Varicose veins aren’t just unsightly, but they can also be uncomfortable and lead to worse other serious problems, some of which may require surgery to correct. Luckily, there are some ways to treat varicose veins at home with exercise.
If you’re considering exercise to reduce the discomfort and appearance of your varicose veins, there are some things you need to know. For example, not just any form of exercise will help your varicose vein issues. Read on to learn more about exercise and varicose veins.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are visible on the surface of the skin. They protrude from the skin, most commonly on the legs. As people age, they become more common, pregnancy may also increase the likelihood of their development.
Simply put, veins that carry blood back to the heart and lungs have valves that prevent the blood from flowing backward due to the effects of gravity. These valves can weaken over time, due to a condition called venous insufficiency. As the valves wear down and weaken, blood pools in the veins. This causes them to grow enlarged and press against the surface of the skin, resulting in what we call varicose veins.
About 25% of women and 15% of men are affected by varicose veins. In addition to age and pregnancy factoring into the development of varicose veins, leading a sedentary lifestyle where you sit for long periods of the day may increase your likelihood of getting varicose veins. Also, obesity and genetics play a role in the development of varicose veins.
How Exercise Can Help Reduce the Appearance and Discomfort of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins physical exercise can reduce the swelling and pain of varicose veins, making them less apparent and more comfortable. For example, calf muscles pump blood up from your legs and feet to your heart. Because varicose veins are a result of poor circulation of blood, activities like exercise that increase circulation should help reduce the appearance and discomfort of your varicose veins.
- Walking, biking, swimming: Walking, biking, and swimming are three low-impact exercises that increase circulation and are easy on the joints. If biking and swimming are too difficult, try walking for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Climbing stairs: Instead of using the elevator, try taking the stairs. When you climb stairs, you contract your leg muscles which help to push blood up through the legs. You can also try stair climbers at your local gym.
- Calf raises: In a standing or seated position, lift your heels off the floor. Try to do a set of 10 to 15 calf raises multiple times a day. This exercise engages the calf muscles and increases circulation in the legs.
- Toe flexes: If you sit and stand for the majority of the day, circulation to your feet and toes may be affected, leading to swelling. Toe flexes and toe stretching can improve circulation to the feet and toes and reduce swelling. For this exercise, lay down on the floor with your legs stretched out away from your body. Flex your toes forward and back, 20 times per leg.
- Leg lifts: Leg lifts are great at engaging and stretching your leg muscles. Lie on your back with your legs straight out. Lift one leg and hold it in the air for a count of three. Lower your leg and repeat with the other leg.
- Ankle rotations: Ankle rotations are another great exercise for people who sit for long periods throughout the day. This exercise will increase blood flow to your feet, legs, and back. Simply rotate your ankles in circles and then switch rotating them in the opposite direction.
- Stretching: Stretching gets your body moving, increases flexibility, and makes your muscles contract and relax. Therefore, stretching is great for improving and supporting vein health. Some stretches are more effective than others when it comes to increasing circulation and reducing varicose veins. Try lunges, laying on your back with your legs resting on a wall above your head, and a forward fold.
- Yoga: Similar to stretching, yoga increases flexibility and builds strength in the body. This will reduce swelling and reduce pain from varicose veins.
While exercise is an effective treatment for many people who have varicose veins, sometimes it’s not enough.
SIRAGUSA’S VEIN CLINIC IN NASHVILLE
If varicose veins, spider veins or other vascular issues are causing you health problems, schedule a consult with us right away. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the middle of winter or July here in Nashville, TN. We’ll plan out a course of vein treatment to help you deal with varicose veins, spider veins, or DVT.