Safe Exercises if You Have Varicose Veins
Arizona offers a pleasant year-round climate perfect for exercising outdoors. But if you have varicose veins, you may want to steer clear of some workouts.
Year-round warm weather allows Arizona residents to exercise outdoors nearly every day. Still, not all workouts are beneficial if you have varicose veins. Some exercises could worsen varicose vein symptoms, including swelling, cramping, and pain.
Luckily, you can take advantage of the state’s perennially sunny climate by exercising safely. Here are some of the best exercise options for those with varicose veins.
Safe Exercises for Varicose Veins
If you have varicose veins, focus on low-impact workouts that engage the calf and leg muscles. When you strengthen the calf muscles, you’re giving your leg veins the help they need to pump blood back to the heart. Blood that collects in the veins eventually leads to protruding varicose veins, so any exercise — like the ones listed here — that works the calves promotes healthy circulation.
Walking/Hiking. A brisk 30-minute walk five times a week or once each day stimulates the calf muscles, which in turn boosts blood flow in the leg veins. As blood flows smoothly, you’ll experience less swelling and discomfort. In the Phoenix area, you’re not confined to strolling around your neighborhood. The region offers numerous scenic hiking trails, including the three-mile Blevins Trail in Usery Mountain Regional Park.
Biking. Similar to walking, peddling uses the calf muscles to power your ride. Hop onto a traditional bicycle or a stationary bike. Just make sure not to hunch over the handlebars for long sessions, as this will restrict blood flow to the legs.
Swimming. Swimming is a great low-impact exercise that’s easy on the joints. It not only cools you off in the hot weather but moves the blood along in your legs as you kick, too. Another benefit of a swim is that the stroke positions you horizontally with your legs above your heart, so blood has an easier path upward. Don’t want to swim in a gym pool? Take a short trip to one of six Phoenix-area lakes, like Lake Pleasant, a mere 35 minutes from Downtown Phoenix, for a refreshing dip in the water.
Yoga. Yoga stretches your muscles and improves circulation. It can be enjoyed indoors if air conditioning is needed or outdoors for a change of scenery. Poses that raise your legs above your heart are especially beneficial. One to try is “Viparita Karani.” In this pose, lie on the floor with one shoulder near a wall. Turn your body and walk your feet up the wall until you are at a right angle with the floor and your body is against the wall.
If the temperature becomes too hot to exercise outdoors, you can substitute indoor exercises that support the leg’s veins. Three good ones to try are:
Calf Raises. Stand straight up with legs parallel. Rise on your toes and slowly return to a flat-foot position. Hold onto a chair back if you need extra support.
Bicycle Legs. To mimic the pedaling motion of a bike, lie on your back on the floor with a mat under you for comfort. Lift your legs and bend at the knees, making a 90-degree angle. Start the biking motion by kicking your right leg out with your left staying bent. Switch legs, keeping your motion as fluid as possible.
Side Leg Lifts. Lie on your right side with your left leg on top of the right. Lift the left leg up, and hold for a few seconds. Bring the leg down, and lift it again a few more times. Switch to the other side.
Avoid exercises such as running and weightlifting. These put excessive stress on the joints and veins. Yet you can modify those workouts to make it easier on your veins. To reduce the pressure on your abdominal veins as you lift, use lighter weights and exhale as you raise the weight. Running or jogging on softer surfaces like grass is less stressful for the veins and joints.
While exercise may not prevent varicose veins from developing, it can alleviate some of the bothersome symptoms. Making exercise a regular part of your daily routine, along with eating healthy low-fat, low-sodium meals, will maintain your vein health and enable you to enjoy the sunny Arizona weather year-round. And if you want to eliminate your varicose veins altogether, you can explore several minimally invasive, nearly painless options.
Visit CVR in the Phoenix Area
Center for Vein Restoration operates three clinics in the Phoenix area. Leading the branches are two experienced vein specialists, Dr. Nick Morrison, MD, FACS, FACPh, and Dr. Jeffrey Alpern, DO. Both doctors are certified surgeons and have performed numerous vascular procedures. Contact them today for a consultation.
3509 S. Mercy Road
Gilbert, AZ 85297
1500 S. Dobson Road
Mesa, AZ 85202
9515 W. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85037