It’s easy to forget about your varicose veins during the fall and winter, when your legs are covered by pants, tights, or cute boots. But those bulging blue rope-like veins visible under your skin will often remind you of their existence—painfully—during exercise. It’s ironic, considering regular exercise is the best way to prevent more varicose veins from forming.
Although it may be tempting to opt for comfort and let your exercise routine slide, it’s best not to. Fortunately, not all exercise aggravates varicose veins. Here’s how you can stay fit, banish future varicose veins, and keep existing varicose veins pain-free.
Modify more strenuous exercises
Regular aerobic exercise that strengthens calf muscles is important, but you should avoid anything that’s considered high-impact and strenuous. Some exercises can be modified to be more gentle and less aggravating to varicose veins.
Running is great for cardiovascular health, but not so much for your joints and varicose veins. But if you’re a lifelong runner and want to continue, try wearing compression stockings or run on softer surfaces like grass or synthetic track instead of pavement or asphalt.
Weightlifting usually involves straining, which can reduce blood flow from your legs to your heart and increase vein pressure. If you’re not ready to give up your dumbbells, use compression stockings and follow proper lifting techniques: low weights, high reps, exhale when lifting, inhale when lowering.
Yoga is wonderful for flexibility but prolonged abdominal posturing increases abdominal pressure and strain much like weightlifting, with the same adverse effects. If you must bust out the yoga mat, do so for short segments combined with aerobic activity to get your blood flowing.
Embrace low-impact exercises
The best exercises possible for optimal vein health will be low-impact and primarily aerobic to improve blood flow and relieve pressure on your joints and abdominal muscles.
Walking is the absolute best for promoting circulation in your lower extremities. Set a goal to walk 30 minutes per day at least five days a week. And if you think you can’t fit in that much exercise, think again: Parking at the far end of a lot or choosing stairs instead of elevators for short trips will add up.
Stationary bikes or elliptical machines are an excellent way to get the high-aerobic exercise of running without the high-impact pressure on joints and varicose veins.
Swimming is the lowest-impact exercise possible with an added bonus: the external pressure of the water can often relieve varicose vein pain, and positioning your legs horizontally is great for blood flow.
Other tips for reducing varicose vein pain
People with mobility issues or those who experience excessive varicose vein pain from exercising can still promote healthy veins with these alternative exercises and tips:
Rotate your ankles whenever you’re sitting and rock your feet back and forth when standing to increase blood flow.
Wear compression stockings on a regular basis to provide external pressure that reduces blood pooling.
Avoid high heels, which weaken the calf muscles, due to the position of your foot, and prevent proper circulation.
Lose some weight to relieve pressure on your veins. Even being five or ten pounds lighter will make a notable difference.
Want to run, lift, and pose as you please?
If your exercise routine is too enjoyable or habitual to modify for the sake of your varicose veins, or if you want to get your legs in tip-top condition for the upcoming spring and summer dress season, you might want to consider eliminating your varicose veins entirely.
At San Diego Varicose Vein Treatment Center, we offer a variety of minimally invasive procedures to restore a smooth, youthful appearance to your legs. Dr. Taghizadeh goes beyond diagnosing and treating varicose and spider veins on a cosmetic level to target the source of the problem. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.