How to Prevent Feet Swelling while Sitting at Desk for Too Long

7 min read
Updated: 25.06.2022

Our daily routine can be highly repetitive. And it can be quite challenging for modern-day folks who spend too much time sitting down and doing their stuff. 

One of the most common issues that can arise from sitting at a desk all day is swollen feet. So, how can you prevent feet swelling, called Edema (Fluid Buildup), while sitting at a desk for too long?

There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of swollen feet, including:

  • Move Around: Don’t just sit and stay in the same position for too long. Regardless of the reason for extended sitting sessions (like completing an assignment on time or a long flight, maybe), get up and move around at least twice an hour to keep your blood flowing,
  • Do Regular Stretching: Not just stand up and walk. Add some extra exercises and yoga moves to your little breaks, such as knee lifts, foot pumps, and ankle circles. You can even use a pilates ball or an elastic resistance band,
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water (not coffee or sugary junks) throughout the day to prevent dehydration, significantly contributing to swelling,
  • Watch Your Salt Intake: Too much salt can cause your body to retain water, leading to swelling. Limit your salt intake and eat as healthily as possible to reduce your risk of Edema,
  • Elevate Your Feet: Whenever possible, ascend your feet while sitting. And raise your legs above your heart level when taking a break. It helps to promote blood flow and reduce the risk of swelling,
  • Avoid Crossing Your Legs While Sitting: Any unnatural leg position can restrict blood flow and cause swelling,
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: Wearing tight or constrictive shoes can cause swelling. Choose comfortable and preferable orthopedic shoes that offer plenty of support to reduce the risk of Edema,
  • Design Your Sitting Area Ergonomically: Well designed work setup help to bypass fluid buildup in your legs,
  • Have an Adjustable Standing Desk: You can easily change your position without even taking breaks, 
  • Wear Compression Socks: In severe circumstances, compression socks designed to apply pressure on your feet and lower legs can be beneficial,
  • Applying a Cold Compress to Your Feet: You can get sudden relief and reduce the inflammation and pain associated with swollen feet,
  • Use Portable Massage Tools: You can keep a massage gun or massage chair pad to boost the blood flow,
  • Taking Over the Counter Medication – Diuretics: Although it’s not our first advice, you can use medications like Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation if you have an underlying problem.

So, exclusively follow the above prevention methods and keep your feet safe. You will need them to see the beauty around you more closely. 

What is Edema

Edema (also called Dropsy) refers to the swelling of tissues due to the accumulation of excess fluid. This collection can happen when the small blood vessels in your body leak fluids into the surrounding tissues.

Healthy vs Swollen Foot

Edema can occur in any part of your body, but it is most common in the feet, ankles, and legs cause these parts are the closest to the surface and farthest from your heart in your body’s natural posture.

Edema can be caused by a variety of things, including:

  • Sitting or standing for long periods,
  • Pregnancy and Menstruation,
  • Certain medical conditions that cause arthritis, like heart failure, liver or kidney disease,
  • Any sort of Joint injuries,
  • Side effects of certain medications,
  • Insects bite such as mosquitoes,
  • Excessive sun exposure.

While sitting down may not seem like an arduous task, Edema can take a toll on your body – particularly your feet.

The thing is, when it turns into a regular issue, it can be extremely uncomfortable and even painful, making it difficult to concentrate on work or enjoy your free time. 

Facts and Stats of Swollen Feet

  • Swelling in the feet is a common problem, currently affecting up to 10% of the US population,
  • Edema is more common in women than men, and it likes warm climates,
  • Older people are more susceptible to Edema due to factors such as reduced circulation and kidney problems.
  • People with diabetes are also at a higher risk for Edema because of the increased risk of peripheral nerve damage.
  • According to a recent study, Peripheral Edema is associated with age, gender, race, wealth, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and low activity levels, and 20% of the older Americans experienced a certain level of swollen feet problems between 2000 and 2016,
  • Edema can lead to severe complications such as ulcers, infection, and cellulitis if left untreated,
  • Several home remedies can help reduce Edema’s swelling, such as elevation and ice packs.

Simple Hacks and Exercises to Treat Swollen Feet at Home or Office

If you are someone who works long hours sitting at a desk, then you might be familiar with the feeling of your feet swelling up by the end of the day. 

Inactive hours are especially a fact for office workers and even worse for work-from-home people who are glued to their desk chairs for most of the day. 

But also, it can be the case if you travel a lot (driving or just traveling requires a long period of sitting).

Long Flight and Feet Swelling

The good news is that there are some simple hacks and exercises that you can do to prevent your feet from swelling while sitting at a desk for too long. 

  • One of the best tricks to reduce the risk of fluid buildup is to use a timer and alarm to remind yourself to get up and do a 5-minute stretching every half an hour, 
  • Similarly, keeping a colorful bottle nearby can remind you to drink (remember, just plain water),
  • If your feet start swelling, lie down, try to put them above your heart level, and rest for 15 min,
  • Still experience swollen feet? Then, apply an icy cold compress for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If your Edema seems more persistent, try to get proper rest (at least a couple of hours of sleep) in a well-ventilated bedroom,
  • After a rest, if you still see your feet swollen, please get advice from your doctor.

Do Compression Socks Help Edema

Yes, compression socks help Edema by providing gentle pressure on your feet and ankles, which helps to reduce swelling. 

They also improve blood circulation, which prevents the buildup of fluid in your feet and ankles.

One of the most concerning long-term effects of swollen feet is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), which is basically a blood clot. Compression stockings are flexible enough to give you gentle massage-like rubs. 

DVT Causes Blood Clot

Initially, they are tight around your ankle but get more relaxed even in your little movements and help better blood flow.

What is the Best Diuretic for Edema

If you are prone to Edema or fluid retention, you may be wondering what the best diuretic for Edema is. 

A diuretic helps promote urination, which is your most primitive but effective defense mechanism to help reduce fluid buildup in the body. 

While several different diuretics are easily accessible, some people may prefer natural diuretics over medication. 

Natural Diuretics

Some of the best natural diuretic liquids for Edema include water, green tea, dandelion tea, and cranberry juice

Additionally, raw foods such as cranberries, dandelion root, green tea, and parsley are also thought to be effective diuretics.

Summary 

Preventing foot swelling while sitting at a desk for too long is crucial for maintaining comfort and avoiding heavy complications. 

Simple things like more physical activity, more movement, exercise, and drinking more water can help keep the feet healthy and free from swelling. 

It doesn’t take long to apply these preventions, and they can make a big difference in how your feet feel at the end of the day. 

If your genetics or lifestyle makes you open to Edema or fluid retention, you may also want to consider natural diuretics as a way to reduce swelling.

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