Can Exercise Alone Improve Varicose Veins?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
Blog Can Exercise Alone Improve Varicose Veins

Varicose veins, those unsightly, twisted blood vessels that often mar the appearance of legs, ankles, and feet, are a common concern for millions globally. Beyond being a cosmetic issue, they can also lead to discomfort, pain, and, in severe instances, health risks such as blood clots and venous ulcers. While there are many safe and effective treatments, individuals who desire a more holistic approach raise the question— can regular physical activity help manage varicose veins? Let's explore the impact of exercise on leg vein health.

Understanding Varicose Veins

Before diving into the topic of exercise for vein health, it's essential to understand what varicose veins are and what causes them. Typically, varicose veins and their vascular cousin, spider veins, develop when the valves within the veins weaken or fail, stopping blood from moving through the vein properly and causing blood to pool, increasing pressure in the lower limb veins. In a process called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), the veins enlarge and become visible, itchy, swollen, and uncomfortable. Genetics, age, obesity, pregnancy, and prolonged periods of standing or sitting can contribute to varicose vein development.

The Role of Exercise for Varicose Veins

Exercise, particularly activities that engage the calf muscles, has long benefitted venous health. Cardiovascular exercises like walking, cycling, and swimming can all contribute to better venous circulation. These activities increase heart rate and blood flow, promoting overall cardiovascular health and potentially reducing the severity of varicose veins.

When you engage in these specific physical activities, your calf muscles contract, helping to pump blood back to the heart. This muscle pump action aids in improving circulation and reducing the pooling of blood in the lower extremities, potentially alleviating symptoms associated with varicose veins.

According to a study titled: The impact of exercise training on calf pump function, muscle strength, ankle range of motion, and health-related quality of life in patients with chronic venous insufficiency at different stages of severity: a systematic review, as reported by the National Library of Medicine (NIH):

“Exercise training is a valuable tool for the treatment of mild and advanced CVI conditions since it promotes hemodynamic and musculoskeletal improvements that improve functionality. In individuals with mild CVI, there are also benefits in health-related quality of life parameters…”

A study published in the journal "Phlebology" (a peer-reviewed medical journal covering research on vascular disease) found that participants who engaged in regular cardiovascular exercise experienced improvements in venous function and reported reduced symptoms associated with varicose veins.1

Are There Exercises That Should Be Avoided for Vein Health?

While exercise benefits heart and vascular health, some exercises should be avoided if varicose veins are a concern. According to Clevland Clinic, exercises such as lifting weights, squatting, running, and high-impact movements should be avoided as they can exacerbate the veins in the legs and increase discomfort. Specific yoga poses involving prolonged standing or inverted positions and headstands can increase pressure on varicose veins.

WebMD also advises against high-impact exercises like jogging and jumping, which can increase blood pressure in the legs and worsen varicose veins.

Best Exercises for Healthy Veins

Low-impact exercises are generally safe and beneficial for varicose veins. These include walking, swimming, biking, leg lifts, calf raises, ankle rotations, and gentle yoga poses that do not cause excessive tension. These exercises can help improve circulation, alleviate pain, and prevent varicose veins from worsening. Additionally, exercises like leg lifts, calf raises, and ankle rotations can help improve blood flow and prevent varicose veins from worsening.

Beginning any new exercise regimen, especially if you have pre-existing vein conditions, it's crucial to ease into it gradually and seek advice from a vascular specialist beforehand.

Before You Start a Vein Health Exercise Program

While exercise can be beneficial for managing varicose veins, it's essential to approach it with caution, especially if you're experiencing discomfort or pain associated with your vein condition. Here are some recommendations and precautions to keep in mind:

Consult with a Healthcare Professional

Before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have existing health concerns such as varicose veins, it's advisable to consult with a vein health professional. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific situation.

Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) is a nationally recognized leader in treating varicose and spider veins. They offer a variety of treatment options to eliminate unsightly and uncomfortable veins and provide state-of-the-art vascular care in a compassionate and affordable manner. With 110+ centers in 22 states and 70+ active physicians, CVR boasts a 98% patient satisfaction rating.

Call 240-965-3915 to speak to a Patient Services Representative or schedule your consultation online.

Start Slowly

If you're new to exercise or have been inactive for a while, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. This approach can help minimize the risk of injury and discomfort.

Choose Low-Impact Activities

While activities like running and jumping can be beneficial, they may also put added strain on your veins. Opting for low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling can provide similar cardiovascular benefits without as much stress on your legs.

Wear Compression Stockings

Consider wearing compression stockings during exercise, especially if you experience discomfort or swelling. Compression stockings can help improve circulation by providing external support to the veins.

Stay Hydrated

Adequate hydration is essential for overall vascular health. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to support healthy blood flow.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to how your body responds to exercise. If you experience increased pain, swelling, or discomfort, modifying your activities or seeking guidance from a healthcare professional is essential.

So, Does Exercise Cure Varicose Veins?

In short, no.

While exercise can be beneficial, it's important to understand that varicose veins will not go away with exercise alone and that in-office treatments may be necessary to eliminate problem veins.

That said, by improving circulation, strengthening the muscles surrounding the veins, and supporting cardiovascular function, exercise can be a beneficial part of a comprehensive approach to varicose vein management that includes guidance from a vein care specialist.

Center for Vein Restoration doctors are trained experts in all modern vein treatments to ensure the safest and most convenient patient experience. CVR accepts many insurances, including Aetna, Amerigroup, Anthem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, MultiPlan, Medicaid, Medicare, and more.

Call 240-965-3915 to speak to a Patient Services Representative or schedule your consultation online at a CVR near you today.


  1. Rabe, Eberhard, and Erika Mendoza. "Exercise and varicose veins." Phlebology 29, no. 1_suppl (2014): 26-29.

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