My Feet Get Swollen After Sitting. How to Fix?

If your feet are swollen after sitting for a long time, there’s a significant chance that you might be suffering from a condition called “Edema”. Excess fluid present in the blood gets trapped in the foot region leading to puffiness or swollen feet. The fluid travels in a downward direction due to the force of gravity. 

What should I do if I have Edema? 

Edema can be treated at home, but only after it is correctly diagnosed by a doctor. It is important that you see a doctor if the swelling in the feet is new. Do not delay your visit to a doctor. 

Edema can also be caused due to serious health conditions such as thyroid disorder,  heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, and lung disease. In some cases, Edema is also caused due to varicose veins.

There are three types of Edema that can cause swelling of feet:

  • Peripheral edema
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Pitting edema

What kind of doctor should I see for Edema?

You can visit any of the following medical professionals:

  • Podiatrist 
  • Vein and skin specialist 
  • Physiotherapist 
  • General Physician 
  • Geriatrician

How to fix swollen feet at home?

Place your feet in an elevated position

This is the easiest way to ease some of the pain caused due to swollen feet. Whenever you have a few minutes to spare, make sure to lift your affected foot and place it on a stack of pillows or bed sheets. You can sit upright or lie down while your feet are about half a meter above the ground. 

You can also put your feet up on a stack of pillows while sleeping at night. This will prevent the buildup of fluid in your feet, and prevent them from getting puffy. 

The goal of this method is to have your feet above the mattress level. You can also keep your feet up when watching TV, reading, or doing household chores that require sitting in one place. 

Submerged your feet in an ice bath 

This is one of the effective methods to treat swollen feet. All you need is a sink or a bucket with some freezing cold water. You can put ice cubes in the water to lower the temperature further. 

Dip your feet in the cold water, and sit tight for the next 7-10 minutes. If you are new to this or stay in a cold region, you will most certainly feel uncomfortable, but I suggest you persist. 

Cold water is good for the circulation of blood and oxygen in the feet. Likewise, cold water will also prevent the buildup of fluids in your feet. You will begin to see results in just a couple of days of treating your feet with cold water. 

Contrast hydrotherapy

This is another way you can use water to treat swollen feet. But this time you are going to use both cold and warm water for treatment. This home remedy is also used by sports physiotherapists around the globe. 

Take two empty buckets. Fill one with ice-cold water, and the other one with lukewarm water. Place the two buckets side by side. 

Dip the affected foot in the cold water bucket. Let it sit for about 30 seconds. Now take the foot out, and submerge it in the warm water bucket. Let it sit for another 30 seconds. 

Repeat 5-6 times. 

This treatment method is also known as water therapy or aquatic therapy. And it is scientifically backed. Research done by Dr. A Mooventhan and Dr. L Nivethitha concludes that contrast hydrotherapy is effective for the management of pain.

Soak your tired feet in Epsom salt

epsom salt
epsom salt

Epsom salt is a household chemical compound known as Magnesium sulfate. It is commonly used in spas and rehabilitation facilities as a bath salt. It has a natural capability to reduce swelling and improve blood circulation. 

This bath salt is quite affordable. You can get a 5lbs pack for $10-12. I recommend buying it online, but you can also find it in the nearest grocery store.

This treatment method is suited for folks with swollen feet that hurt a lot. If you are in pain, Epsom salt will provide you with quick relief. It will soothe the affected area as well.

Fill a small bucket or a foot tub with some warm water. Put a couple of teaspoons of Epsom salt in it. Mix well for about 5 seconds. The salt will dissolve very fast. 

Next, submerge your affected foot in the solution for about 10-20 minutes. Repeat the process 2-3 times a week. 

What does the research say?

In this study, researchers wanted to understand what happens to our legs when we sit for a long time and why our feet sometimes get swollen. They were especially interested in how this might affect people with sleep apnea, a condition where you stop breathing while you sleep.

They asked some non-obese folks with sleep apnea to sit still for two and a half hours. Before that, they had to lie down for half an hour to get rid of any previous effects. During this whole time, they used a special method to measure how much fluid was in the participants’ legs.

Here’s what they found: In the first 45 minutes of sitting, the fluid in the legs went up really quickly, like when you blow up a balloon fast. After that, for the next 105 minutes, it went up more slowly, like a river flowing steadily.

The super-fast increase in the beginning was probably because when we sit, gravity pulls more blood into our legs, making the pressure in our tiny blood vessels go up a lot. This extra pressure pushes some of the watery part of our blood (called plasma) into the spaces between our leg cells.

The slower increase later on is likely because this process keeps happening, but at a steadier pace. The researchers found that the leg swelling didn’t seem to stop while people sat for a long time.

So, in simple terms, when we sit for a while, our legs can swell up because of the way our blood moves around and pushes fluid out of our blood vessels and into our leg tissues. It happens quickly at first, and then more slowly over time. This study helps us understand why this happens, which could be important for finding ways to prevent leg swelling when we sit for a long time.


As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, swollen feet could mean a serious health issue. If your feet are currently hurting, you should definitely try one of the home remedies discussed above. But be sure to see a doctor soon.

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