Do you want to know what you can do to help the appearance or discomfort of the varicose veins in your legs? The North Shore Vein Center, a nationally-accredited facility with qualified vein specialists, recommends these five simple exercises to help your varicose veins look and feel better, even without surgery.
Do I Have Varicose Veins?
The answer is “Yes,” if you have:
- Veins that appear dark blue or purple in color
- Veins, especially on your legs, that are twisted and bulging like cords or ropes
- An achy, heavy feeling in your legs
- Burning, muscle cramping, or swelling in your lower legs
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that develop most commonly in the legs. They become more common as you age, and can also become a problem during pregnancy.
In the human body, arteries and veins keep blood flowing through your body like the plumbing in a house. Veins return blood back from your body towards your heart and lungs. Special valves prevent blood from moving backward towards your feet as it flows against gravity, up your legs, towards your heart. With time, these valves can weaken, a condition known as venous insufficiency. This is the medical term for what causes varicose veins.
How Can Varicose Vein Exercises Help Me?
Physical activity is good for vein health. Each time the muscles in your legs contract, the muscles act like pumps, helping move the blood back up from your feet and legs to your heart. Physical activity also helps you avoid gaining excess weight, another risk factor for varicose veins. While exercise can’t cure your varicose veins, it can reduce your risk of developing more varicose veins and improve symptoms.
Vein exercises can also improve how your existing varicose veins look and feel by reducing swelling and improving your pain. Regular exercise improves your overall body circulation which in turn helps your varicose veins. Walking, biking and swimming are great low-impact exercises that are easy on joints but great for helping circulation in varicose veins. If you’re not a regular exerciser, the experts at North Shore Vein Center recommend starting slowly, with just walking.
North Shore Vein Center’s 5-Step Healthy Vein Exercise Plan
As much as you are able to, make time for movement breaks during your day, working in some of these circulation-friendly exercises:
- Walking. Try to walk for at least 30 minutes every day. Remember, you can break this up into smaller segments throughout your day.
- Climbing stairs. Choose the stairs every chance you get and say no to elevators or escalators. Raising your calf with each step up on stairs contracts the muscle, and squeezes blood back up your legs.
- Calf raises. This is another easy exercise that can be done multiple times throughout the day, whether seated or standing. Set a reminder on your phone or an alarm on your watch to do a set of 10-15 calf raises a couple of times a day.
- Toe flexes. As the end of the road for blood in your body, your toes and feet can swell after long days of standing or sitting still. Follow these steps to give your toes some love:
- First, lay down on your bed or on a rug on the floor and stretch your legs straight out away from you.
- Flex your toes forward and backward, repeating this movement 20 times per leg.
- Stretching. Whether it is through a formal yoga or tai chi class, or your own combination of feel-good poses, moving your body, rolling joints like your ankles and feet, increasing flexibility, and making your muscles contract and relax will help vein health. Specific stretches shown to help with venous insufficiency are:
- Lunges with alternate legs in front, front knee bent, back leg straight.
- Lying on your back and raising your legs up above your head (you can rest your legs on a wall). This relaxing position is also good for sleep, so try this move every night as part of your bedtime routine.
- Standing forward fold. Stand straight and fold forward, from the hips, bending your knees as you need to. Leave your head to dangle so that the crown of your head reaches toward the ground. Hold the pose while looking through your legs. To release, inhale, place your hands on the hips, and rise slowly.
What If Exercise Doesn’t Help My Varicose Veins?
Making healthy choices each day and regularly completing these five simple exercises will help your vein health in the long run and may even help prevent the appearance of new varicose veins.
If these chronic venous insufficiency exercises aren’t helping your veins look or feel better, you may want to consult with a vein health specialist to learn about other treatment options. As an accredited facility by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission, the North Shore Vein Center is nationally recognized for its advanced and innovative treatments. To find out more about the latest approaches to varicose vein removal and other venous insufficiency treatments, give us a call today. We offer free vein consultation appointments to help you find the best treatment plan for you.