How to Massage for Edema in Legs

How to Massage for Edema in Legs

- Cloud Massage Brand Team

Woman learning how to massage for edema in legs

Edema is when there is swelling under your skin due to excess fluid being trapped in a certain area. It can also be known as hydropsy. It is most commonly seen in the hands, arms, feet, ankles, and legs. However, it can be treated with some massage therapy

The nice thing about massage therapy is there are plenty of options for you if you are facing edema, especially in your legs, ankles, or feet. This can either be massage therapy from an actual masseuse or even with the help of a handy dandy machine. Let’s dive in about edema and massages to help you decide what might be best for you.

What Types of Edema Can Be Seen In Your Legs?

Before we dive into the kinds of edema that might be seen in your legs and how to massage it, let's talk about some of the causes, symptoms, and more that might lead you to having edema in the first place.

Causes of Edema

You might be wondering: what even leads to edema to begin with? If you’re not familiar with the buildup of fluid, it might seem like it can be due to an injury in that space alone. However, that is not necessarily the case. 

The small blood vessels in your bodies – also known as capillaries – leak fluid into surrounding tissues. While mild symptoms can be due to sitting or standing in a position for too long, being pregnant or having PMS symptoms, or even eating too many salty foods, it can also be a side effect of certain drugs. Serious causes could include congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, kidney disease, and more.

Symptoms of Edema

You might start to see the above causes in a variety of symptoms that point to edema, such as:

  • Swelling and puffiness can be seen in your legs and arms.
  • It can also be seen as stretched, shiny skin, or skin that holds onto a dimple if you press it, as if there is fluid that will spread back out over time.
  • If your abominable size seems to have increased, this can also be a symptom of edema. 

If you start to experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest pain, it could be letting you know you have pulmonary edema and you need to see a doctor ASAP.

Edema in Legs, Feet, and Ankles

Now that you know what are the causes and symptoms of edema and how it can show up across the body, we can focus more on how it can be experienced on the legs, ankles, and feet. 

Edema can have symptoms that look like your legs, feet, and/or ankles are swelling up like a water balloon because in a way, that is what’s occurring. Pitting is when you poke the swollen area with your finger and an indent is created instead of your skin snapping back to its normal state. Swelling can cause discomfort and pain and if left untreated, it can lead to difficulty walking, stiffness, stretched skin, and increased risk of infection.

However, there are a number of ways that you can address edema – including going to see your doctor. Here are some:

  • Massage therapy
  • Placing a pillow under your leg(s) when sitting for long stretches of time
  • Standing up and moving during a long period of time sitting or laying down
  • Wear compression socks or stockings
  • Potentially limit your salt intake

How To Massage Edema In Legs

Before we begin, it’s important to keep in mind you should check with your doctor to make sure that a massage for edema in your legs is a good option. It’s important that you see a properly licensed therapist or use professional grade massage tools because an improper massage can lead to even more swelling.

If your doctor does give you the “okay” to massage your own edema or the areas around it, here is how you should approach your massage:

  1. While using a gentle touch, massage towards your heart. Even using just one finger is a smart way to massage your legs.
  2. Start massaging the areas closer to the trunk of your leg before moving downward on your limb. Use short, fluid movements.
  3. Keep on performing short, light movements towards your heart as you make your way farther away from it (ex. Closer to your foot than your knee or hip).
  4. Don’t want to do it yourself? Grab a foot massager and set it on low pressure and build it over time so it’s not too much for your feet.

Please note: If the touch is too firm or if you move your hands in the wrong direction, this can increase swelling and make it harder to heal. 

What Are Some Foot Massage Benefits for Edema?

As a person with edema might be having additional stresses, a foot massage or other light massages elsewhere on the body can help reduce overall stress upon the body and edema.

Promote relaxation and help quell the swelling by asking a family member to massage your feet for you (or even do it yourself). Massage your feet with firm strokes towards the heart and some pressure. 

Leg Massage Tips For Edema

As you very gently and slowly massage your legs or feet to help ease the edema, there are other massage-related tips to help get the most out of your relaxing massage.

Start with these leg massage tips for edema: 

  • Drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water each day so your body will not hold onto the fluid but let it go
  • Soak in a cool Epsom salt bath for 15 to 20 minutes to assist with the swelling
  • Take magnesium supplements and foods full of it like almonds, spinach, and broccoli to help your body keep from retaining water
  • Eat potassium-rich foods like salmon, sweet potatoes, and chicken to help lower blood pressure and water retention 

The Takeaway

Edema can be painful and frustrating and possibly a symptom for a greater issue at hand. We recommend seeing your doctor to address the issue, however we also believe that by making some simple changes in your diet and even applying some gentle massaging can help with fluid buildup in your legs, ankles, and feet. Be kind to your body and understand what it needs to calm the edema so you can be on your feet again in no time.