Do feet really expand in hot humid weather?

The foot supports all of the weight of the body. It is the final end point of the body. Furthermore it is the furthest structure from the heart, which is the antecedent of all the blood vessels of the body. And then there’s gravity. Naturally, foot swelling is a daily physiologic occurrence.

Swelling, medical referred to as edema, is defined as a condition characterized by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities of tissues of the body. It is a result of the expansion of superfical blood vessels or vasodilation. Heat is one of the major components resulting in vasodilation. Additionally, warm climate can cause the feet to perspire. While in shoes, that moisture has no wear to go and the skin will reabsorb the sweat thereby exacerbating the condition. This combination of heat, vasodilation and resorbing fluid may cause friction, the foot to blister and encourage microbial growth such as bacteria and fungus, all which in turn causes inflammation, another component of why feet swell.

There are several options to combat edema in the foot during warm weather:

  • Avoid a high sodium diet – Sodium perpetuates water retention

  • Compression – Using a light compression bandage like an Ace bandage or Coban will prevent the excess fluid from hanging out in the tissue

  • Wear absorbent socks – When the feet begin to perspire instead of it reabsorbing into the skin, a good sock will wick the moisture away from the skin. Some of these socks are also compressive

  • Elevate the foot – As indicated, gravity is a basic component for swelling in the foot. When sitting, raise the feet on a something like a stool or an empty box so the watery fluid does not have a chance to pool in the feet

  • Foot Soaks – Epsom salt is made of magnesium sulfate. Inflammation causes a depletion of magnesium (Mg). When the feet are soaked in Epsom salt it replenishes the Mg, alleviating the inflammatory process and reduces swelling

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