November 18, 2020

Why do my Legs Swell

The main reason why most of us exercise is to either slim down or shape up — so it can be quite alarming to end a tough workout with legs that are larger and more swollen then when you started. Swelling is normally always caused by micro-trauma to your muscles that takes place during exercise, and is nothing to be concerned about. However, in some cases, swelling can be a sign of a serious condition that needs medical attention.

In this video, we’re covering the most common causes of leg swelling after exercise – and we’ll finish with a few tips about how to prevent it.

So, let’s get into those common causes of leg swelling:

1. Micro-Trauma and Swelling

When you exercise, your muscles go through quite a bit of stress. The fibres tear and stretch. 

This isn’t a sign that you’re doing it wrong – it’s actually normal, and is what makes exercise valuable. Your body responds to this trauma by repairing and becoming stronger and more resilient. 

The initial stress increases blood flow to affected areas, as they rush to repair the stress. This is when you may experience some swelling.

2. Swelling From Injury

Swelling From Injury

Any sort of leg injury, no matter how serious, will most likely cause some leg swelling. Whether you’ve twisted your ankle, torn a muscle, or worse, broken a bone, you’ll experience some inflammatory swelling. 

If you have an injury, you will definitely know about it. But if you need another sign that your swelling is caused by injury, check one leg against the other. Obviously, the swollen leg will be the injured one, while the other leg will be normal in thickness.

3. Disease and Swelling

Fluid retention in your legs can make them look swollen and larger than usual. It’s important not to shrug off fluid retention, as it can be a symptom of underlying heart, kidney, liver or endocrine disease. 

Complications in your body makes it more difficult for fluid to get to where it needs to be via the lymphatic or circulatory system. Exercise can aggravate the pooling of fluids, making swelling even more obvious right after you work out.

4. Swelling and Veins

In rarer cases, swelling in your legs is caused by failing valves in your veins. Normally, the valves in your leg veins work one way to move blood up toward your heart. When these valves stop working properly, the blood gets backed up, causing swelling. 

Exercise causes this swelling to become exaggerated because blood is flowing more rapidly at a higher volume.

5. Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be another cause of fluid retention after leg exercise

Pregnancy can be another cause of fluid retention in your legs post-exercise. This is completely normal, and you won’t usually have to do anything to “cure” the issue, aside from finding ways to alleviate the discomfort. 

Exercising while pregnant is healthy, but if you’re concerned, talk to your doctor about how often and the type that's best for you.

6. Hormones

Even if you aren't pregnant, hormonal changes that occur with your cycle can make you retain water. If you're a woman and the swelling occurs at the same time each month, it’s most likely due to PMS. 

The hormonal ups and downs that occur with menopause can also cause leg swelling that's most obvious after exercise.

Why do my legs swell after exercise and how to cure it

Stopping leg swelling

Reducing and eliminating leg swelling after exercise is normally very easy. Some of the best ways to get your legs back to their normal size are as follows:

Limit your salt intake
  • Apply a cold or ice compress to the area for 20 minutes if the swelling is only in one area, such as if you’ve sustained an injury.     
  • Elevate your feet on pillows. Getting your feet above heart level passively drains excess fluid from your legs.     
  • Limit your daily salt intake. Excess sodium in your diet can contribute to your leg swelling problem. Aim for less than 1,500 milligrams per day.    
  • Remove any tight or restrictive clothing, like bicycle shorts. Restrictive clothing can work like an elastic band on your skin, preventing fluids from returning to your heart during exercise.     
  • Wear support stockings on both feet and legs if you own them. You can buy these from most retail pharmacy stores. Support stockings apply gentle compression to your lower extremities, and while they don’t look very cool, they’re very good at what they do.    
  • Try mixing up your exercise routine. Exercises that have you seated or standing for an extended period of time may contribute to your swelling.     
  • Try the “Legs Up the Wall” yoga pose. Lie on your back with your feet propped up against a wall. Stay in the position for 5 to 10 minutes to reverse the flow of blood and alleviate the swelling.
Legs up the wall yoga pose to reverse the flow of blood


If you’re fed up with leg swelling after exercises, this video should help you to figure out the cause and eliminate swelling as quickly as possible. Don't allow your condition to worsen if these home remedies aren't working, though, and talk to your doctor if the swelling is getting more severe.

There are also certain oils, creams, and support that can help leg swelling, so check out the best ones below

SaleBestseller No. 1
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SaleBestseller No. 2
Andrew Lessman Circulation & Vein Support for Healthy Legs 60 Capsules - High Bioactivity Diosmin, Butcher's Broom, Visibly Reduces Swelling & Discomfort in Feet, Ankles, Calves, Legs
  • COMBATS THE NATURAL SWELLING & ENLARGEMENT IN THE VEINS AND TISSUES OF THE LEGS that occur with aging and daily activities – Provides a potent blend of natural compounds to support tired, heavy legs and the challenged circulation in our legs. Diosmin’s benefits have been established by extensive research. Delivers targeted benefits to the delicate veins and capillaries of the legs. Andrew Lessman’s Circulation and Vein Support provides the natural relief our over-worked legs deserve.
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Bestseller No. 3
Swollen Feet and Ankles? Lipitrex Helps Reduce Swelling in Legs and Feet from Water Retention, Edema, & Slows Your Ankles from Swelling - Best for an Ankle That is Swollen, Swollen Foot, Edema in Leg
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Bestseller No. 4
Water Weight Pills to Thin Waistline & Relief Belly Bloat Ankle & Leg Swelling + Electrolytes Support w/Potassium B6 VIT | Dandelion Natural Diuretic Supplement for Water Retention Loss | Woman & Men
  • Bundle 2pk | Shed the excess water weight away while preserving essential electrolytes that support optimal muscle function, performance and metabolic processes | Diuretics alone will deplete your body of minerals, flushing them out in urine along with the excess water so you may experience lack of energy, muscle cramps, brain fog or other issues related to use of diuretics
  • Use together our water pills to flush away excessive fluids from the body tissues, reducing swells & waist line, legs & arm thickness and our mineral refill supplement, avoiding the undesirable side effects when using diuretics | Formulated for men and women | Carefully read the labels before using these products
  • Herbal Formulation, no caffeine | Great all natural ingredients - dandelion corn silk juniper cranberry & green tea increase the activity of the kidneys as well as the frequency of urination | Moreover, dandelion helps removing excess water from your body without draining you out and is able to maintain hydration due to its high content of potassium - a key electrolyte depleted when using traditional water supplements
  • Mineral refill keto friendly capsules to replenish vital electrolytes & vitamins depleted while using diuretics | Most significantly potassium but also magnesium chloride and sodium are commonly lost determining cramping feeling of exhaustion lack of concentration & brain fog | Packed with B-6 Vitamin usually associated with water retention, MCT and CoQ10 to sustain energy and probiotics to ease stomach discomfort that dandelion may cause sometimes

About the author

Tim Russell

I am passionate about health and wellbeing and have writing for over 10 years on the subject. I have a BSc Hons Degree and undertake vigorous research to help people improve their lives and live more a healthy and happy life.

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