Movement — moving your body on a regular basis — is as important to continued good health as a nutritious diet.
You likely already knew this. But the same solid advice for your health also applies to managing and minimizing varicose veins and associated symptoms. Staying active and maintaining a good exercise regimen improves your circulation and lowers your blood pressure, two factors that also reduce the risk of developing bulging veins.
Faulty vein valves are the culprits behind most varicose veins. The valves keep your blood flowing in the same direction, back toward your heart. If they fail or are damaged, the blood begins to pool, instead of continuing its journey. The result is a bulging, sometimes painful varicose vein.
Can Exercise Help the Causes of Varicose Veins?
Several factors can cause your vein valves to fail. One of the most common is a lack of movement. Exercise and varicose veins are inversely connected. If you stand or sit for extended periods at work, for example, you’re putting more stress on your circulatory system. While exercise can help you, it must be the right kind of exercise for your condition.
It’s a common misconception that athletes and those with active lifestyles don’t get varicose veins. While movement and activity enhance your circulation, some exercises can increase your chances of developing varicose or spider veins. When you understand the relationship between exercise and varicose veins, you can appreciate the intricacies.
Exercise and Varicose Veins: What to Avoid
If you haven’t met with a vein specialist, visit the Varicose Vein Center of New Jersey to meet with Dr. Dmitry Gorelik. During your consultation, you can expect him to emphasize the importance of exercise to varicose veins. Your veins and arteries are part of your body’s circulatory system. You have to exercise them along with your muscles. Muscle movement stimulates blood vessels and promotes better circulation.
However, if you’re susceptible to varicose veins, struggled with them in the past, are elderly or have other lymphatic, circulatory or venous issues, your doctor recommends that you avoid certain sports, such as:
- Contact sports. The tissue around your varicose veins may already be damaged, a condition known as a venous stasis ulcer. Protect yourself by avoiding any type of activity that could result in direct blows or even injury. Sports like rugby, full-speed basketball, martial arts and even soccer can result in impacts around your damaged veins.
- Running. While jogging and sprinting provide great aerobic exercise, the continued pounding may aggravate your varicose veins. If you’re already a runner and unwilling to give up the activity you love, then make some changes, like running a little slower. If you run on pavement, switch to grass or a synthetic track.
- Weightlifting. The blood from your legs to your heart flows through a large abdominal vein called the vena cava. Strenuous weightlifting puts extreme pressure on your abdomen. This pressure constricts the vena cava, inhibiting the flow of blood. The problem becomes worse when you lift heavier weights. If weightlifting is part of your exercise regimen, consider working out with lighter weights for more repetitions. Wear compression socks during and after your workout to improve circulation. Dr. Gorelik can recommend the best type for you.
- High-stress anaerobic activities. Maintaining prolonged yoga postures that involve the abdomen — such as lunges, crunches or sit-ups — can inhibit your blood flow. Consider more fluid types of training and abdominal routines.
Exercise and Varicose Veins: What to Pursue
When you’re exercising to heal your varicose veins, strive to optimize your blood flow. One way to do this is to keep your calf muscles fully involved and engaged. Your calf muscles constrict and relax the vessels in your legs, which pump the blood effortlessly back to your heart. Exercises that promote good calf muscle strength include:
- Walking. The best form of exercise to help heal your varicose veins is walking. It strengthens your calf muscles, increases your blood flow and lowers your blood pressure. Try to walk for a minimum of 30 minutes per day for at least five days each week. Moderate walking doesn’t over-stress your joints, nor do you risk any impacts that could injure the fragile tissue near your varicose veins.
- Ellipticals, stationary bikes and rowing machines. All these aerobic activities involve low-impact exercise. They enhance your blood flow and lower your blood pressure without placing stress on your joints or constricting your vena cava. Consider adding these aerobic machines to your weekly exercise routine.
- Foot exercises. It’s easy to forget how important our feet are until there’s something wrong with them. Varicose veins can benefit from any exercises that strengthen your feet. Rocking your weight back and forth from the balls of your feet to your heels strengthens muscles, realigns bones and increases blood flow.
- Elevate your legs. You can do this often, throughout the day, to counter swelling and reduce the achy, heavy feeling often associated with poor circulation and blood pooling. While elevating your legs isn’t necessarily an exercise, you can add a stretch to it. It all helps!
Dr. Gorelik can design the right exercise routine for you, in conjunction with home care and office treatment, that manages your vein problems. He gets you on your way to a healthier lifestyle with fewer varicose veins. He specializes in vein treatment for women, but addresses men’s vein issues, too.
Call for an appointment today!212.389.1326