Does Yoga Improve Varicose Veins?
Yoga offers can relieve many of the uncomfortable symptoms of varicose veins, but it’s not a permanent cure.
If you have varicose veins, you’re probably looking for ways to relieve the pain and swelling of the raised, twisted ropes along your legs — and you may be considering yoga as a potential solution. But can this ancient practice really make your varicose vein disappear?
Although yoga offers many benefits, it cannot prevent or cure varicose veins. However, the greater flexibility, muscle strength, and improved circulation you gain by doing yoga will relieve the discomfort of varicose veins. Always check with your vein specialist before embarking on any exercise regimen, but yoga can be a part of an overall program to address varicose vein symptoms.
Yoga and Varicose Veins
Yoga’s main purpose is to promote relaxation and reduce stress while also toning muscles and improving posture. For that reason, yoga can alleviate the leg soreness and swelling caused by varicose veins. Varicose veins develop when small flaps, or valves, in the veins weaken due to a number of factors, including age, pregnancy, heredity, hormonal fluctuations caused by pregnancy and menopause, and obesity.
When those defective valves fail to pump blood back to the heart, a backlog of blood collects within the vein wall, stretching the vein to the point where it pops out from under the skin as a varicose vein. Because yoga restores optimal blood flow, it can be especially beneficial if you suffer from the painful side effects of varicose veins. Yoga poses that elevate the legs and encourage blood to flow upward against the force of gravity offer the most benefits. Here are three to try:
- Mountain Pose. This basic yoga pose strengthens your legs and aligns your body in proper posture. Though it may seem simple, it requires a focus on each part of your body from your toes to your shoulders. Begin by standing with your big toes touching, and then lift and fan out your toes. Drop back down again and press your feet and calves into the floor. Then engage your front thigh muscles, which will raise your kneecaps. As you maintain the natural curve of your spine, draw your stomach in slightly. Widen your collarbones, making sure your shoulders are above your pelvis. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then roll them back down. Let your arms hang down with elbows slightly bent and palms facing forward. Keep your neck long, but don’t tuck it down or up as your head raises to the ceiling. Hold in this position for five to 10 seconds.
- Shoulder Stand. By inverting your body, you’ll drain the blood from your legs back up to your heart. Recline on a yoga mat, lifting your legs up straight as your hands support your hips. Gently roll your body weight onto your shoulders. Then lift your upper body up, but keep your upper back and head on the floor. Stay in this pose for five minutes and release.
- Legs Up the Wall. This yoga pose elevates your legs, thereby pushing blood to the heart and reducing stress on the leg veins. As you lie on a yoga mat, inch your legs up on the wall until they’re at a 90-degree angle, keeping your hips and bottom as close to the wall as possible. Hold for five to 15 minutes.
These represent just a few yoga poses beneficial in reducing varicose vein pain and swelling. Talk to your yoga instructor about poses specifically designed to boost circulation. In general, low-intensity yoga based on gentle stretching and transitions are best. Avoid strenuous workouts, such as ashtanga and power yoga, that could strain your veins.
In addition, hot yoga, in which you perform poses in extreme heat and humidity, is not recommended for patients with varicose veins. Heat widens the veins, causing them to overflow with blood, which in turn increases the symptoms and appearance of varicose veins.
Time to Take Care of Your Varicose Veins
Although yoga and regular exercise may ease varicose vein pain, the only long-lasting cure is medical treatment. At Center for Vein Restoration, our vein specialists offer a variety of therapies that involve minimal surgical intervention and a short recovery period. Contact us today for a consultation.