AC FFC Tidbit of the Week for January 31, 2021: Exercises to Reduce Swollen Legs & Ankles

Many older adults are affected by swollen legs and ankles (edema), and with decreased ambulation in a hospital setting, this problem can worsen. Edema can decrease mobility, increase fall risk, and simply be uncomfortable for the patient. recently shared a 7 minute video that demonstrates three quick and easy exercises that reduce swelling in legs and ankles by helping the body pump fluids up from the feet and back into the center of the body to eventually by eliminated through the urinary tract. You can teach these to your patients in just a few minutes, and encourage them to do the exercises while watching TV. Keep in mind that once a patient is able to walk, that’s the best thing they can do to reduce swollen legs and ankles!

Exercise 1: Ankle pumps (1:28 in video)
Lie down and elevate feet on pillows. Moving only the feet, point toes up toward the head and then point toes down away from head. Aim for 30 repetitions, 3 times a day. It’s best to do this exercise while lying down, but it can also be done while seated. To make them a little more effective while seated, use a stool to elevate the feet.

An alternative (2:48 in video) is to tap the toes like tapping along to a song. It might even be fun to play some toe-tapping music while doing this!

Exercise 2: Butt squeezes (3:17 min in video)
While sitting or lying down, tighten the glutes, hold for a few seconds, then release and relax for a few seconds, then repeat. Remind the person not to hold their breath while doing the exercise. They should breathe slowly and deeply. Aim for 10 of these squeezes, 3 times a day.

 Exercise 3: Single knee to chest (5:09 min in video)
While lying down, bring one knee up to the chest and then return the leg to the flat position. Keep the other leg either flat or bent with the foot on the bed to take pressure off the back. Aim for 10 repetitions per side, 3 times a day.

Here’s a link to the full article in

Have a great week!

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