7 Ways To Prevent Feet Swelling While Sitting At Your Desk

Sitting at your desk for long periods of time can be straight uncomfortable. Especially if your feet tend to swell while sitting. 

Feet swelling when sitting is known as edema. This is a non-serious condition that is very common when your body is lacking movement for extended periods of time. 

Even though this is a common occurrence, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it. Today we’re going to give you a couple of different ways that you can prevent your feet from swelling when working at your desk. 

Most of these methods can be implemented right away! Whether you’re at work, working from home, or just find yourself sitting for too long, these methods will help you say goodbye to feet swelling. 

Key Takeaways

  • Speaking with your doctor about your feet swelling is always the best place to start.
  • The main ways to reduce the amount of swelling in your feet at your desk are to introduce movement and adjust your posture to improve blood flow.
  • There are nutritional considerations as well, such as drinking more water and reducing your salt intake.

1) Keep Your Feet Moving

First and foremost we want to keep the blood flowing in our feet. The best way to do this is by keeping our feet moving a bit when we’re sitting. 

Adding little movements here and there with your feet will help blood flow which should ease swelling. Here are some easy ways to introduce foot movement. 

Ankle Rolls

As you are seated, and your feet seem like they could use some movement, perform some ankle rolls. 

This simply involves lifting your feet just off the ground and rotating your foot in circles. This activates the ankle a bit. Loosening up your ankle allows more blood flow to your feet. Here’s a visual of an ankle roll stretch.

More Foot Movement

If your ankles are nice and loose, perform some simple foot movements once in a while. 

This could just be just lifting your heels up which also flexes your calf muscle. Do this while keeping your toes on the floor. After this, you can have your heel stay on the floor and raise your toes as high as you can. This stretches the calf muscle at the same time. 

Use Active Footrests

If you don’t think you’ll remember to move your feet often enough, there‘s a solution for you. There are ways to keep your feet entertained at all times and it’s pretty automatic.

An active footrest is basically an unstable platform that you can rest your feet on. When you rest your feet on an unstable surface, your feet and legs have to stay engaged to maintain balance. 

Because you have to keep your feet active to stabilize this footrest, you will be actively using your legs and feet all day!

This solution is similar to those who like to sit on an exercise ball instead of a normal chair. They have to constantly work to stabilize themselves with a flexible base and no backrest. Therefore they are somewhat active, even when they sit.

The active footrest is a great solution for people who don’t want to think about needing to move their feet. Here are some recommended solutions. 

Floortex Active Foot Rest

This unstable footrest is designed to stimulate the lower body while sitting, increasing blood flow, and reducing fatigue. Its design rolls and wobbles underfoot, keeping the legs and ankles moving to reduce the negative effects of sedentary behavior.

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StrongTek Rocking Foot Rest

This wooden rocking footrest holds up to 350 lbs and provides comfort with adjustable angles, alleviating leg pressure, and relieving fatigue. It has a grippy surface for secure footing and can be used as an under-desk footstool or anti-fatigue board.

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You don’t necessarily have to buy anything here. something as simple as a tennis ball under your feet will give you something to stabilize.

2) Take Brief Walks

Another solution that is not only good for feet swelling but your health, in general, is taking brief walks. 

Small walks help keep your feet from staying in one place for too long. Even a walk down the hall to grab some water helps. 

It all comes back to keeping the blood flowing through your feet. Walking uses all of your feet muscles and you keep your legs nice and loose with brief walks. 

Walking is a very healthy activity to do every day, regardless. If you have opportunities to take longer walks, absolutely go for it! It’s a great way to burn some calories every day.

It’s also nice to just take a break from work, it’s an added mental health bonus! I feel like I have to take walks to break away from work and it actually helps me be more productive when I’m back at my desk.

3) Stretch Regularly

Stretching your feet and legs can promote that precious blood flow. Noticing a pattern here on how important good blood flow is for this swelling problem?

leg stretches at your desk to prevent swelling

Stretching regularly is a very healthy practice to do as much as you can. If you can sneak in 5 minutes of stretching once a day, you will feel better immediately, as well as feel more benefits in a couple of days. 

To tackle foot swelling specifically, focus stretching on your feet, ankles, and calves. These are the main perpetrators when it comes to foot swelling. 

Stretching can be done under the radar easily. You can leave your legs under your desk and perform stretches like these!

4) Elevate Feet

Feet are mainly prone to swelling because they are at the lowest part of our body. Gravity naturally adds the most pressure to our feet.

A direct way to combat this while you are sitting is to elevate your feet. You won’t be able to get them above your head because you are not lying down. However, Any elevation can help relieve a tiny bit of that pressure.

How To Elevate Your Feet At Your Desk

Elevating your feet to a level where your entire leg is straight horizontally will work wonders. This would mean placing your feet on your desk. This might not be well received if you have a lot of office mates, but if you work alone, this is a very relieving position.

The first benefit is that in this position, your toes are above your heels so you should feel relief right away in your toes. 

Second, the pressure by gravity is not all being focused on your feet anymore. You spread that pressure evenly with your entire lower and upper leg. After elevating your feet, you will feel the most relief after a few minutes. 

If you don’t want to put your shoes on your table, I understand. Here are some other ways you can elevate those feet.

Because any elevation gain is beneficial, you can use a typical cushion footrest like this:

CushZone Under Desk Foot Rest

This CushZone footrest provides a comfortable sitting position, it elevates your legs which can improve blood circulation in the legs. It features an adjustable height, high-quality foam, and a non-slip and machine-washable cover.

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If you need something taller, you can use a larger footrest with an adjustable height like this:

VIVO Black Height Adjustable Foot Rest

This footrest reduces fatigue from prolonged periods of sitting, alleviating leg and back tension. It features multiple points of height adjustment and an anti-slip textured platform surface with padding on the bottom to prevent sliding. It's easy to assemble and provides plenty of room for your feet.

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Even a small elevation can help distribute the pressure in your feet.

5) Consider a Standing Desk

Standing desks are another category that is known to have great long-term benefits. 

This is mainly a recommendation to prevent swelling because you have the ability to alternate from standing to sitting. Similar to taking a walk from time to time, a standing desk gives you the ability to change your position from sitting to standing every so often.

I use one at my workplace, and it’s a great way to keep your legs fully engaged.  

FLEXISPOT EN1 48" Bamboo Standing Desk

This bamboo standing desk is a spacious 48” x 24” eco-friendly desktop that offers a roomy setup for 2 monitors and a laptop. It has an electric height adjustable lift system and an LED memory control panel with 4 programmable memory presets for convenient switching from sitting to standing throughout the day.

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Standing improves blood circulation to your legs as your knees are not bent. Better circulation to your legs could help promote better circulation to your feet as well. 

If you do choose to go this route, keep in mind that standing for long periods of time can be hard on the feet too. The key here is to alternate once or twice a day from standing to sitting based on your comfort. 

Most normal desks can be converted to a standing desk with a standing desk converter. This is an assembly that sits on your current desk. If your feet swelling issue is happening at work, some employers will cover a standing desk expense if it is affecting your health/comfort. 

6) Seating Positions That Promote Blood Flow

To continue the theme of improving blood flow to prevent swelling, specific seating positions are important here. 

If you sit cross-legged, sit on your feet, or do something similar, this could be hurting your blood flow. Sitting cross-legged or with legs bent can really constrict blood flow at your knees and calves for some people.

sitting cross legged can obstruct free blood flow at your desk

Try to be conscious about your seating positions and think about how it could affect your blood flow. You might solve the foot swelling issue at this step here. 

If you really don’t want to give up sitting cross-legged, I would recommend using a chair that is specifically made for it. These chairs give you an additional platform under your seat for your crossed legs to rest. 

The advantage here is that you don’t have to squeeze your legs onto your current platform which constricts your blood flow. You have a dedicated platform that is lower and doesn’t bend your legs as tightly. 

7) Eat Less Salt & Drink More Water

The last item on this list has to do with salt retention. Having a lot of salty foods can quickly result in swelling of your feet. 

I remember when I was on vacation and I fell in love with some foreign chips. I ate these chips all day as we explored. Later on during the trip, my feet got majorly swollen. So much so that even walking was uncomfortable. 

I had to drink a ton of water and stop eating those chips for the swelling to go away. I still miss those chips.

The moral of this story is to try to reduce how much salty foods you intake. 

If you have a hard time avoiding a ton of salty foods, then the next best thing is to dilute all that salt in your body with water.  Drink lots of water, and this will help with any salt-related swelling of your feet. 

Before You Go

Here are some more resources from more health-focused websites that can help:

Cleveland Clinic: Treatments For Swollen Feet & Ankles

Healthline: Home Remedies For Swelling Feet

Medline Plus: Foot, Leg & Ankle Swelling

If you believe the culprit is your chair, check out our article on how to make your chair more comfortable.

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I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!

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