9 Causes Of Poor Circulation In Legs & 12 Ways To Treat Them.

prevent varicose veins with leg elevation

Have you noticed your hands or feet are cold or tingling?  If so, this is a common sign of poor blood circulation.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of poor blood circulation can help you address the issue before further health complications develop, such as varicose and spider veins, skin discoloration, and leg ulcers, to name a few.

What Are the Symptoms of Poor Leg Circulation?

Poor leg circulation can present a range of symptoms, from mild to  risk factors that should be take seriously. On the mild end of the spectrum, you may be experiencing cold feet or swelling. In more severe cases, chest pain or pain in the legs

Swelling (edema)

  • Swelling from fluid retention occurs when blood is not circulating correctly and begins to pool in the veins of the legs.

Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)

  • If your body is struggling to move blood efficiently, your heart may be working harder to transport the blood, resulting in a faster than normal heartbeat.

Chest pain (angina)

  • Chest pain is the most common symptom of poor circulation to the heart. While discomfort can range from mild to severe, you should consult with a medical professional to discuss your symptoms.


  • Should you continue to feel tired, despite getting adequate rest, there may be an underlying health condition causing your fatigue.

Shortness of breath

  • When your heart cannot pump blood efficiently, blood can flow back through the veins from the heart to the lungs, leading to shortness of breath.

Numbness, tingling, or pain

  • Poor circulation will often cause numbing or tingling in the feet, hands, or legs.

Coughing or wheezing

  • Fluid build-up in the lungs can cause chronic coughing or wheezing. Speak with a doctor right away if you are experiencing ongoing coughing or wheezing.

What Causes Poor Circulation?

Several conditions or factors can cause poor blood circulation, such as:

  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clots)
  • Varicose Veins
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Raynaud’s Disease

Are There Serious Complications Related to Poor Circulation?

Allowing poor circulation to progress without treatment or lifestyle changes, may lead to serious health conditions, such as:

  • Heart Attack
  • Heart Disease
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Aneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Congestive Heart Failure

Are There Lifestyle Changes I Can Make To Improve My Blood Circulation?


leg workout for poor blood circulation

Exercise is likely the most efficient way to improve your circulation, and there are many ways to incorporate it into your daily routine

  • Cardio
  • Walking
  • Squats
  • Yoga

Massage Therapy

leg massage to improve blood circulation

An excellent way to de-stress, massage therapy is a great way to improve your circulation. 

Massage therapists, through the manipulation of the muscle and tissue, are sending blood flow through congested areas in your body. Each time they release the pressure they have applied, blood flows into those new areas. 

Quit Smoking

Smoking contributes to dangerous circulatory diseases that kill. 

If you are having trouble quitting, speak with a healthcare professional to get the help you need to stop once and for all!

Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure

Healthy blood pressure levels are critical to your overall health. Most of us are familiar with the risks associated with high blood pressure, however low blood pressure can also lead to health problems, including poor circulation.

Speak with your doctor if you suspect you have low blood pressure.

Compression Therapy

woman with poor blood circulation wearing compression socks

The use of compression stockings or socks is a great way to improve blood flow. Compression garments apply pressure to the lower legs, which helps to promote blood flow back up to the heart and prevent it from pooling in the lower limbs. 

Also, compression socks will reduce swelling and improve symptoms of chronic venous disorders.

Indulge in a Warm Bath

  • Not only will a warm bath reduce your stress levels, but it will also help your arteries and veins expand, resulting in increased blood flow.

Elevate Your Legs

prevent varicose veins with leg elevation

A quick and easy way to quickly increase circulation in the legs is to elevate the legs above your heart. 

Elevating your legs is particularly essential if you sit for extended periods. Long periods of time sitting can cause blood to pool in the lower limbs.

Decrease Your Alcohol Intake

Too much alcohol can take a toll on our health, particularly our vascular system.

By decreasing your alcohol intake, you will promote circulation, as well as several benefits to your health.

Stay Hydrated

  • You must incorporate drinking water throughout your day. When our bodies are dehydrated, it is harder for our blood to circulate. Increasing hydration is easy and helps promote circulation! 

Dry Brushing

Using a dry brush first thing in the morning will not only get rid of dead skin cells, but it will also boost your circulation and increase new cell growth.

Reduce Stress Levels

High levels of stress can raise blood pressure and cause poor blood circulation.  

While decreasing stress is often easier said than done, try to incorporate lifestyle changes that can help promote relaxation, movement and connecting with loved ones.

Foods That Can Help Boost Circulation

Foods Rich in Omega 3s 

Omega 3s are known to promote blood circulation and increase circulation. 

Fatty Fish 

Salmon helps to improve blood circulation

Salmon and mackerel provide a tremendous dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fats promote the release of nitric acid, which works to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow.  They also reduce the risk of blood clots by preventing blood platelets from clumping.

Enjoy Herbal Teas

treat poor blood circulation with tea

Warm teas can help to dilate veins and blood vessels. The warmth works to widen the veins, increasing blood circulation throughout your body.  Green tea is an excellent tea that is also rich in antioxidants.  


Cayenne pepper contains a phytochemical called capsaicin, which also creates the spice flavor.

Capsaicin increases blood flow by lowering blood pressure and causing the release of nitric oxide and vasodilators, which work to expand blood vessels.

By increasing vasodilators, blood low can move through the veins and arteries more quickly due to the small muscles in the vein walls relaxing.


tumeric helps with blood circulation problems

Turmeric is considered a powerhouse when it comes to its health benefits.

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which helps increase the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide lowers inflammation, promotes circulation, and lowers oxidative stress.

Leafy Greens

  • Dark, leafy green, such as kale, spinach, Chinese cabbage, or collard greens are very high in nitrates. Foods rich in nitrates promote circulation as they work as vasodilators when our body converts it to nitric oxide.

Onions & Garlic

onions improve blood circulation in legs

Onions contain flavonoid antioxidants, which are healthy for the heart. Specifically, they help the veins and arteries dilate to accommodate an increase in blood flow.

Additionally, onions have anti-inflammatory properties. Keep inflammation at bay helps to increase blood flow and protect the health of your heart.

Garlic is chock-full of sulfur compounds, specifically allicin. Allicin promotes blood flow to the body’s tissues and relaxes blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure.


Cinnamon is considered to be a warming spice that aids in blood flow and blood vessel dilation. 

Research has also shown that cinnamon can reduce blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels, leading to increased circulation and a healthier heart. 

Citrus Fruit

citrus fruit improves blood circulation

Lemons, oranges, and grapefruits are full of antioxidants, particularly flavonoids. 

Similar to onions, when consuming a diet high in flavonoids, nitric oxide production increases, inflammation, and blood pressure is lowered, and circulation increases.


  • Beets are incredibly high in nitrates, which is converted into nitric oxide in the body. Like many of the foods we have listed above, nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and increases blood circulation.


Walnuts contain several potent compounds: l-arginine, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), and vitamin E. These compounds all work to boost the body’s production of nitric oxide.

Adding walnuts into a healthy diet has shown people to have reduced blood pressure, decreased inflammation levels, and improved blood vessel health.


It is believed that tomatoes can reduce angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), an enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict.

Tomatoes can help increase blood circulation by dilating blood vessels, reducing inflammation, and working against platelet clumping.


Berries are another powerhouse of health benefits, as they are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research shows that eating berries may lower blood pressure and inflammation levels, lower your heart rate, prevent platelet clumping, all while boosting circulation.


  • Pomegranates are high in polyphenol antioxidants and nitrates, which are both vasodilators.  Vasodilators aid in improved blood flow and oxygenation of muscle tissue.


  • Ginger has been a mainstay in ancient and traditional medicine. It has also been shown to boost blood flow and lower blood pressure, as well as circulation problems.


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