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8 Natural Circulation Boosters 

By Gay Falkowski
teacup-2325722_1920-(1).jpgWhen multiple sclerosis slows you down, keeping your blood circulation up to healthy levels can reduce the risk of developing serious complications and may even help prevent life-threatening events, such as a heart attack or stroke. Blood is a vehicle for transporting oxygen and nutrients to all parts of your body. If the circulation system is impaired for any reason, your cells and organs don’t get the essential ingredients they need to function properly. So, how do you know if you’re circulation system is up to par? One way is to look for symptoms of poor circulation. They can include but are not limited to:
  • Cold hands and feet 
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Varicose veins
  • High blood pressure

These symptoms may also be caused by conditions other than poor blood circulation, including MS. Ask your healthcare team about any symptoms you think may be related to circulation problems, and follow their advice about what you should do. The following tips include common, natural ways to improve circulation:

1) Elevate your feet. When you lie down and prop your feet up, blood trapped in lower extremities flows back towards your heart, improving circulation. Typically, legs should be elevated above heart level for best results. This process may also help eliminate leg and ankle swelling. The legs should be elevated for about 20 minutes several times a day.

2) Get a massage. When a massage therapist gently pushes and pulls your muscles, the motions move blood throughout your body. This helps your muscles release lactic acid and oxygenates them. Be sure to tell your massage therapist how your MS affects your movements and if you have any trouble areas so the massage can be tailored to your needs. For a budget massage, purchase a foam roller you can use to roll away muscle tension all by yourself.

3) Quit using tobacco products. Nicotine is the active ingredient in cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco. Nicotine damages artery walls and thickens your blood, making it difficult for the blood to flow through the veins. Breaking a nicotine addiction can be very difficult, but many types of assistance are available to help you break the habit.

4) Stay well hydrated. Consuming enough water is key to keeping your blood volume up, which in turn helps to improve circulation. Most experts recommend eight glasses of water per day, but you can also count on some foods to contribute to your water quota. Also, avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, as both can cause dehydration. Speak to your doctor about appropriate fluid recommendations to maintain a healthy level of hydration.

4) Wear compression socks. Compression socks put a bit of squeeze on your legs so your blood doesn’t hang around in that area too long. Instead, it will move back up toward your heart. Compression socks come in a wide variety of styles and strengths so you may need to be fitted by a member of your healthcare team so you’ll be sure to wear ones most effect for your needs.

5) Soak in a warm bath. Warm water makes your arteries and veins open a bit wider, letting more blood through. While the effects of a warm bath are only temporary, it can be a great way to kick-start your circulation. Because heat can trigger symptom flares in people with MS, don’t make the water too hot. 

6) Sip a warm cup of tea. Consuming the warm tea produces the same effect as a warm bath. Additionally, the antioxidants in tea promote cardiovascular health and may improve circulation. This is true for both black tea and green tea.

7) Move your body. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve circulation. Even people who have limited mobility can ramp up the flow simply by stretching. When you stretch, muscles and tendons lengthen, allowing blood to move more freely through the blood vessels. The movements also increase your heart rate, which pushes blood faster through the vessels. A physical therapist can assess your ability and provide stretches that will be safe and effective for you.