To get rid of swollen ankles fast, you can take a contrast bath, drink a diuretic tea, drink fluids throughout the day and elevate your legs. These methods help to boost blood and lymphatic circulation, and promote venous return, as well as promote fluid elimination and relieve swelling in the feet and ankles.
Swollen ankles can occur due to normal aging, pregnancy or prolonged standing. However, they can also be a sign of a health condition, like venous insufficiency, kidney failure, heart failure or a thrombosis. Read mor about the most common causes of swollen feet and ankles to learn about the more specific treatments they may need.
Home remedies for swollen ankles can help to relieve puffiness, and can be used as a complement to prescribed medical treatment. However, if you notice swelling on just one side or if it occurs with symptoms like shortness of breath, sudden swelling, skin redness and chest pain, you should proceed to the emergency room immediately.
Ways to get rid of swollen feet
Some methods that can be used to relieve swollen feet and ankles include:
1. Contrast bath
A contrast bath involves using hot water to promote vasodilation, followed by cold water, to promote vasoconstriction. This technique is used in physiotherapy and is very efficient in draining accumulated fluid in the feet and ankles.
To do a contrast bath at home, you will need two large bowls that will hold enough water to cover the feet and ankles. Pour hot water in one bowl and cold water in the second.
Before soaking your feet in the hot water, check the water temperature with your elbow, to ensure it will not burn your skin. To guarantee the cold water is cold enough, you can add a few ice cubes.
First, soak your feet in the hot water for a maximum of 5 minutes. Then soak your feet in the cold water for a maximum of 2 minutes. You can repeat this process up to 3 times, being sure to finish with the cold water.
This home treatment should be avoided if you have any skin wounds on the feet, i you have very sensitive or numb feet, or if you have varicose veins along your ankles.
2. Elevating your legs
Elevate your legs so that your feet are above heart level for at least 20 minutes per day. This helps to stimulate blood circulation and improve lymphatic circulation. This helps with venous return and relaxation, which relieves ankle swelling quickly.
An easy way to elevate your feet is to lie down in bed and rest your legs on the headboard. It is important to lie on your back and to place pillows below the legs to support your knees.
3. Drinking more fluids
Consuming more liquids throughout the day can help with swelling, as a hydrated body will retain less fluids.
Drinking water also stimulates urine production, which promotes the elimination of water and toxins from the body.
It is important to drink 2 to 3 liters of fluids per day, like water and tea. However, the ideal amount of fluids per day may vary from person to person.
4. Foot exercises
Exercising and stretching the feet and ankles promotes blood and lymphatic circulation, which can reduce and prevent swollen ankles.
When possible, bend and extend your feet at the ankles, up and down, at least 30 times. You can also roll your ankles 8 times clockwise and 8 times counter-clockwise to relieve swelling.
Massaging helps to decrease leg swelling as it stimulates blood circulation and improves movement to eliminate fluid in the legs, ankles and feet. It is also an effective relaxation technique.
Massages should be done with light movements in direction toward the heart. You can massage swollen extremities with a moisturizing cream or sweet almond oil, for example, to make this massage even more relaxing. You should dedicate about 1 minute to massaging each foot.
Lymphatic drainage massage can be done by a professional or at home.
6. Foot soaks with Epsom salts
Epsom salts are rich in magnesium sulfate which is easily absorbed into the skin. This substance promotes blood flow to relieve swollen ankles and feet.
A foot soak or bath with Epsom salts is easy to prepare and can relieve swelling quickly at the end of the day. It is also a great relaxation technique.
For a foot soak, you should add half a cup of Epsom salts to a bowl with 2 or 3 liters of warm water (or enough water to cover your feet and ankles).
Be sure to dilute the salts by stirring the water with your hands. Soak your feet for about 15 minutes, then rinse your feet and dry with a clean towel. You can repeat this twice per week,
Soaking your feet with Epsom salts can leave your feet dry, which is why you should apply a moisturizer after using to prevent irritation and skin cracks.
This foot soak is not recommended for pregnant women, diabetics, or patients with cardiac or kidney problems, unless approved by a doctor.
7. Moving the legs
Moving your legs can help to relieve swollen ankles and feet by improving blood and lymphatic circulation.
You can engage in light physical activity, like walks or water aerobics for at least 30 minutes, 3 times per week.
If you work in a sitting position or lead a sedentary lifestyle, you should aim to walk every hour and engage in longer walk at lunch time. If you work in a prolonged standing position, you should bend and stretch your knees, calves and ankles every hour to decrease swelling in the feet and ankles.
8. Decreasing salt intake
Ingesting large amounts of salt can lead to swollen ankles and feet due to its sodium content. Sodium promotes water retention, meaning that high sodium levels in the blood can increase fluid retention and swelling.
A great option to prevent the accumulation of fluid in the feet and ankles is to use low-sodium salt or aromatic herbs to season your meals.
9. Drinking a diuretic tea
Diuretic teas, like green tea, parsley tea or horsetail tea, contain natural diuretic properties and substances, like flavonoids and minerals (like potassium and caffeine). These also tend to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which improve poor circulation and promote elimination of fluid that is contributing to feet and ankle swelling.
To obtain optimal effect, choose one diuretic tea to drink throughout the day. Read about natural diuretics you can use and prepare at home.
10. Consuming foods that boost circulation
Some foods that contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (like omega-3 foods, citric fruit or cayenne pepper) can help to boost blood circulation. These foods address poor circulation and can relieve or prevent swelling in the ankles and feet.
The amount of nutrients each person needs can vary depending on the person’s health history and current status. People with a history of heart or kidney problems, for example, should avoid foods that are rich in potassium and magnesium, like bananas, raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds, Brazilian nuts or flaxseeds.
When to see a doctor
It is important to consult a doctor or proceed to the closest emergency room if you notice swelling in just one ankle, or if you have other symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing or sputum
- Chest pain
- Pain beneath the ribs
- Persistent pain or swelling in the feet or ankles
- Sudden swelling
- Very stretched or shiny skin
- Redness in the swollen area
- Numbness in the feet, ankles or legs
You should also seek urgent medical attention if you notice pain or swelling after traveling by plane or sitting for too long, as it may be a sign of a thrombosis.