Will Exercise Make Varicose Veins Worse?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
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Exercise is critical to your overall health, but certain kinds of physical activity are safer for your varicose veins than others.

Many people are aware that varicose veins are associated with labor-intensive jobs that involve standing all day, or that they tend to affect people who have a family history with the condition. But those aren’t the only ways varicose veins become uncomfortable and aggravated — in fact, the way you work out could be putting you at risk.

Though varicose veins shouldn’t be discouraging you from exercising, it’s important to know what you should make a habit of and what you should avoid.

Take It Easy and Avoid Impact

Similar to how excessive standing can be problematic for the health of your veins, high-impact exercises can aggravate and worsen the condition for those predisposed to it. This includes activities like running, particularly on hard surfaces like concrete. If you must run, try wearing compression stockings and sticking to softer surfaces like grass to help improve blood flow from the legs and decrease aches and pains.

But if your body simply can’t handle the strain of running and other high-intensity activities, walking is a far safer alternative. It’s not too strenuous, and it might actually be the most beneficial physical activity for your circulation. If you’re at a job that involves extended periods of sitting, taking short breaks to walk around or climb stairs has proven extremely helpful. That being said, even walking can be a difficult task for those already suffering from varicose veins. A good method to increase blood flow without straining yourself physically is to rotate your ankles and rock your legs back and forth.

The Gym: What to Do and What to Avoid

You can still work up a sweat without worrying about how it’ll affect your veins. And if you find yourself at the gym, there are plenty of options at your disposal. For starters, the elliptical and the stationary bike are great, low-impact exercise implements that help you burn calories and increase blood flow without putting too much strain on your body.

If exercise machines aren’t your style, swimming is another excellent choice to log some physical activity that won’t have your veins regretting it afterward. That’s because swimming places the legs in a horizontal position, rather than straining them through interaction with a tough surface. As an added bonus, the cool water can soothe the discomfort associated with varicose veins.

On the flip side, it may be wise to stay away from heavy lifting. Weight-lifting has a similar effect on the body to running in that it can interfere with or restrict blood flow from the legs to the heart, causing blood to pool in the veins and enlarge them. This is a result of the straining and increased abdominal pressure that the exertion involved in lifting heavy objects requires. Sit-ups, lunges, squats, and even yoga can have a similarly strenuous effect on veins.

Fitness Is Not A Cure-All

If you already have varicose veins, don’t get too gung-ho about your future in fitness. While certain diet and exercise tactics can help prevent the onset of varicose veins, unfortunately, none of these efforts will completely solve a preexisting issue. However, they can work to improve your symptoms and relieve pain.

If you’re struggling with discomfort related to varicose veins, just want to check in on the health of your veins, or are interested in learning more about the types of diets and exercise regimens that are best for your body, be sure to schedule an appointment with a vein specialist today!

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