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Exercise and Varicose Veins: Here’s What You Need to Know

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When it comes to exercising with varicose veins, some workouts are more beneficial than others.

Should you exercise when you have varicose veins? The answer is yes, but there are definitely workout routines to follow and others to avoid. Although exercise alone won’t cure varicose veins — only one of several minimally invasive surgical procedures can do that — keeping your body fit lessens the symptoms of the painful, bulging leg veins and may inhibit the condition from worsening.

That’s because exercise controls weight, and carrying excess pounds stresses the valves in the leg veins that are supposed to push blood from the limbs to the heart. When that valve malfunctions, the blood cannot return to the heart and instead lies stagnant in the vein. This pooling of blood stretches the vein wall, forcing a varicose vein to pop to the surface of the skin.

Beyond maintaining a healthy weight, exercise boosts overall circulation. It also builds up the calf muscles vital for keeping blood pumping to the heart. Before starting an exercise program, ask your vein specialist about physical activities that promote good vein health — and those that could be harmful.

Best Exercises for Varicose Veins

In general, exercise routines revolving around low-impact aerobic activities with a particular emphasis on strengthening leg muscles rank as the best workouts for varicose vein sufferers. Many of these exercises, fortunately, don’t require a lot of expensive equipment or workout gear. They can be done close to or at home.

Take a Hike. When you walk you flex the calf muscles, which encourages the veins to pump blood to the heart. As blood flows upward, varicose veins feel less intense pressure. Therefore, you may notice a reduction in symptoms when you walk.

Pedal a Bike. Similar to walking, pedaling either a regular or stationary bike works the calf muscles while being easy on the joints. If you don’t have access to a bicycle, you can lie on your back, raise your knees to your chest, and pedal your legs as if you were on a bike.

Dip into the Pool. Swimming offers many of the same benefits as walking and biking — it’s low impact, and since you use your calf muscles to kick it drives blood from the legs to the heart. In addition, when you do your swim stroke in a horizontal position, your legs are above your heart, which further promotes blood circulation to the heart.

Work Those Calf Muscles. When you cannot walk, swim, or bike, you can still strengthen your calf muscles with some simple, at-home activities. Stand holding a chair for support; then lift your body on your toes. Finish the exercise by slowly lowering yourself down. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Lunges also tone the calf muscles. For this exercise, stand with your feet slightly apart. Then, bend one knee as you step forward, making sure the knee aligns with your ankle. Hold that position for several seconds and switch to the other leg.

Avoid These Exercises

Some exercises weaken already damaged varicose veins and should be avoided. In particular, workouts that place excessive pressure on the abdomen such as lifting heavy weights block blood flow from the legs to the heart. If you do lift weights, use lighter weights and exhale frequently.

While walking is recommended, running on hard, concrete surfaces that strain the joints and the leg veins is not. Yet you can still continue to run if you jog along a softer grass trail, however. After your run, be sure to elevate your legs so the blood doesn’t pool.

Whatever exercise routine you choose, wear compression stockings while you work out. These elastic garments are designed to provide added support to the delicate vein valves, and can be purchased in most drugstores and medical supply stores.

Want to Know More about Varicose Vein Therapy?

Exercise is one way to reduce the symptoms of varicose veins. If you’d like to know more about treatment options and how to keep your veins healthy, contact Siragusa Vein & Laser. We provide a variety of services to reduce or eliminate the discomfort of varicose veins and other venous disorders. Schedule a free screening today.

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