Everyone is excited for Thanksgiving. Family in town, amazing food, and a time to give thanks. You are so excited in the festive mood, however by the time you get to great festive feast your legs are tired and aching and you are purely exhausted from standing in the kitchen cooking. Hopefully, at least everyone tells you how good the food is. After standing in the kitchen for two days cooking you might be physically exhausted, but why do your legs ache so much?
When a person stands relatively still for long periods of time the circulation of blood in the body is less efficient. Arteries rely on the muscle pumping action of the heart to circulate blood. The blood easily reaches the feet from the pump of the heart and the gravitational force of the flow of liquid. Imagine a straw standing vertically. If you add liquid from the top of the straw the liquid will move to the bottom. How can the liquid flow against gravity. That is what the blood flow in the veins need to do in order to circulate through the body and back to the heart. There are two ways that blood circulates in veins against gravity up the column. The first is by using the muscle pump action of your calf and thigh muscles. As the muscle contracts, the fluid is squeezed along the vein. The second are vein valves that ensure a one-way flow against gravity.
When you are standing still cooking you are not using your muscle pump action to move the liquid upstream. Thus, the blood flow pools in the foot, ankle and lower leg. This starts the process of swelling. As more liquid accumulates at the bottom of the foot and ankle it is difficult for the liquid to move upstream. The veins enlarge and the valves inside the veins that ensuring a one-way flow cannot close an approximate. This causes a cycle in which the blood flows to the foot, stays there, and has a difficult time flowing upward in the veins back to the heart. As the liquid (blood) remain stagnant, fluid moves into spaces outside of vessels leading to tired, aching and heaviness in the foot and leg.
By the time you’re ready to sit at Thanksgiving dinner you are clearly exhausted. What is the best way to prevent the feeling of tired, aching and heaviness in the legs by the time you sit down for your meal? Compression stockings! They are difficult to put on, uncomfortable to wear, and difficult to remove, but they absolutely work to ensure circulation back to the heart. A graduated compression stocking has levels of mercury that cause compression along the vein milking the blood upward. This ensures the circulation back to the heart more efficiently. By ensure better circulation, there is less leg swelling. By the time you sit down to eat you will not feel defeated. If you are concerned about the appearance of the compression stockings, my recommendation is to wear the stockings while you cook and quickly remove them before your company arrives. You can get compression stockings at any drug store or through Amazon and you want at least 15-20mmHg.