April 7 2020

8 ways to take care of your legs during the COVID-19 pandemic

Yvette Mier, BSN / RN / CWON, a well-respected nurse with over 25 years of experience in wound care and chapter author in the Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nursing Society (WOCN) textbook, "Core Curriculum for Wound Management."

8 ways to take care of your legs during the COVID-19 pandemic
  1. Wear your prescribed compression socks or stockings.
    Compression should be applied before your get out of bed in the morning and removed at bedtime. 

  2. Pamper your skin.
    Gentle skin care is a frequently overlooked component of leg health. When bathing, use a non-perfumed, liquid soap to help maintain the natural pH of the skin.  At bedtime, apply a therapeutic moisturizer to your legs and feet. Let the moisturizer absorb into your skin overnight. These simple choices decrease the likelihood of skin breakdown with minor trauma. Moist, supple skin is less prone to injury than dry, brittle skin.

  3. Position your legs above your heart.
    Medically therapeutic elevation occurs when the legs are higher than the heart. A visual cue is to draw an imaginary line from your nose to your toes. Your toes should be at or above your nose. 

  4. Take a walk.
    Walk for 30 minutes to an hour. This does not have to be a brisk walk -- a leisurely stroll is just as effective and allows you to stop and smell the roses! You can even walk around the house if you can't get outside.

  5. Inventory your compression socks and stockings. 
    A single pair of compression socks is therapeutic for 3-6 months. Develop a way to mark or organize your garments so they are removed from rotation before they are no longer therapeutic. 

  6. Read a book. 
    Between chapters, alternate exercising each leg by writing the alphabet in the air with your great toe acting as an imaginary pen. It’s harder than it sounds!

  7. Consider using rubber gloves or a foot slip. 
    Struggle with compression sock application and removal? Donning aids like rubber gloves, foot slips, and other donning tools can help. You can find donning aids in stores and online. Tools like these will make putting on your compression socks much faster and easier.

  8. Exercise your calf muscles specifically. 
    It is the contraction of the calf muscles that act in conjunction with your compression garments to promote venous return. Try some of these calf pump exercises:
    • ankle circles
    • standing heel and toe raises
    • march in place
    • pretend to pump on a gas pedal
Yvette Mier, BSN / RN / CWON, a well-respected nurse with over 25 years of experience in wound care and chapter author in the Wound, Ostomy, Continence Nursing Society (WOCN) textbook, "Core Curriculum for Wound Management." She presents regularly at national wound care conferences and is passionate about leg. She lives works in the Atlanta area.