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Suffering Through Heat-Induced Swelling? Try These Tips

Woman laying on a chair with her feet up.
LenaSunny/Shutterstock

Do you experience swelling and heaviness in your legs and arms every time the weather starts getting warm and sunny? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Many people suffer from heat-induced water retention and swelling, and here’s how to offset it.

Legs Up the Wall

The old-fashioned legs-up-the-wall remedy really works, and the reason is pretty simple. Getting inverted stimulates the blood and lymph to travel back towards your core, promoting drainage from excess water buildup and improving circulation. This leaves your legs feeling lighter and relieves any pain caused by water retention and swelling.

In addition, getting your legs up in the air relaxes your hips and the entire spine, letting the muscles release all the tension caused by sitting and walking around all day long. You can support your spine by placing a pillow underneath your back and neck and use this opportunity to read a book or scroll on your Insta feed.

Stay inverted for at least 5 minutes and slowly work your way up to 10 or 15. Be careful when exiting the pose, because your legs may feel a bit numb. Bend your knees into your chest and roll to the side, gently coming to a seat before standing up.

Dry Brushing and Gua Sha Technique

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about these two self-massage techniques lately, as articles and workshops about both have been flooding the wellness scene. Dry brushing comes from the ancient Ayurvedic practice, and it’s believed to have many benefits, from stimulating lymphatic drainage and exfoliating the skin, to promoting the flush out of toxins and reducing the appearance of cellulite.

Although scientific evidence is scarce, many people swear by its positive results when used consistently. When using a dry brush, you want to make sure you’re always brushing towards the heart and stimulating the circulation and lymphatic flow in the right direction.

Gua sha, on the other hand, is an ancient Chinese ritual that involves scraping the skin with a small smooth gua massage instrument. The belief is that the tool stimulates energy flow in the body and promotes microcirculation of the tissue, flushing out toxins and reducing inflammation.

Some studies actually prove how efficient this little self-massage tool is in lowering the inflammation in the body as well as reducing migraines and relieving neck pain.

Gua Sha has become relatively mainstream lately with the rise in popularity of jade rollers. Many people have taken to rolling their faces each morning and evening to decrease puffiness and promote collagen production. Using a similar technique as gua sha, massaging your face with a jade roller can help you get rid of those puffy under eyes after a rough night out or a sweaty summer afternoon. While research is ongoing, a 2018 study indicates the use of the rollers increases blood flow and vasodilation.

Hydration

Woman drinking out of a steel water bottle.
Anja Ivanovic/Shutterstock

The “hydration is key” saying is almost like a mantra within the fitness and beauty community, but it should absolutely be one in everyone’s everyday life, whether they work out or not.

Human bodies are made of almost 60% water, and all of our systems depend on it. When we’re not replenishing our stash, we’re risking some of their important functions not operating properly. And when summer comes along, it’s more common than you’d think.

Sweating evaporates the water through our skin and cools the tissue beneath, which is crucial when we’re being exposed to heat. Not hydrating after this incident reduces the total body water level and creates a reaction in the body when it tries to adapt to this new condition.

This is why swelling and water retention occur, as they’re a direct response to a problem with the body’s mechanisms to control fluid levels. Making sure you’re drinking enough fluids daily is a great way to combat this, as you’ll be able to flush out the excess fluids by bringing the your body’s water level to where it should be.

According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, it’s recommended to drink about 15.5 cups of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups of fluids a day for women. Still, this recommendation is only a general guideline, as many different factors can play a role in your exact fluid needs.

Factors such as level of activity, perspiration, sleep, age, climate, and time of the year all contribute to the amount of water that’s best for you and your body. And during summer, you can rest assured, more is almost always better.

Compression Therapy and Lymphatic Drainage

Good-quality massage that tackles the areas where swelling is the worst definitely helps with pushing the excess water out of your system and getting some relief. Over the years, some popular methods emerged, proving themselves to be more efficient than a simple hands-on deep-tissue massage.

Compression therapy is a known treatment for vein problems and blood clots, as by wearing compression socks and stockings, you’re preventing the blood to pool into your leg veins, improving your overall circulation and eliminating any potential swelling.

Athletes have been using compression therapy in the form of compression boots, which get filled up with air and squeeze your leg muscles from your feet to your thighs in a variety of dynamic pulses that mimic the muscle pumps of the legs, improving the movement of fluid and metabolites. They also have additions for arms and hips, which you can easily attach and remove when you don’t want to use them.

Lymphatic drainage, on the other hand, is a form of massage that very gently pushes the water and toxins away from your body. The massage is usually performed by trained professionals, but there are techniques you can easily learn and implement yourself.


Summer brings plenty of wonderful experiences, but the annoying swelling isn’t one of them. Use these techniques and prevent it from ruining all the fun!

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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