Muscular, tapered, tanned: the legs will be revealed all summer long. From anti-bloat menus to the most targeted sports, our protocols that really work to make them look better.
We would like them to be thinner, smoother, more curved or more tanned… They carry us, and that’s already a good start. “We tend to forget to maintain our legs, to hydrate them, to take care of them. We abuse them a lot in our current way of life,” notes Sarah Fadli, cosmetic doctor and director of Maison Lutétia, in Paris. Our relationship with them flares up even more during a heat wave. “Heat causes vasodilation of blood vessels, so venous return is less good. The blood remains localized in the lower limbs,” explains the doctor. A particularly concerning phenomenon, since 45% of French people report suffering from at least one of the symptoms of venous insufficiency *: feeling of heavy or painful legs, swelling of the ankles, edema, varicosities or varicose veins, cramps, tingling, and, in more severe cases, phlebitis or ulcers. What to do when the famous jet of cold water and compression stockings are no longer enough? The experts give us their prescription.
In video, slender and shapely legs with the Be+Etam challenge
“In some women, it is unfortunately difficult to target fat loss in the legs, whether with a diet or with sport”, reveals Claudia Modica, sports coach and former high-level footballer, who advises choosing an activity fun to spend without being discouraged. Trampoline, dancing on high heels, rollerblading… The new fashionable disciplines are not lacking in imagination to get our legs moving. “Many people make the mistake of focusing only on cardio, and avoid muscle building for fear that it will make their legs ‘bloat’. However, by developing our muscle mass we increase our basic metabolism, that is to say the energy that our body consumes at rest: thus, we can eat more, while losing fat and toning up, “says the expert.
“Rather than doing yet another diet, we adopt anti-water retention foods: the first thing to do is to limit our salt intake”, warns Valérie Espinasse, micronutritionist in Paris, adding that “you have to drink exclusively plain water or mixed with lemon juice. Avoid sparkling water and sodas, because of their humectant properties and food additives. Also limit the large volumes of water associated with vegetables, such as gazpachos.
Conversely, we favor proteins (animal or vegetable) and draining vegetables (leek, celery, artichoke, etc.). “Also bet on so-called “living” food, that is to say all raw and colored fruits and vegetables, adds naturopath Claire Andreewitch. Make great summer salads full of aromatic herbs rich in antioxidants, such as mint, basil, coriander…”
Rather than doing yet another diet, adopt anti-water retention foods: the first thing to do is limit your salt intake
Valérie Espinasse, micronutritionist
For those who do not have the reflex to hydrate themselves enough, the expert suggests “eating your water” by consuming summer fruits that contain a lot of it, such as watermelon, melon or strawberries. Her essential recipe for boosting circulation and venous return? “A fresh infusion made from horse chestnut, witch hazel or red vine, in which we add red fruits, very rich in antioxidants.” Meals are combined with food supplements based on heavy anti-leg plants, such as ginkgo biloba, sweet clover, blackcurrant or grape polyphenols.
“The right method is to use light weights and do a lot of repetitions. This is how you develop thin muscles,” says sports coach Julie Granger, founder of The Studio Paris and well-being expert at Guerlain, who suggests taking inspiration from dancers’ training to build long muscles: “What is special about dance is the precision of the movement. We point our feet, we straighten our legs, we adjust their position, we lengthen them. Conversely, disciplines such as crossfit or boot camp often create muscles in width.
Being aware of the area you are working on is just as essential: “Thus, you engage areas that would not activate on their own. For example, if you do a squat, it is necessarily the quadriceps which works, because it is the strongest muscle, so it is automatically triggered. To have long legs, you have to try to divide this work by engaging the hamstrings in the back and the adductors on the inside of the thighs, ”adds the professional ballerina.
Essential for relieving the feeling of heavy legs and reducing water retention, lymphatic drainage sees its popularity increase in summer. In the institute, we test the mechanical version, with robotic rollers which “open and stimulate the lymph nodes, then pass over the entire lymphatic network to help detoxify the body”, specifies Sarah Fadli. The light legs effect is immediate, but it must be done at least twice a week to maintain these results over time.
At home, we maintain these benefits with dry brushing, the beauty secret that stars can no longer do without: just before the shower, for two minutes, we make circular movements from the feet to the hips with the brush , ascending to the heart. Then we continue with a massage on clean skin: “In a seated position, cross your right leg over your left leg. With your left hand, massage behind the malleolus. With the palm flat, press and slide along the calf maintaining a pressure between 5 and 8 kg (to be tested on a scale). Go up, emphasizing the popliteal fossa (behind the knee), then up to the back of the thigh. Repeat the same thing, this time ending on the inside of the thigh, then switch legs. For variety, do small pumping maneuvers by pressing and releasing”, recommends Anne Cali, physiotherapist and founder of the GAD slimming protocol (Slide, press, take off), “this is the most effective way to revive venous and lymphatic return in periods of high heat. Add helichrysum or grapefruit essential oil to firm, or peppermint hydrosol to refresh.
Some postures reverse the effects of gravity by bringing the legs up to the sky. Helps blood return to the heart more easily
Laura Dary, yoga teacher
At the end of the day, we give ourselves a little yoga session: “Certain postures can reverse the effects of gravity, thanks to the fact of bringing the legs back to the sky. We help the blood to go back up to the heart more easily, ”says yoga teacher Laure Dary, who suggests trying the standing split (standing position, hands on the ground and one leg stretched vertically), by candlelight. or the posture on the head. “Put the head lower than the heart improves blood and lymphatic circulation, and ensures a better distribution of liquids between the upper and lower body,” she explains.
Smooth them out
“Today, we tend to combine aesthetic medicine techniques to optimize results against cellulite and orange peel skin. Lymphatic drainage is mixed with cryolipolysis to destroy fatty deposits, or even low-frequency waves that target the membrane of fat cells and empty them to act on dimples,” explains Dr. Fadli, specifying however that “if the treatments are effective, they are always temporary”. The new natural care in vogue in institutes? Maderotherapy, a technique from Colombia that exploits the benefits of wood.
“Unlike palpate-rolling, we are not going to relax the skin, on the contrary, we are going to tone it and sculpt it using different tools, describes Sarah-Line Attlan, founder of the Lymfea studio, in Paris. These come in different shapes, such as cylinders or spatulas. They are used on specific areas, each with their particularity: some help drain and unclog lymphatic tissue, others break up fat cells. It is practiced as a cure, at the rate of a weekly session for two months, to find smoother skin. Another trendy accessory invites itself in professional protocols as in our bathroom: the glazed knife, with its curved shape which hugs the shape of the legs. “We pass it under cold water in the shower, and we massage the skin vigorously to drive out the liquid clumps, tighten the arterial caliber, boost microcirculation”, guarantees Claire Hermet, osteopath and founder of the Faciology studios.
“Three weeks before leaving on vacation, we give ourselves one or two weekly exfoliations, advises Dominique Rist, international director of Clarins spa protocols. Thus, we obtain a more uniform tan, which will last longer. Those who are wary of the sun, but still want to wear tanned legs, can rely on self-tanner. The new formulas launched on the market make it easy to do it yourself without missing out: “The trick for a perfect result is to work it on the skin. It is applied with both hands with circular and slightly supported movements, as if you wanted to impregnate it into the skin, starting from the ankles and gradually going up to the top of the thighs. It’s like a mini massage. We finish with the top of the feet and the ankles, without going over the heels.
*Ifop survey “The French and their legs. Venous insufficiency, beyond aesthetics”, May 2020.