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Why Increasing Foot Circulation is Essential for Diabetics

July 27, 2016 in Exercise & Wellness

A Background on Diabetes

Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common complications associated with diabetes. High blood sugar can injure nerve fibres throughout the body, however, diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in the legs and feet causing poor foot circulation. If your A1c (average blood glucose level) remains high over time, or you simply have been dealing with diabetes for decades, diabetic neuropathy can begin to occur. The highest rates of diabetic neuropathy are in people who have had diabetes for 25+ years.

Diabetics have poor foot circulation as a result of high blood glucose levels, which they experience over a period of years and eventually lead to blood vessel damage. Learning to promote circulation is essential for diabetics, especially individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes for an extended period of time.

What Causes Diabetic Neuropathy? 

Nerve damage. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of neuropathy caused by diabetes. It affects nerves leading to your extremities—including your feet, legs, hands, and arms. The nerves to the feet are the longest in the body and are most affected by neuropathy. High blood sugar interferes with the ability of the nerves to transmit signals. It also weakens the walls of the small blood vessels that supply nerves with oxygen and nutrients.

People with diabetes are among the highest in receiving foot amputations. This occurs when individuals with diabetic neuropathy leave cuts and sores (that go unnoticed due to lost sensitivity), and allow them to become severely infected. Diabetes also reduces blood flow to the feet, which increases the risk of infection.

What Does Diabetic Neuropathy Feel Like?

  • The "pins and needles" feeling is common, as well as an overall tingling
  • Feet feeling very cold or very hot
  • Feeling like you have socks on when you are barefoot
  • Feet are sensitive to the touch
  • Burning, stabbing, or shooting pains in your feet
  • Feet are numb
  • Unable to feel pain, blisters, or injuries on feet

poor foot circulation

Why is Circulation Important?

Diabetes causes the blood vessels of the foot and legs to narrow and harden. The decreased blood flow to the feet and legs, partnered with symptoms of nerve damage, create a vulnerability for injuries and a higher risk for infection. Stimulating circulation allows for a smoother transference of blood from the heart to the feet and legs. Visit Dr-HO'S Poor Circulation page to learn more about the importance of circulation.

How to Improve Circulation to Your Feet


Fitness boosts circulation. Cardiovascular training like biking, aerobics, running, playing sports, and swimming, all help to improve heart and blood vessel function.

Walk Regularly: When we walk, muscles in our feet and legs help to pump blood upward. This is why staying mobile is beneficial for people who have poor circulation.

Get a Massage:

A massage increases local circulation by stimulating blood flow in the soft tissue. You can see a specialist to experience a professional massage or massage your own feet daily at home.

Elevate your Feet: Elevate your feet no more than 45 degrees and keep them elevated for 20 minutes. This helps to reduce swelling. Practice rotating and moving your legs as they are elevated to increase circulation and encourage venous drainage.

treat poor circulation

Eat Foods that Improve Circulation:

  • Oranges: rich in vitamin C, which are natural blood thinners
  • Dark chocolate: cocoa contains flavonoids linked to improved blood circulation
  • Cayenne pepper: increases metabolic rate and strengthens arteries and blood vessels
  • Sunflower seeds: rich in vitamin E, which prevents blood clots
  • Root ginger: proven to increase blood circulation
  • Garlic: helps cleanse the blood and prevent plaque build-up
  • Goji berries: high in fibre, which boosts the immune system and increases circulation
  • Watermelon: rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps with circulation
  • Salmon: high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are shown to support the cardiovascular system and increase circulation
  • Avocado: also high in omega 3 fatty acids

DR-HO'S Circulation Promoter

DR-HO'S ® Circulation Promoter combines Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (T.E.N.S), Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and Pulse Massage to help stimulate the nerves and muscles in the soles of the feet. This system is designed to help improve circulation, reduce swelling, alleviate aching feet and legs, and relieve pain, tension, and stiffness. For individuals diagnosed with diabetes, the Circulation Promoter is ideal for both massaging and stimulating circulation in the morning before putting weight on your feet. Massaging the feet again before bed helps to relieve muscle tension even further.


Taking Care

Once you are diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy in the feet, your feet will require extra attention. You should visit your health care provider for regular foot exams to check for injuries, sores, or other potential problems. You should regularly check your own feet and wash, dry and moisturize your feet daily. Always consult with medical professionals if you are having an issue with your feet and to ensure you are getting proper treatment.

More Information on Circulation


2013. American Diabetes Association. All Rights Reserved. "Foot Complications."

2013. American Diabetes Association. All Rights Reserved. "Peripheral Neuropathy."

2011. Biass, Allison. Health Line. All Rights Reserved. "The 411 on Diabetic Neuropathy."

2016. Revitive. All Rights Reserved. "10 Super Foods to Help Improve Blood Circulation."


    August 5, 2016 at 12:44 am
    hello! My name is Eugen Serghi 61 years I diabetic for 30 years with 3 finger amputation prepicior left and right foot and have severe pain in the legs and want to know if you have a device for improving circulation to the legs ...! Regards sertghi
    • DR-HO'S

      August 5, 2016 at 9:36 am
      Hi Eugen, you can take a look at our TENS devices which can help to improve circulation. You can place the gel pads directly on areas you want to treat, or use the foot therapy pads with the kits to treat the feet. If you are able to purchase the Circulation Promoter (depending on your location) the base is very helpful with improving circulation to the legs.
      Wishing you the best in health!

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