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Dealing with Water Retention in Your Legs and Ankles

Updated on October 1, 2008

Easing water retention in the legs and ankles


Water retention, also called edema, continues to be an irritating and uncomfortable condition in all ages and both genders throughout the world. Excess fluids can be retained anywhere in the body, but the most common areas are the legs and ankles. First, consult your doctor to ensure this retention isn't caused by any severe medical conditions as edema is one of the symptoms of thyroid disease amongst other serious problems. After serious problems are ruled out, there are a few things you can do at home to control water retention in your legs and ankles.

Exercise regularly - Without enough exercise the body does not have ample circulation to keep fluids regulated in the tissues. The extremities are especially at risk for edema when there is little exercise because these areas have naturally poor circulation. Exercising 30 minutes a day, three times a week can significantly reduce edema-related swelling in your feet, legs and ankles.

Change position regularly - Standing or sitting for long periods of time can significantly increase the fluid level in your legs. This contributes to edema especially in people who are mainly sedentary by requirement such as office workers, cashiers and truck drivers. If possible, walk around for two or three minutes every hour or so to help keep the circulation going. If it's not possible to actually get up and move, some stationary exercises such as flexing various muscle groups or moving up and down on your toes may help.

Wear comfortable shoes - Shoes that rub against your feet or cause soreness for any reason may be causing more problems than just making your feet hurt. If your shoes don't fit properly, they may be restricting circulation and increasing the risk of excess fluids pooling in the legs.

Invest in some support socks - These socks are often marketed as being for diabetics because of the severe edema diabetic people are prone to. These socks will help improve the circulation and reduce swelling in the legs where conventional socks may even exacerbate the problem by restricting circulation as the cuff is drawn tighter around swelling legs.

Elevate your feet - Regularly elevating your feet above the level of your heart will encourage fluids to drain out of your legs and help get the circulation going. Ideally, you should lay flat on your back with your legs against a wall at least once a day for a 5-10 minute period, but you may also get additional relief from elevating the feet on cushions or a chair whenever you're sitting at home. For additional elevation, you can use leg wedges that will keep your feet and legs elevated while you sleep.

Make sure that you stick to a healthy, low-sodium diet that's high in fiber and get plenty to drink to further combat water retention - legs and ankles are the most commonly afflicted area and often the last to show signs of improvement when measures are being taken to get rid of excess fluids, but these measures can help speed up the draining process and help raise your comfort level.


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    • profile image

      Debbie bertoch 2 years ago

      Add Yor Comment...what do when water drains and dun down your legs and make your deers burns an make ixhes

    • profile image

      Beaver 6 years ago

      I have water coming out of my leg

    • profile image

      barbara 6 years ago


    • profile image

      Ishbel Lane 7 years ago

      This ERGOup Elevating Leg Support for Office Chairs can be used to elevate your legs and increase circulation during those long days at work.

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      Momo 8 years ago

      I have a problem with water retention in my legs, thighs, ankles and near the stomache. i eat a healthy diet but i seem to get bigger and more swollen. any advice?

    • profile image

      willie jackson 8 years ago

      Need help

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      jackie 8 years ago

      i have fluid in my legs and ankles and my protein is low i go to the bathroom all the time what can i do