Poor blood circulation in the leg is often the most common cause of a “sleepy foot”, although temporary compression of the nerves in the ankle or even near the knee can also cause this feeling. Temporary paresthesia of the foot (that’s the medical name) is not usually a cause for concern and is often easily remedied. However, if you feel that your foot is constantly sleepy or numb, it could be a more serious issue like diabetes and you should see a doctor. Here is how to wake up your foot.
Part 1. Get Rid Of It Yourself
1. Change your leg position
In most cases, your foot goes numb because you cut off blood flow by crossing your legs. The blood vessels around the knee can be compressed when you cross your legs or when you give it more contorted positions. In addition, the nerves that run through the muscles of the foot are positioned right next to the blood vessels, which is why it is not uncommon to observe compression at this level. Thus, you can simply change the position of your legs by uncrossing them so that the foot regains blood circulation and a normal position of the nerves.
- The foot of the leg you cross over is usually the one that “falls asleep”.
- As the blood starts flowing through your foot again, you will feel some warmth and tenderness for a few minutes.
2. Stand up
In addition to changing the position of your legs (if you numbed your foot by crossing your legs), get up from your chair so you can improve blood circulation. When you stand up, gravity helps you push blood from the top of your leg to your foot. Arteries have smooth muscle fibers that push blood downward in time with the heartbeat, but standing up could speed up the process.
- By moving your foot in all directions (circling your foot for 15 to 20 seconds), you will be able to help your circulation while reducing the numbness you feel in your foot more quickly.
- When standing, stretch your leg slightly (such as bending at the waist and trying to touch your toes) to help “wake up” your foot.
After changing positions and unblocking the blood vessels and nerves in your lower leg, consider walking to improve blood circulation in your legs. However, you must be careful and ensure that you have normal feeling and strength in your leg, otherwise you risk tripping, falling and injuring yourself.
- Once you’ve changed positions, the numbness in your foot shouldn’t last more than a few minutes.
- Permanent foot damage can occur when blood vessels and nerves are compressed for several hours.
- Sometimes shaking your sleeping foot instead of walking may be enough if you still experience significant numbness in your leg.
4. Wear shoes that fit you well
Foot numbness is often caused by shoes that don’t fit well. You’ll cut off your blood circulation and compress your nerves by burying your foot in a narrow shoe, which could cause the sleepy foot phenomenon, especially if you walk a lot or stand for a long time. You should then choose shoes that fit well in the heel, support the arch of the foot, leave enough room for you to wiggle your toes and are made of a material that breathes (e.g. leather).
- Avoid high heels with pointed toes.
- If the symptoms are mostly on the top of the foot, try undoing the laces a bit.
- Have your shoes custom fitted by a cobbler later in the day when your feet are most swollen, usually due to swelling and mild compression in the arch.
- When you’re in the office, consider removing your shoes so your feet aren’t tight and can breathe.
5. Take a warm foot bath.
In some cases, sleepy feet can also be caused by tight or strained muscles in the lower leg, for example in the calves. By immersing your feet and lower legs in a warm Epsom salt bath, you can stimulate circulation and significantly reduce pain and muscle tension. The magnesium present in salt helps you relax your muscles. If the inflammation and swelling are a problem for you, you should continue with an ice water bath after the salt bath until your foot feels numb (about 15 minutes).
- Always dry your feet properly before getting up and walking to avoid slipping and falling.
- A deficiency in mineral salts (such as calcium or magnesium) or vitamins (e.g. vitamin B6 and B12) can contribute to unpleasant symptoms in your feet and legs.
Part 2. Use Alternative Therapies
1. Get a foot or leg massage
Ask a physical therapist or a sympathetic friend to massage your foot and calf. Massage helps reduce muscle tension and improve blood circulation. Start by rubbing your toes and working your way up to your calf to help blood return to your heart. Let the physical therapist or your friend press as hard as you can tolerate without wincing.
- Always drink plenty of water immediately after massage to flush inflammatory by-products and lactic acid from your body. If you don’t, it could cause headaches and mild nausea.
- Consider applying peppermint lotion while massaging your feet, as this will tingle and invigorate your feet in a positive way.
2. Take yoga classes
Yoga is a practice of Indian origin that promotes good health by teaching methods of breathing, meditation and body positioning through many postures. In addition to stimulating the flow of energy, the poses stretch and strengthen muscles while improving overall posture. Increasing your flexibility, especially in the legs, could save you from numbness when crossing your legs or changing them to other positions.
- When you’re first starting out, yoga poses can cause pain in your leg muscles and other parts of your body, but it should go away within a few days.
- If certain yoga positions cause numbness in your foot, stop immediately and have an instructor observe your technique.
3. Consider acupuncture
Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific energy points in the skin and muscles to reduce pain and inflammation while improving blood circulation . Acupuncture for chronic poor circulation in the legs and the symptoms associated with it can be effective, although it is not generally recommended by doctors. Based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture releases various substances including endorphins and serotonin, which helps relieve the discomfort felt.
- The acupuncture points that can help your foot and leg are not necessarily near the area where you are experiencing symptoms, some may even be on completely different areas of the body.
- Acupuncture is practiced by many health professionals, including some physicians, chiropractors, naturopaths, and physical therapists. Whoever it is must have a certificate from a competent authority.
Part 3. How To Wake Up Your Foot: To See A Doctor
1. Consult your family doctor
If you feel like your feet are constantly sleepy or if you notice other symptoms like pain, weakness, changes in temperature or skin color, it’s time to make an appointment with your doctor. He will then examine your feet and legs and ask you questions about your medical history, diet and lifestyle, and may even take a blood test to check your glucose levels and rule out diabetes.
- Your family doctor isn’t a nerve or circulatory specialist, so they’ll likely recommend another doctor with more specialized training.
2. Get a referral from a specialist
If you have numb feet from time to time, you don’t have a serious medical problem, it will only be a temporary annoyance, but there are more serious disorders that sport similar symptoms like diabetic neuropathy, heart failure, venous (a leak from one of the valves in the veins of the lower leg), chronic compartment syndrome (swelling in the muscles of the lower leg) or peripheral artery disease. A specialized doctor will then be able to correctly diagnose your problem, for example a vascular surgeon, a neurologist or an orthopaedist.
- Foot symptoms related to diabetic neuropathy include numbness, reduced ability of the foot to feel pain or temperature changes, muscle cramps, painful ulcers that do not heal, pain after light contact and toenail changes.
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, smoking, and hypertension are risk factors in the development of neuropathy. Cardiovascular disease increases the risk of neuropathy.
- Common symptoms of venous insufficiency include swelling in the lower legs and ankles, pain or fatigue in the legs, discolored skin that looks like leather on the feet and lower legs, numbness and tingling and venous ulcers. The diagnosis is made using ultrasound of the veins.
- Aging, family history, prolonged standing, increased BMI, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and trauma to the extremities of the legs are aggravating risk factors.
- Vascular ultrasound is a painless procedure that allows the doctor to observe the functioning of the veins and arteries in the lower leg.
- Peripheral artery disease affects the arteries in the limbs and is characterized by painful muscle cramps in the hips, thighs, or calves while you walk, climb stairs, or exercise. This pain goes away at rest. This pain tells you that your legs and feet are not getting enough blood. This disease increases the risk of coronary artery disease, seizures or heart attacks.
- Those most at risk are those over 70, those who smoke or suffer from diabetes, those who suffer from an abnormal pulse or atherosclerosis.
- Your neurologist may ask you to have a nerve conduction study or electromyogram to test the ability of the nerves in your legs and feet to transmit electrical messages.
3. Consult a podiatrist
A podiatrist is a foot specialist who can give you more information about your problem if it becomes chronic. The podiatrist will examine your foot to find any trauma that could have damaged the nerves or a benign tumor that could irritate or compress nerves or blood vessels. The podiatrist can then prescribe orthopedic shoes or inserts to put in your shoes to increase comfort and your blood circulation.
- A neuroma is a benign growth of nerve tissue between the third and fourth toe that can cause foot pain and numbness.
How To Wake Up Your Foot: Advice
- Avoid crossing your legs or ankles while sitting, as this can cause sleepy foot syndrome.
- Don’t sit or stand in one place for too long. Move often, especially if you work at a desk.
- Quit smoking, as it has a negative impact on your blood pressure and circulation.
- Do not drink excessive amounts of alcohol, as ethanol is poisonous to the body, especially to the small blood vessels and nerves that run through your foot.
- About two-thirds of people with diabetes suffer from mild to severe forms of nerve destruction, which can lead to numbness in the legs.
- Try wiggling each toe individually, then different foot muscles before wiggling the whole leg. It might be painful, but you’ll soon feel better.
- Move a lot.
- Apply warm water to your foot, it will stimulate and help your blood circulation.
- Wiggle your toes and feet.
How To Wake Up Your Foot: Warnings
- Consult your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms: rapidly increasing pain and swelling in the foot, weakness in the foot or leg, rapid discoloration of the foot, sudden weight loss without explanation.
This is our detailed guide of how to wake up your foot either right or left. Ask us your questions related to this topic in the comment box.