If you have bad peripheral circulation and have had your blood tests done at least once, then it should be no surprise a nurse would take ages finding a good spot to draw blood from. Some people experience this while others don’t; some people are born with it whereas in some cases it might be a consequence of illness or an unhealthy lifestyle.
Blood vesselsThere are over 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body, of different types and sizes. Arteries are by far the largest ones (e.g. the aorta, the pulmonary artery etc.), as they carry blood away from your heart to other parts of your body. Capillaries are the smallest vessels where water and chemicals are exchanged between blood and bodily tissues. Veins then carry blood from the capillaries back to your heart. By ‘peripheral vascular system’ we refer to the blood vessels that are not located anywhere in our upper body (chest, abdomen), but in the extremities – arms, palms, legs and feet. These vessels enable peripheral circulation.
Blood vessel health – causes and risks of a bad peripheral circulationMost people with ‘bad veins’ are sometimes told they are simply born with it, although leading an active, healthy lifestyle should keep them away from any risks that might result from it. In some cases, high cholesterol and obesity affect circulation by putting extra pressure on your body (especially fat tissue deposits in lower extremities) or clotting blood vessels (fat debris that attaches itself onto the inner walls of your vessels, causing strokes, elevated heart rate and fatigue). Whether you are genetically predisposed to poor blood flow to your extremities, or activities in your life have negatively affected your vascular health, there are steps you can take to improve blood circulation in your extremities — and this of course is important for hair and skin health.
Improving peripheral circulation in 5 steps
- It goes without saying that maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly does wonders for your cardiovascular health. Fat cells retain water (a.k.a. water retention), which causes your limbs to swell and feel ‘puffy’ – definitely not a good feeling to have on top of the swelling caused by bad circulation to your extremities. The more excess fat you lose/keep off, the better! You might also want to quit smoking.
- Wear comfortable clothes and footwear. Nothing too tight – be extra careful when choosing your next pair of low waist jeans, as a tighter fit will restrict a part of the blood supply to your lower body.
- Massages are a great way to relax and improve circulation, and you’ll feel the benefits of a day at the spa almost immediately. You don’t have to spend a small fortune on it, as you can massage your legs/feet yourself or you can ask a family member to do it. A neck and shoulder massage is a good one because blood flows from the core of your body up to your hair, through your neck. Therefore having a nice relaxed and loose neck is important.
- Don’t forget about posture. Avoid crossing your legs for too long and put your feet up a stool instead. Stand up and walk around the office for every hour you spend sitting down.
- Wear compression hose. These are designed to improve circulation in your leg tissues. You can get them from drug stores or see your doctor and have one specifically fitted for you.