The Varicose Vein Workout: The Dos & The Don’ts
Weighing the Numbers
When you look at the statistics surrounding varicose veins, it’s not a pretty picture. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), no less than one in five American adults experience the condition. And while hardened, unsightly, surface veins may not be life-threatening, they significantly impact quality of life, leading to discomfort, heavy legs, and cramping. Alongside medical treatment, doctors often recommend that sufferers try to get more exercise.
Sweating For Better
The benefits of good fitness habits cannot be overstated, but for those with vein problems there are two positive things that happen:
- Improved Circulation: Physical activity helps improve cardiovascular health overall, which promotes better and more efficient circulation of blood. Since varicose veins are the result of failures in this process—leading to blood pooling in the lower limbs—exercise can help reduce symptoms.
- Weight Loss: Among the risk factors for developing varicose veins is being overweight or obese. Particularly, excess pounds place extra pressure on the lower limbs. Exercise, when paired with a good diet, is a good means of managing this condition.
Clearly, gym memberships—or even just ensuring regular walks or other physical activity sessions—are a net positive for those with vein problems.
But here’s the thing: when it comes to managing varicose veins, not all exercises are helpful. As such, we’ve gathered varicose vein workout Dos and Don’ts. Let’s take a look:
Certain exercises are known to be particularly helpful because they promote circulation in the lower limbs. Here’s a breakdown:
- Leg Elevation: Surprisingly, laying down on a yoga mat is the first step to a series of exercises that can help with varicose veins. Really! While on your back, lift your legs, place your feet on a wall, and hold them there for a couple minutes at a time. From the same position, you can also straighten your legs into the air and do several repetitions of separating and bring them back together. Doing bicycle circles can also help, as can pulling one knee at a time towards your chest to strengthen thighs.
- Gentle Exercises: Fitness programs that stimulate circulation while being gentle in terms of vascular pressure in the legs. Especially for those who aren’t fond of going to the gym, activities like daily walks (20-30 minutes at a time), cycling, or swimming. Others may find yoga to be particularly beneficial. These can be easily incorporated into your regular routine.
- Office Workouts: Being sedentary can aggravate varicose vein problems, and since so many work at desks, this is a major concern. For those in the office, it’s a good idea to take periodic breaks from sitting. Take a couple minutes to stand and do simple leg stretches. Also, while sitting, it’s a good idea to do up to 30 repetitions of separating and then bringing together your toes.
Focusing on activity that promotes circulation and is easier to tolerate will certainly pay dividends.
While it wouldn’t be wrong to say that anything you do for your overall health is going to be positive, it is true that some exercises may worsen varicose vein symptoms. Take a look:
- Hard Running: Where a more gentle jog is likely to help, running for very long periods of time or at high speeds can aggravate the pressure in your veins. Many patients that try for more “hardcore” running activities may end up feeling worse because of the impact of stepping on hard surfaces. If you do want to run, wear compression stockings and/or try it indoors and on softer surfaces.
- Weightlifting: The pressure and strain felt in abdominal areas of the body when lifting weights can actually hinder blood circulation from the lower limbs. If pushed too hard, a person can experience increased discomfort as veins swell further, and there is even a risk of damage. If you go this route, try for increased reps of lighter weights, and it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor.
Finding the Right Fit
In the end, making lifestyle changes like adopting fitness regimens will certainly help you take on varicose vein issues. Of course, if this condition is a serious problem, it’s a good idea to seek out medical attention, and if you already have talked to a doctor, consult them about the best means of management. With the right combination of medical care and health choices, you’ll no doubt find the relief you need.
If you’re suffering with varicose veins or other circulation issues, the team at Hamilton Vein Center is ready to help. These experts employ the latest in techniques and technologies to help countless patients find positive outcomes. Learn more about what they do by calling their Houston office at (281) 916-5660, the Austin office at (512) 710-1114, or San Antonio at (210) 405-4707 today!
- “Varicose Veins: Overview”. 2016. Institute For Quality And Efficiency In Health Care (Iqwig). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedheal
- “Exercises To Prevent And Treat Varicose Veins”. 2015. Step To Health. Accessed April 3 2018. https://steptohealth.com/exercises-to-prevent-and-treat-varicose-veins/.
- “Varicose Veins? Don’t Do These Exercises”. 2016. Health24. Accessed April 3 2018. https://www.health24.com/Medical/Leg/Varicose-veins/some-exercises-may-be-bad-for-your-varicose-veins-20160215.