How Does Elevating Legs Benefit Circulation?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
Woman laying down

Elevating your legs isn’t just relaxing. It also greatly benefits your circulation.

Putting your feet up after a long day at the office is a great way to unwind. But if you come home from work with swollen legs that feel heavy, elevating your legs can do much more than just relax you. It can significantly benefit your blood circulation.

When you prop up your legs, you’re helping the blood flow through your veins, which can significantly reduce the chance of venous insufficiency (vein disease) and the uncomfortable, unsightly symptoms associated with this condition.

Venous insufficiency refers to a breakdown in blood circulation from your leg veins to your heart. Typically, tiny valves in the veins move blood upward. However, the valves may weaken for various reasons, causing blood to pool in the veins. This leads to painful and uncomfortable side effects such as swelling, itching, cramping, and heaviness. While varicose veins are the most prominent symptoms of venous insufficiency, blood clots and skin ulcers can also develop.

Elevating your legs is one proven method to improve circulation and ease those symptoms.

Three ways elevating legs benefits your circulation

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a widespread and often overlooked condition. One study estimates CVI affects 25 million adults in the U.S. The pain and swelling can make daily life difficult. The good news is that simply elevating your legs daily for as little as 15 minutes can temporarily alleviate those symptoms. Elevating your legs is beneficial for these three reasons:

Moves blood back to the heart. Remember those tiny valves? They fight against the force of gravity in the extremities. When weakened, the valves have an even harder time battling gravity, and that’s when blood builds up in the vein. Raising your legs counteracts gravity and drains blood back toward the heart.

Reduces swelling. When blood pools in the veins, fluid leaks in the surrounding tissues and causes noticeable swelling in the lower leg. Elevating your legs can reduce the amount of fluid in the tissues, thus lessening the swelling.

Lowers blood pressure. Sitting or standing for long hours restricts circulation in the veins. The more blood accumulates, the higher the blood pressure in the veins. Putting your feet up lowers the pressure by draining the vein of pooled blood.

Elevating your legs the right way

Before incorporating elevating legs into your daily routine, talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you. Most people can elevate their legs safely if they follow these tips:

Raise your legs above your heart. In a reclining position, raise your legs above your heart. You can either prop your legs on a pillow, a table, or against a wall. Make sure your back is well supported and you feel comfortable.

Elevate for 15 minutes. Elevating your legs for just 15 minutes three to four times a day can significantly improve circulation. At work, you can put your feet up on the break room sofa when appropriate. If you stand for your job, sit down and prop your legs to ease the swelling and pain.

While helpful, leg elevation provides only temporary relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of venous insufficiency. For a more permanent solution, explore one of several minimally invasive procedures a board-certified vein specialist performs. These one-hour outpatient procedures destroy the affected vein and free up blood flow, diverting it to nearby healthy veins. As a result, swelling and pain are significantly decreased. But even afterward, you can still put up your feet to relax!

Vein care in New Mexico

Tired of living with painful, swollen veins? The physicians at Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) New Mexico locations can help you overcome the pain of varicose veins and other vascular conditions.

CVR offers a wide range of minimally invasive surgeries to treat venous insufficiency. Each clinic is led by an experienced vascular physician who will thoroughly examine your veins and decide what treatment option is best for you.

Michael Harding, MD, is board-certified in vascular medicine, cardiology, and internal medicine. Chandran Vedamanikam, MD, is a board-certified phlebologist in venous and lymphatic medicine and family practice.

Don't live near a New Mexico CVR vein clinic location? No problem! With over 100 vein clinic locations in 22 states and the District of Columbia, there's sure to be a CVR vein center near you. You may also schedule online at your convenience.

801 Encino Place NE


Albuquerque, NM 87102

2220 Grande Boulevard SE

Suite B

Rio Rancho, NM 87124

Find CVR Near You