Fluid retention and exercise: a guide to finding solutions

fluid retention

Fluid retention is an edema, an increase in the volume of interstitial fluid. We are talking about an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the tissues , which is accompanied by symptoms such as weight gain, swelling in the legs and ankles, enlargement of the abdominal area or the fovea, a subsidence that persists a few minutes after having pressed with the finger.

This is explained by the Spanish Heart Foundation , which also gives useful advice when dealing with the problem. Some of them we collect in this article that we hope will serve as a guide.

Why fluid retention occurs

According to the Foundation, the causes can be varied, ranging from circulatory problems or heart failure to kidney or liver diseases .

The nephrology unit of Las Condes Clinic, in Chile, explains that fluid retention can have something to do with a serious issue: when sitting or standing in the same place for a long time, body fluids go down and They accumulate in legs and feet . Also, it may be related to a weakening of the valves of the veins in the legs , that is to say, with a venous insufficiency that hinders the return of the blood to the heart. It is a common ailment in elderly people .

The pregnant , however, also often experience leg edema, and may be caused, among other factors, medications to control blood pressure, to be blockers of calcium channels. It is not considered, however, dangerous.

The hormonal changes , says the clinic, may also be behind fluid retention. They are common in pregnancy and the menstrual period but tend to have mild intensity. In any case, it is advisable to measure blood pressure because, if it is elevated, it may require specific treatment.

Whatever the cause, it is considered to be a serious case of fluid retention if it involves pain, irritation, heat in the swollen area or if it increases the volume of a single limb . If the edema is accompanied by hypertension, fatigue or a feeling of lack of air when walking or climbing stairs, you should consult a doctor. And it is that, as we have pointed out, it can be a reflection of a heart or kidney problem.

Exercises to alleviate it

If the effect of gravity can be a cause of fluid retention, you should avoid sitting for long periods of time , as well as regular physical exercise. It helps to reduce edema by keeping the legs elevated .

The organism, in short, must always be active. In general, daily aerobic exercise is recommended for more than 30 minutes, and some specific exercises with various elements.

  • Moving the fitball : Stand on a mat, with your feet on the fitball and your knees bent. Drag the ball until your legs are fully stretched , and then return to the starting position. This exercise involves having the legs raised, so it is useful to activate circulation, but also helps to work the abdominals.
  • Dumbbell exercise : Hold each dumbbell in one hand, and raise and lower them alternately while moving the rest of the body rhythmically : taking simple steps and double steps on both sides, with crossed lateral steps … You can change the movement of the arms, for example, opening them in cross and taking them alternately to the chest, to work shoulders and upper part of the back. The use of animated music and repeating frequencies is recommended.

In terms of sports disciplines, swimming (and better if it is at sea, due to the properties of salt water), yoga , pilates or riding a bike or elliptical are especially recommended for fluid retention . With them, the lower part of the body is well worked, but long standing is avoided.

If you are dealing with elderly people who can not do certain exercises, to relieve swelling of the legs and ankles, it is recommended to change the point of support from the tips of the feet to the heels, and vice versa, move the toes or move your legs as if you were riding a bicycle , while sitting. In fact, in many localities there are urban sports spaces for free use, among which pedals are available to make this last movement.

Climbing stairs, squats or strides also help combat fluid retention.

Recommended foods

The dietitian-nutritionist Cecilia Montagna, number 65 of the magazine “Corazón y salud” of the Spanish Heart Foundation, gave the keys to a healthy diet.

It is necessary to start from the fact that the dietetic treatment before the retention of liquid is a low sodium diet . It is advisable to consume natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, meats and fish and fresh, to avoid an excess of sodium that, contrary to what you may think, does not come from table salt mainly, but from processed foods. In any case, the salt should also be replaced by herbs, spices, lemon, vinegar and oils flavored with garlic, oregano and chili , which help enhance the flavor.

Thus, dairy products (except for cured and semi-cured cheeses), fruits and vegetables can be consumed without problems , in the case of the former, or restrictions, in the case of the second group. Lean and fresh meats from chicken, pork, veal, turkey and rabbit, as well as fresh or frozen fish are also allowed .

However, preserves, smoked products, sausages, delicatessen products, pâtés or sausages are excluded . The same applies to commercial sauces, concentrated broths or precooked foods. You should also restrict the consumption of breads, crackers and other salty snacks, which can be replaced by the salt-free variant in the cereals chapter.

As for cooking methods, steam, papillote, oven, griddle, stews or stews are the most recommended . These techniques tend to better preserve the taste of food than boiled, because when the aromatic substances are diluted, then there may be a need to resort to salt for potentiation.

The specialist also offers a useful diet, which includes proposals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Includes dishes such as steamed artichokes, chicken to the spearfish, grilled veal, asparagus with vinaigrette, hake with papillote, baked sole or rabbit with garlic, but none should be added salt.

Other healthy habits

Dressing comfortable and loose enough clothes avoids the retention because, when wearing tight clothes, it is difficult to transfer liquids from one side of the body to another.

It is also important to avoid overweight because, among other things, it makes the person more prone to suffer fluid retention. It does not mean that thin people can not suffer it.

The masoterapia , on the other hand, can activate that part of the body where the edema is more evident, generally, legs and ankles. The massage should be localized in the area and in a slow but intense way, so that it takes effect.

To this can be added natural lymphatic drainage , a technique ascribed to the field of physiotherapy, which uses therapeutic massage to activate the superficial lymphatic system and improve interstitial fluid retention.

The truth is that lymphatic drainage helps to reabsorb fluids, relieves pain, reduces inflammation, helps improve defenses and has relaxing effects, so it is highly recommended.

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