Someone landed on my blog yesterday by googling “what is the physiologic reason for wrapping an ACE bandage from the bottom to the top?” Good question, here’s the answer. There’s gravity ok? So because of gravity all the fluid in your body goes down. Let’s use the example of a sprained ankle. If you sprain your ankle, it will swell as a result of the body doing its thing as the first step of the healing process. So you wrap up the ankle and the proper way to do this is tighter at the bottom and getting looser as you continue to wrap up the leg. The reason for that is this…..you want to direct all that inflammatory fluid towards the heart so that you encourage it to get back into the circulatory system and be processed. You know the acronym RICE? That stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. Rest – self-explanatory. Ice – cool down the area and it slows down the arteries and other vessels and stuff and cuts down on swelling. Compression – also cuts down on swelling but make sure it’s not compressed too much so that it cuts off blood supply. Elevation – same reason that you wrap something “from the bottom to the top” – you want to direct fluid towards the heart and encourage it to get back into the circulatory system.
My grandfather was insanely stubborn and for the reason above he was repeatedly told that he needed to elevate his legs at home, to direct fluid towards the heart. But he wouldn’t do it. So finally one day his health care practitioner person was fed up and told him “if you don’t start elevating your legs I’m gonna have to amputate them.” I have no idea if he then started to elevate his legs at home.
Another way to direct fluid towards the heart is through exercise. Ever been told to do ankle pumps on an airplane and get up and walk a few times during the flight? Exercise gets the muscles moving which manually makes the veins move and moves blood so that it doesn’t pool at the bottom of your legs.