Poor blood circulation, or venous insufficiency, results from our bipedal status. We, as humans, stand tall, and the inevitable gravity causes blood to be drawn to the legs. It is then up to the heart to operate the mechanism of pumping the blood upwards, towards the other organs. However, venous problems that may occur over time complicate this thinning of the blood, leading to possible complications. Many people underestimate the consequences of poor blood circulation. Indeed, in the long term, it can have a big impact on health, sometimes irreversible. It is therefore important to know how to identify poor blood circulation, and to be able to treat it, either with small, simple everyday actions, or with the help of a specialist.

How to recognize poor blood circulation?

Efficient blood circulation provides the oxygen and necessary nutrients for proper functioning of the organs. When this is altered, it has a direct impact on the extremities of the body, such as the hands, feet, legs and ankles, and sometimes even on certain organs in the most severe cases. The physical repercussions are not to be taken lightly, with sometimes the appearance of chronic diseases harmful to the brain, such as stroke or even kidney failures. Don’t worry, poor blood circulation is a concern of many people, and it is very well managed after a consultation with a vascular specialist or a general practitioner.

There are certain physical signs that can alert you when it comes to recognizing poor circulation. Indeed, there are 6 main effects, sometimes visible and sometimes resulting simply from internal sensations:

1. Swollen ankles

At the end of the day, when you take off your shoes, do you notice the mark of your socks on your ankles or calves? The next morning when you wake up, this mark disappeared? It is surely an evening edema, the peculiarity of which is that it only occurs in the evening. Indeed during the day, we observe a descent then a stagnation of liquid in the lower limbs, caused by too much sedentarity. When the night has passed, after raising our legs, this swelling goes away. This is typically a sign of poor circulation.

2. Tingling sensation

Another sign of poor blood circulation is the tingling sensations you may feel. This is because it is an accumulation of toxins which subsequently leads to distension of the venous walls. These venous dilations then cause pins and needles, tingling and even the sensation of water flowing down our legs, which can even lead to a muscle cramp. We notice these discomforts especially when we spend too much time in a static position or shuffling along. Be aware that the static position is the worst for vascularization problems, try to avoid it as much as possible.

3. Blue and / or unusually cold feet

You’ve probably noticed it when you get on a plane: your feet tend to get cold, and your ankles get swollen when you sit too long. And did you know that working in a seated position for 7 hours a day produces the same harmful effects for your blood circulation? Without regular movement during the day, such as walking or exercising, the veins dilate because blood pressure does not release as it should. When the blood stagnates, the blood transported to the organs is poor in oxygen and tinted slightly blue. This is how we observe blue, purple or cold lower limbs. If you notice an abnormal color on your feet, and it returns to normal pinkish when walking, it is necessary to consult a specialist.

4. The beginning of varicose veins

A varicose vein is a diseased vein in which the blood moves in the opposite direction, so it is no longer functional. This painful dilation of the veins occurs in the majority of cases in the lower limbs, at the level of the legs. However, a blood flow disorder does not necessarily mean the appearance of varicose veins, because not all veins are diseased. The diagnosis of varicose veins must always be made after a medical examination, where a Doppler ultrasound (ultrasound) has been performed to measure blood flow, as well as their circulation.

What are the causes of poor blood circulation?

Now, it is important to talk about the different causes that can lead to a blood circulation disorder. With our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and our less varied and more industrial way of eating, it is not uncommon to see an upsurge in venous insufficiency. We explain below the main factors that can promote this type of pathology.

1. The hereditary factor

“When you have a parent who has varicose veins, you have a 50% risk of having them; and when both parents have it, the risk is 90% ”, says Christelle Bougard, French vascular doctor and phlebologist. Heredity is even one of the main causes of venous insufficiency or phlebitis. In addition, when there is a history in the family, children can suffer from small varicose veins very young, from the age of 20, for example. However, this is not inevitable since this early onset of varicose veins is then taken care of very quickly by patients, who do not hesitate to consult.

2. Lack of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle in all its forms

Our sedentary lifestyles (lack of physical activity, sitting or standing for too long) don’t really help promote optimal blood circulation. Did you know that to be considered “sedentary”, we must spend at least 7 hours a day in a sitting position? According to a 2020 study by the organization ParticipACTION, “Canadian adults between the ages of 18 and 79 are sedentary for almost 10 hours a day.” Longer duration than health recommendations, particularly among people 65 and over, who tend to be the most inactive. Likewise, staying in a standing position for too long only worsens the proper functioning of the venous system.

3. Overweight and obesity

When you are overweight or obese, your organs become squeezed and blood does not flow as efficiently. Abdominal pressure increases and the venous system becomes weakened. By eating a diet way too rich in saturated fat and industrial products, the arteries become blocked and can no longer deliver oxygen-rich blood to the organs. It is therefore necessary to be very careful in your food choices.

4. Smoking

By smoking regularly, the chances of suffering from venous insufficiency increase, especially since the rate of oxygenation of the blood is reduced. Fat deposits can form and the substances within tobacco can damage the walls of blood vessels. But smoking also affects blood clotting, by promoting the formation of clots in the arteries, which are already small. This can lead to very serious consequences such as heart attacks or infarction, stroke or even phlebitis (clot in a vein in the leg).

5. Taking a plane or driving a car too often

Sitting for too long, in addition to being under great pressure, such as in an airplane, can expose you to traffic problems and worse yet, sometimes moving a clot or causing an embolism. pulmonary. It is therefore essential to travel regularly during your flight, so as to circulate the blood well. Also, don’t hesitate to rotate your ankles back and forth to stimulate blood pressure.

6. High blood pressure

Poor blood circulation is generally associated with high blood pressure. This high pressure can be caused by several factors such as nutritional deficiencies, overweight or obesity, a too sedentary lifestyle, excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco or drugs, too much stress or even hyperglycemia.

Prevent poor blood circulation: 6 daily tips

Traffic disorders are not inevitable! Many small actions taken on a daily basis can drastically improve your venous return. We give you 6 tips to reduce the symptoms of discomfort:

  • Wear compression stockings (or compression stockings) during the day, to keep the legs compressed through the elasticity of the material. This compression allows for smoother circulation and brings blood back to the heart.
  • Elevate your legs when sitting down (even at a 5 ° angle is enough!). While lying in your bed, you can add a cushion at your feet. This negates gravity, regulates edema, eliminates toxins and thus relieves symptoms of heavy legs.
  • Staying active and practicing regular physical activity greatly contributes to reducing blood circulation disorders. Whether it’s a short walk after a meal, using a bike more regularly or even stretching your legs every hour for 5 minutes, any movement contributes to better blood circulation, think about it!
  • Adopt a good working posture, with your back and head straight, without crossing your legs, by raising your screen so that it is at eye level. We keep our feet flat on the ground. You can definitely use a footrest to help you maintain good posture!
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day, with a minimum of 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day. It will also make your complexion glow, with nourished and rested skin.

How to treat poor blood circulation?

It is essential, before considering any treatment to treat your venous insufficiency, to pass a preliminary examination. After consulting a vascular specialist and performing an ultrasound, several treatments may be prescribed depending on the condition of the vein. In some cases, circulation does not require surgery, and can be regulated with a quality brace, such as compression stockings or more physical activity. However, if the vein is too damaged, it will have to be removed. In this case, certain procedures are recommended.


Sclerotherapy is an ablative method that involves injecting a sclerosing product into the vein so as to dry it out, then gradually make it disappear. This treatment is used to permanently remove varicose veins and varicose vessels. It is performed in a phlebology or angiology office. Completely non-invasive, it does not require an incision or anesthesia.

Laser or radiofrequency

This “thermal” method allows to heat the collagen of the vein, to stick it and thus to close it completely. Completely performed in the operating room, the operation is fairly rapid and shows remarkable efficiency, with a recurrence rate of less than 5% within 15 years. With laser or radio frequency, you have the advantage of being able to treat all sizes of vein, and to avoid the formation of dark spots that can occur with other types of procedures.

Ultrasound therapy

Observed as one of the best alternatives to surgery, ultrasound therapy is a technique that combines two categories of ultrasound which, with their heat diffusion, burns and destroys the targeted tissues. Completely non-invasive, the procedure only lasts about 20 to 60 minutes, and delivers as many pulses as needed to treat the entire vein. Ultrasound therapy is performed in an office, without anesthesia or incision.

To remember:

  • Various visible and non-visible symptoms can suggest poor blood circulation: heavy legs, swollen ankles, cold feet, etc.
  • It is important to exercise regularly, monitor your diet, your blood pressure, and be on the move often to prevent possible complications from venous insufficiency.
  • Wearing compression stockings during the day can help compress the veins better, and make blood flow to the heart and other organs more fluid.
  • Several interventions, non-invasive or not, exist to treat damaged veins. The results are very favorable!