you do here will just help to keep the blood moving in your lower body.

/related post

Build stronger legs to improve running economy

Want to improve your running? The secret is strength: try these simple exercises with Technogym work...