Exercise and Varicose Veins

If you have varicose or spider veins, you would most likely have wondered:

  1. Has my exercise caused my varicose or spider veins?
  2. Is it is safe to exercise?
  3. What exercises are best to help prevent or slow the progression of my vein disease?
  4. When one cannot exercise.

Today, we will attempt to answer all these questions. Plus, we will discuss other solutions if you are finding it difficult to exercise for any reason.

An article by S. Tabatabaeifar etal, published in 2015, looked at occupations and the development of varicose veins. They found that prolonged standing/walking and heavy lifting were a common cause and that there would be a preventive potential in more than 60% of all cases.

In general terms varicose veins are commonly associated with prolonged standing or sitting, pregnancy, a family history of vein problems, and with being overweight. Regular exercise and staying fit is helpful in preventing the development of varicose veins.

 

Has my exercise caused my varicose or spider veins?

There is very limited research with respect to this extremely common question.

Different doctors and allied health professionals will all have their particular answer to this question.

Overall we just don’t know!

From observation and basic principles some exercises are more likely to be associated with the development of varicose vein disease. Please see below.

 

Is it is safe to exercise?

Yes ! Exercise is the #1 healthy vein principle, but certain exercises are better for your veins      than others. As you exercise, blood is pumped back to the heart through contraction of the calf muscle. Therefore strong calf muscle promotes healthy blood circulation and will minimize vein disease.

 

What exercises are best to help prevent or slow the progression of my vein disease?

So given that exercise is beneficial, what exercises are good for vein health and which are counterproductive?

Walking :  The best exercise is walking. Walking is a low-impact activity that stretches and strengthens your calf pump, thereby improving your blood flow.
Set a goal to walk 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.

Cycling and elliptical trainers : These low impact exercises are great for exercising the calf muscle and improving calf pump blood flow without placing excessive stress on the veins.

Running : Running or jogging is also a fantastic aerobic exercise that gets the calf muscles moving.

Swimming : Fantastic low stress exercise. Body is horizontal !

 

THE BIG QUESTION: WHAT ABOUT WEIGHT TRAINING ?

This is contentious !

Lifting heavy weights and thereby straining increases intraabdominal pressure and general pressure on the veins in the legs. This can cause the veins to weaken and subsequently enlarge.

However, weightlifting is a great form of exercise in general with many health benefits and should not necessarily be avoided due to concerns with the development or worsening of varicose veins.

If you do lift weights:

  • Use good lifting techniques: lower weight and high repetition routines.
  • Alternate and change workouts. Eg.Change positioning of lower body exercises from standing to seated
  • Exhale when you lift.
  • Use weights that you can manage. Slowly increasing weight over time.
  • Incorporate aerobic activity such as walking or riding a stationary bike as part of your regime. Wearing compression garments (e.g. stockings, socks) while weightlifting may be of benefit.

 

When one cannot exercise

Of course there are many reasons why somebody cannot exercise, such as being time poor or medical conditions which make exercising difficult or impossible.

Fortunately there are things that one can do:

  • While sitting or standing, rock your feet back and forth on the ground from heel to toe thereby activating the calf pump.
  • Wear graduated compression stockings or socks. Especially while travelling, or if your  occupation or lifestyle includes sitting or standing for an extended period, and during

 

At Specialist Vein Care, Dr. Ivor Berman and his staff are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of vein disease, utilising minimally invasive procedures.  We can discuss your particular venous issue, discuss options and create an individualised treatment plan if required.

To make an appointment today to have your venous disease assessed by Dr Berman, please phone 9561 5155.

 

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Specialist Vein Care in Melbourne
provides state of the art techniques in the diagnosis & treatment of varicose & spider vein diseases