Around the world, an estimated three in every ten adults have varicose veins. A vein disorder like varicose veins can put a damper on one’s day to day life, creating pain and discomfort that makes regular activities a challenge. Varicose veins also cause cosmetic insecurity, particularly among women, as the weakened veins twist and bulge beneath the skin and the darkish-purple color of veins is often visible. Living with varicose veins can cause swelling and itchiness, cramping, and an overall heaviness to the legs that are hard to manage each day.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent varicose veins, or help manage your symptoms should weakened vein walls already be an issue. Regular physical activity is one sound method to ease varicose veins woes, but it is necessary to consider both the dos and don’ts of exercise and varicose veins.
The Link Between Exercise and Varicose Veins
According to vein specialists at Radiance Vein Clinic, using exercises to prevent varicose veins is a common choice among patients. Varicose veins take place because the walls of the veins weaken, due to age, genetic predisposition to vein disorders, or other factors such as pregnancy or carrying excess weight. Regardless of the cause of varicose veins, when the vein walls break down, blood is not allowed to flow freely throughout the body as it normally would, and this causes the vein to stop working correctly.
Exercise is one way to help prevent varicose veins among adults because of its connection to healthy blood flow. Different activities can help boost circulation in the legs, as well as help individuals maintain a healthy weight over time. However, before starting a regimen of exercise to prevent varicose veins or ease current symptoms, it is helpful to consult a vein specialist or doctor to ensure the activities are appropriate for you and your veins.
Exercise Dos and Don’ts
The following exercises can help prevent varicose veins as well as reduce some of the discomforts that come from varicose veins over time.
Walking – planning a 20 to 30-minute walk each day is one surefire way to help with varicose veins. Walking improves the circulation in the legs without putting pressure on the joints or veins, and it can promote a healthy weight over time.
Cycling – another low-impact exercise for varicose veins is cycling. Riding a bicycle also helps with blood flow and circulation, and it strengthens the calf muscles, which can help prevent vein issues.
Swimming – swimming can be advantageous in preventing varicose veins because the kicking motion in the water moves the blood out of the legs. This exercise also brings legs above the heart level, which improves blood flow and circulation.
Leg lifts – in either a standing or lying position, bringing the legs up in the air one at a time to stretch the leg muscles and boost blood flow. Leg lifts also help with flexibility and muscle strength.
Lunges – because they work various muscles in the calves and feet, lunges are a good exercise for preventing varicose veins as well. When the calf muscles are strong, healthy blood flow is promoted.
Stretching – like leg lifts, regular stretching can reduce the potential for varicose veins. Stretching also improves blood flow and circulation while strengthening the muscles.
Exercises to Avoid
Although there are several exercises to add to a daily routine that can help with varicose vein prevention or the reduction of symptoms, there are just as many physical activities to avoid. First, heavy lifting may not be the best option for individuals who already struggle with varicose veins. Lifting heavy weights for extended periods may put excess strain on the legs and feet, and this can lead to vein issues in the long run.
Additionally, high-impact exercises like running are not often recommended for those who have varicose veins. Although running does not cause vein disorders, the harsh impact of feet hitting the pavement can put additional strain on the muscles and veins. Walking and cycling are a better choice for individuals with varicose veins.
Exercising is a beneficial activity for any adult who can do so because it promotes a healthy weight over time as well as offers other benefits such as heart health. For those who are concerned about developing varicose veins, exercise is even more critical as it sets the stage for improved circulation and blood flow in the legs. Individuals who have varicose veins should focus on lower-impact exercise routines, along with recommendations for treatment from a vein specialist or doctor.