For the person who wants to stay active, varicose veins can be more than an annoyance — they can be an obstacle. These twisted, bulging veins can cause major discomfort, making exercise painful or even dangerous. Because of this, many people who have the condition choose to quit exercising altogether. However, being active is actually one of the best habits to adopt for overall vein health, as long as you know which exercises are best and safest for people with varicose veins.
The key is to choose activities that will be good for your body, not ones that will inadvertently harm it. In fact, the right exercise can alleviate varicose symptoms, including pain, throbbing, and cramping. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you’re choosing activities that not only can improve your fitness level, but also your vein health:
- Always warm up —No matter what type of exercise you’re engaging in, always take time to warm up before you begin. This loosens your muscles and helps prevent strain or injury.
- Don’t run on pavement — As long as it doesn’t cause discomfort, a light jog around the neighborhood can promote blood flow and alleviate varicose vein symptoms while strengthening calf muscles. However, it’s best to avoid a high-impact run on pavement or another hard surface, which can strain on your veins and increase swelling and pain.
- Do walk regularly — Walking is one of the best exercises for your veins. Simple though it may seem, regular 30-minute walks are the perfect, low-impact way to stretch, strengthen and tone your muscles, while also stimulating circulation.
- Don’t mess with weights — Weightlifting is a high-impact activity that is generally best avoided if you have vein problems. A good alternative is bodyweight squats, which can strengthen both muscles and blood vessels. However, be careful not to hold your breath, which increases abdominal pressure and limits blood flow from your legs to your heart. If you must lift weights, stick to smaller ones and remember to breathe.
- Do bike, inside or outside — Whether you love a good bike ride through the neighborhood or hopping on the elliptical machine at the gym, cycling is a great option for vein health. It’s low-impact, strengthens calf muscles, promotes healthy blood flow in the legs and doesn’t stress your body. You also can practice the same movements while lying down by simply raising your legs at a 90-degree angle and cycling them in the air.
As these five tips illustrate, there are lots of ways to add healthy movement to your life, even when you’re dealing with varicose veins. It’s all about finding the right exercises for you and doing them regularly. For more information on the best exercises to help varicose veins, take a look at the attached resource. It highlights eight of the most effective ways to get moving for vein health, from walking to yoga to swimming. Scroll through and get inspired.North Shore Vascular
Dr. John Golan is Lead Vascular Surgeon at North Shore Vascular, a vascular surgery specialty practice in Northfield, Illinois. Dr. Golan has 30 years of experience treating veins and arteries, and became the first physician in the Chicago area to provide laser treatment for varicose veins (EVLT). He is responsible for leading diagnosis and providing the best treatment for patients.