Pregnancy opens a door to lots of changes—some good, some not-so-fun. One common occurrence is the body’s tendency to hold onto more water, which can lead to uncomfortable, swollen legs. This is why pregnant people often say their legs feel heavy and tired.
An effective strategy to manage this issue is elevating your legs at least above your heart—but up against a wall or headboard is even better—for at least 20 minutes a day. Kourt told us: “I keep my legs up for 20 minutes in the evening/night. I use the wedge under my back and then put my legs up onto the headboard and set a timer.”
But you don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from this practice.
Here are six reasons to elevate your legs every day:
- Improved blood circulation and drainage of body fluids: Blood has to overcome the force of gravity to circulate properly, a feat made even more difficult when we are standing or sitting with our legs down. Lying with your legs elevated improves blood circulation and, consequently, the drainage of fluids.
- Better digestion: When we’re active, our blood goes to our muscles. But when we’re resting, some of that blood heads to the intestines to support digestion. Raising our legs tells our body that it’s break time and sends blood to our tummy, giving digestion a helping hand.
- Relaxed nervous system: This position isn’t just comfy. It’s like a peaceful timeout for our body. By controlling our breathing and raising our legs, we can really feel what’s happening inside. It’s almost like meditation that helps our main computer, the nervous system, to relax.
- Better quality sleep: Because this position relaxes the nervous system, it slows down the heart rate and lowers blood pressure. When it’s nighttime, the melatonin production increases and makes you feel drowsy. Nothing like a good night’s sleep to detoxify the body.
- Less foot pain: Imagine you’re carrying a backpack filled with bricks all day. Well, when you’re pregnant, that’s kind of like your feet’s job. Elevating your legs takes off that backpack and gives your feet a well-deserved stretch and break.
- Reduced swelling: Swelling and tired legs result from fluid retention. Elevating your legs helps the fluid drain from the body tissue back into circulation and, eventually, the kidneys, where it’s eliminated as urine. The process is like guiding water down a drain, but it’s happening inside you.
Swollen legs during pregnancy doesn’t have to be a battle. Just a bit of leg elevation each day—around 20 minutes—can work like magic. Everyone can enjoy these benefits. So go ahead, put your feet up, and give your legs the love they deserve!
Like this content? Go deeper with: Kourt’s first-trimester pregnancy tips and a 5-minute debloating massage you can do anywhere.
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