Healthy blood flow to the lower extremities plays a critical role in a person’s quality of life as well as longevity. Poor leg foot and leg circulation can lead to a wide range of other serious conditions, not the least of which is the risk of blood clots forming and moving to the heart.

Common Causes Of Poor Blood Circulation In The Feet & Legs

While it is certainly more common in the elderly, poor blood circulation in the feet and legs can have other causes that can potentially afflict younger, and seemingly healthy individuals. The following are some of the more common causes of poor blood circulation in the lower extremities.


Seniors are at higher risk of suffering from poor blood circulation in the feet and leg. This is often related to things like a more sedentary lifestyle, and the gradual thickening of the aorta, as well as decreased sensitivity in baroreceptors.


Also known as “Hardening of the Arteries” atherosclerosis is one of the more common causes of poor blood circulation in the feet and legs, which can lead to PAD (Peripheral Artery Disease).


Also known as “Deep Vein Thrombosis” this condition can cause a blood clot to form in a vein deep within the body, such as the lower leg or thigh. Should that clot break loose, it can travel to the heart or lungs causing a life-threatening blockage known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).


Blood sugar handling problems can gradually contribute to other serious health complications including poor blood circulation in the feet and legs as well as, kidney disease, diabetic neuropathy, periodontal disease, heart disease, and stroke.

An Inactive Lifestyle

An overly sedentary lifestyle can gradually lead to muscle atrophy. As time goes on this can weaken your bones, as well as lowers your immune system response, while decreasing blood circulation.


Carrying excess body weight can lead to a wide range of health problems including bone and joint issues, sleep apnea, high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol. It also puts you at increased risk for suffering a cardiac event like a heart attack.


Also known as “Peripheral Artery Disease” PAD is often related to complications of atherosclerosis. As the arteries gradually harden an increasing amount of plaque start to build up within the arterial walls, this narrows them and reduced blood flow to affected limbs.


In the United States, smoking and smoking-related complications cause one out of five deaths. This includes conditions like cancer, as well as damaging the blood vessels, which further causes poor blood circulation.

Venous Insufficiency

This is a condition where blood pools in the veins rather than returning to the heart, can be genetic, but it can also be caused by age, pregnancy, obesity, or a sedentary lifestyle.

Symptoms Of Poor Leg Circulation

There are a few common symptoms of poor circulation in the feet and legs.

  • Pain and cramping in the lower extremities
  • Swelling in the calf, foot, or ankles
  • A throbbing sensation in the legs and feet
  • A feeling of heaviness in the lower body, legs, and feet
  • A persistent itching sensation
  • Restlessness
  • Persistent fatigue

If you’ve been struggling with symptoms of poor blood circulation in the legs and feet it can be more than just uncomfortable. Left unchecked it can cause life-threatening medical complications.

Ways To Improve Circulation In The Feet & Legs

There are a few simple principles that stand out when it comes to improving circulation in your legs and feet. Right off the bat, you will need to put increased emphasis on exercising and doing things that improve heart function as well as the vascular function of the legs.


Taking a daily or twice daily walk is a great way to get your blood pumping to improve blood circulation in the legs and feet. You don’t have to overdo it. Even if you haven’t been for a good walk in a good long time, even starting out with two five-minute walks a day is a great start. You can then increase how long or how far you walk a little bit every few days.

Standing Exercises To Improve Leg Circulation

If you find yourself having to stand a lot, there are a few simple exercises you can do to help promote good blood flow in the lower extremities.

Heel Lifts

  • If you are a little unstable on your feet, you might want to lean on a chair or a railing for better balance.
  • Start by raising your heels slowly so that you’re standing on tiptoes.
  • Then gently lower your heels back down again
  • Repeat 10 times for one set.

Leg Stands

This is another exercise where you might want to hold onto a rail or a chair for better balance.

  • You start by lifting one foot so your weight is on only one leg.
  • Then hold the position for 10 seconds.
  • Then switch to the other leg.

With time and practice, you should be able to increase the amount of time you can hold the position from 20 to 30 and perhaps even 60-seconds.

Standing Squats

  • Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart in an athletic stance.
  • Do your best to tighten your core muscles.
  • Then lower your body as much as is comfortable by bending at the knees. Just make sure that your knees don’t extend past your toes.
  • Early on your squats will be understandably shallow. You can then increase how far you squat down as your lower body strength improves.

Laying Down Exercises

If your current medical condition has you laying down a lot, there are still some simple exercises you can do to improve blood circulation in the legs and feet. This might also help improve other elements of lower body health by improving muscle tone and range of motion.

Ankle Pumps

  • Make sure you are lying comfortably on your back with your feet straight ahead, flex your foot to move your toes up 10 times.
  • This motion can be performed one foot at a time or both feet together.
  • Repeat frequently for up to an hour

Laying Knee Bends

  • Lying on your back with your feet straight.
  • Then bend one knee up toward your chest and then back down again.
  • Repeat 10 times for one set.
  • Then repeat the process with the other leg.
  • You can repeat this process for up to one hour.

Sitting Exercises

These are some easy-to-perform exercises that can be done while sitting at a desk or seated in a supportive chair at home.

Heel & Toe Raises

  • Sit firmly with both of your feet on the floor in front of you.
  • Then raise both heels at the same time and hold the position for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times for a single set.
  • Repeat the lifts, but this time raise the toes of both feet.
  • Ankle Rotations
  • While seated with both feet on the floor, lift one foot up an inch or two.
  • Then rotate the ankle clockwise and counterclockwise again.
  • Repeat 10 times for a single set.

Calf Stretch

  • Sit down with both of your feet on the floor.
  • Then firmly stretch one leg out in front of you.
  • Bend your toes toward you as you bend your ankle.
  • Hold this position for 3 seconds before lowering your foot back to the floor.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times or more for a complete set.