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Natural Health

3 Easy Ways to Shrink Swollen Ankles

Hooray for sunny days! The hitch? Warmer weather dilates blood vessels, which can trigger leg and ankle swelling called edema. Thankfully, these simple tips work to relieve swollen ankles, legs, and feet.

Tiptoe to the kitchen.

The next time you’re getting up for a snack, tiptoe to the kitchen. “The calves are a key player for healthy circulation in the legs, helping pump blood back to the heart,” says Fred Pescatore, M.D. This way, blood doesn’t pool in the feet and ankles. Indeed, Brigham and Women’s Hospital research suggests that for 43 percent of folks with edema, working the calf muscles by tiptoeing reverses leg and ankle swelling entirely. The trick: Walk on the balls of your feet for five steps, then take five normal steps, repeating for one minute every few hours.

Spoon up ‘nice cream.’

Bananas are packed with potassium, and the mineral — which 98 percent of us don’t get enough of — helps flush excess sodium that leads to fluid retention. “That’s particularly helpful this time of year,” says Dr. Pescatore, since even a small uptick in temperature can lead to mild dehydration and perspiration that can trigger a sodium imbalance — which in turn can cause swollen ankles. One delicious fix: Spoon up frozen banana “nice cream,” which harnesses the potassium-boosting benefits of the fruit to nix swelling. To do: Slice a banana and freeze for two hours; blend until smooth and enjoy! Bonus: Its naturally sweet taste and creamy consistency are as delicious as traditional ice cream, but with 70 percent fewer calories!

Try a French seaside cure.

Bark from a tree found along the French seaside (called Pycnogenol) erases all traces of leg swelling for 60 percent of patients, according to an Italian study in the scientific journal Phytomedicine. “Research shows this unique supplement has anti-inflammatory benefits and aids in the production of nitric oxide, which helps regulate blood-vessel dilation,” says Dr. Pescatore. One to try: Life Extension Pycnogenol (Buy on Life Extension, $48).

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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