How to Prevent Feet Swelling While Sitting at Desk? (+Causes & Treatments)

Do you find yourself having swollen feet after sitting long hours at your desk? Well, you’re not alone!

These days, foot swelling has become a common problem for many people who spend long hours working at their desks. And it’s usually caused by the accumulation of fluids in your legs which itself has a few reasons including sitting too much.

However, the good news is that feet swelling can be treated and prevented by following a few simple rules.

So in this article:

  1. First, I talk about feet swelling symptoms and causes.
  2. Then, I’ll discuss how to prevent feet swelling while sitting at the desk.
  3. Finally, I”ll discuss how you can treat feet swelling if you’re already dealing with it.



Symptoms & Causes of Feet Swell

Well, the symptoms of swollen feet are pretty obvious:

  • Puffy or bloated feet
  • Shiny or stretched skin
  • having pain or stiffness when touched


If you’re having these symptoms, you’re dealing with feet swelling.

Feet swelling is caused by the accumulation of fluids in your legs which itself can be caused by:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Heart, liver, or kidney diseases
  • and in our case: Sitting or Standing too much


Feet Swelling While Sitting at Desk


There are some other reasons too: like infections, injuries, or taking certain medications.

Now, let’s see how you can prevent feet swelling:


How to Prevent Feet Swelling While Sitting at Desk?

To prevent feet swelling, Avoid sitting or standing at the desk for long hours and take frequent breaks to walk and stretch. Exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, stay hydrated, and reduce salt consumption. Additionally, use a proper footrest and avoid sitting on crossed legs. 

Now let’s discuss each in detail:


1. Frequent Breaks

The human body is NOT designed to sit for long hours. We need movement to maintain our normal body functions and promote blood circulation through our bodies.

It is recommended to take a break from work every 30 to 60 minutes. Just for a few minutes (5 to 10), take a quick walk outdoors or even at home. These breaks also help you avoid bum sweat!

Additionally, you can try these office stretching exercises shown below.


Desk Exercises


I know it’s very easy to forget breaks when you’re focused on your work, that’s why I strongly recommend using a work/break reminder app on your phone or laptop to schedule your breaks at work.


2. Use Standing Desks

I start with a quote from Dr. James Koshy:

Research recommends intermittent half-hour periods of standing between every one to two hours of sitting; with a total of not more than three and a half hours of standing during eight hours of work at your desk.

Using standing desks can drastically help you prevent feet swelling and improve your overall health.

when you sit for long hours, most of your muscles are relaxed, and over time they become weaker.

With standing desks on the other hand, you push a button, increase the desk height and switch to a standing posture: your muscles especially your leg muscles try to keep the proper posture and straighten your spine which improves your stability and promotes blood flow and that’s what prevents feet swelling.

And if you want to go one step further, standing desks give you the option to use under-desk treadmills: working and exercising simultaneously! (more on that later…)


Standing Desk Exercise


3. Exercise

Since you’re sitting at your desk for long hours every day, if your body isn’t strong enough to regulate fluids, gravity pulls all the fluids to your legs. And the fluids get more and more accumulated in the feet.

However, exercising is a game changer! it helps strengthen your muscles and improves your circulation system.

So make sure to work out every day (especially leg exercises) to minimize the bad effects of sitting. Also, you can use under-desk treadmills or pedals to exercise while you work! (more on that later…)

Generally, any type of exercise including weights or cardio helps a lot. but if you’re wondering, here are a few important exercises to prevent feet swelling:

  • Walking/Jogging
  • Stretching feet, ankles, and calves
  • Leg Extensions
  • Foot Pumps
  • Yoga

Make sure to check out the video below too:


4. Avoid Putting Pressure on The Legs

When sitting at your desk, always make sure to maintain a proper posture and avoid putting too much pressure on the legs.

Do NOT sit cross legs, sitting cross legs traps the fluid in your legs and worsens the problem.

While sitting, make sure to maintain a 90-degree angle for your knees and ankles. This helps with circulation.


5. Use Footrests

Consider investing in a proper footrest(best to be adjustable), it will serve you for hours of sitting every day, and it’s not even that expensive!

Using a footrest under the desk helps to keep your ankles in a natural position, eases fluid circulation, and improves your overall posture.

So make sure to add it to your setup and use it consistently while sitting.


Footrests for avoding Swelling


6. Maintain a Healthy Weight

when you are overweight, it becomes much harder for your body to circulate fluids properly. Therefore gravity pulls and accumulates all the fluids down, causing swelling in the feet.

Sitting too much and lack of movement is itself a big reason for being overweight. So, make sure to take frequent breaks, exercise regularly, and become more active overall.


Following these 6 rules together, you can avoid having swollen feet in most cases.

Now, let’s see what you can do if you already have it:


Swollen Feet At Home Treatments

To treat foot swelling at home, try using compression socks or stockings while sitting at the desk, keep your feet elevated as often as possible, stay hydrated, and reduce salt consumption. additionally, you can use massaging and cold water to improve circulation and reduce feet swelling.


1. Compression socks or Stockings

Compression socks or stockings are designed to be tighter at the ankles and they gradually loosen as they go up the legs. This puts more pressure on the ankles, improves circulation, and prevents fluid buildup.

If you’re dealing with feet swelling, make sure to wear them during the day especially while working at your desk.

There are different types of compression socks with different levels of compression. Make sure to choose the right one considering the severity of your situation.



2. Keep Your Feet Elevated

While sitting at your desk, your body fluid is pulled down and accumulated in your legs by gravity. However, we can use gravity to our benefit too!

Take a few breaks during the day, lay down, and use a pillow or a cushion under your legs to elevate them above your heart.

Doing so, gravity pulls all the accumulated fluid in your legs toward your upper body and helps you get rid of the swelling.

It’s usually advised to keep your legs elevated for 20-30 minutes a few times a day.


3. Increase Water & Decrease Salt

If you already have feet swelling, dehydration or consuming too much salt will make things even worse.

Too much salt and dehydration forces your body to retain fluids and worsens the circulation which leads to fluid buildup in your legs AKA swelling.

On the other hand, increasing water and decreasing sodium promotes fluid circulation and reduces swelling.

Make sure to always have a bottle of water on your desk. Over time, you’ll get into the habit of drinking more without even noticing it.


4. Massaging the Feet

By massaging the feet, you stimulate and pump the fluid from the lower legs to the upper body which helps with circulation and reduces swelling.

Massaging also helps loosen up your tense muscles which can cause swelling sometimes.


5. Soaking The Feet in Cold Water

Just like massaging, when you soak your legs in cold water, your veins constrict and push the fluids toward your upper body. Again, this promotes circulation and reduces swelling.

If you’re dealing with swelling right now, it’s best to use cold water daily, each day for 10-20 minutes.

So far, we’ve discussed how you can prevent and treat feet swelling. trying one of the methods alone may not work, but combining them together will definitely help you get rid of the swelling.


Cold Water for Treating Feet Swelling


Exercise While Working at Your Desk

Feet swelling is only one of the many harmful effects of sitting long hours every day. You’ve probably heard:



Unfortunately, they’re not wrong!

Research has shown that people with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular diseases as people with standing jobs


harmful effect of sitting


As you can see, a sitting lifestyle has very harmful effects on the body. We are not supposed to be sitting 40+ hours per week typing and clicking on our laptops. we should be active to stay healthy!

The good news is that staying active at your desk IS POSSIBLE!

There are several types of  “under-the-desk workout machines” that can help you stay active while working at your desk:

  1. Under Desk Elliptical Machines
  2. Under Desk Bike Pedals
  3. Under Desk Treadmills


Under desk Treadmills


Imagine having your desk facing the window and enjoying the view while working and burning calories at the same time!

And if you’re worried about the desk wobble while exercising, please check out this article: how to stabilize a desk

By the way, when choosing a workout machine for your workstation, make sure to check the Size, Weight to match your desk dimensions and also, the noise level of the machine.


Frequently Asked Questions


1. Why Do My Feet Swell When I Sit?

While sitting for extended periods, most of your muscles (especially the legs) are relaxed and Gravity pulls and accumulates all the fluids down to the legs, causing swelling in the feet.


2. How Do I Stop My Feet From Swelling at Work?

Avoid sitting or standing at the desk for long periods and take frequent breaks to stretch. Exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, use a proper footrest and avoid sitting on crossed legs.


3. Is It Normal for Feet to Swell After Sitting?

No, it’s not normal but it’s very common considering our lifestyle. You can prevent feet swelling while sitting by taking frequent breaks to walk, regularly exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight.


4. Can a desk job cause swollen feet?

Yes, if you sit for long hours and don’t move your body very often, your muscles become weak and can’t circulate the fluids properly. Therefore, you’ll face feet swelling.




Feet swelling is caused by the accumulation of fluids in your legs which can happen if you sit at your desk for long hours.

Here’s how you can prevent feet swelling while sitting at a desk:

  1. Frequent Breaks
  2. Using Standing Desks
  3. Exercising Regularly
  4. Avoid Putting Pressure on the Legs
  5. Using Footrests
  6. Maintaining a Healthy Weight

And if you’re already dealing with feet swelling,

here’s how you can treat swollen feet at home:

  1. Using Compression Socks or Stockings
  2. Keeping Your Feet Elevated
  3. Increasing Water & Decreasing Salt
  4. Massaging the Feet
  5. Soaking The Feet in Cold Water


I hope this article helps you avoid swelling for the rest of your life.


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