Can Your Workouts Lead to Varicose Veins?
Has this ever happened to you, after a good workout session, you spot bulging blue veins on the surface of your legs?
Yup, you’ve guessed it right. It’s probably varicose veins, the swollen and enlarged veins caused by poor blood flow in your legs.
Although a common condition, the appearance of varicose veins can become a worry for many people, especially those that live an active lifestyle.
So, are your workouts to blame for these vein issues? The short answer: it depends.
Keep reading to learn how your workouts are related to varicose veins and the best exercises you can do to prevent them!
Can Exercising Cause Varicose Veins?
Exercise is related to varicose veins. However, no scientific evidence suggests that it directly causes its development.
So what’s causing your varicose veins? There are a host of factors to consider such as:
- Being 50 years old and over
- If you’re a female
- If you are overweight or obese
- Doing activities that require prolonged sitting or standing
Studies have shown that exercising proves to be beneficial for those with varicose veins. In fact, many vein experts recommend at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity 3-4 times a week.
Here’s why exercising can prevent and improve the appearance of varicose veins:
- Promotes healthy blood circulation
- Strengthens the muscles in your legs
- Helps you achieve your desired weight
However, not all exercises are good for varicose veins.
Working too hard on your leg or calf muscles can actually do you more harm than good. It’s best to avoid exercises that put too much pressure on your leg veins.
Exercises for Varicose Veins
Varicose veins appear where there is insufficient blood flow in your legs.
Instead of being able to flow properly towards the heart, the blood tends to pool in the vein, causing it to swell, bulge, or twist.
Working out and staying active has many benefits. But for those with varicose veins, there are exercises that are safe and ones that you should avoid.
Here are our recommendations!
Which Exercises are Safe to Do When You Have Varicose Veins
Regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes every other day is a piece of advice you hear often from health professionals.
If you want to stay fit while preventing the appearance or the worsening of varicose veins, aim for low-impact exercises.
Here are the safest exercises you can add to your routine:
Walking can improve blood circulation in your legs. It’s a great low-impact activity, especially for busy individuals and senior citizens.
Take a walk in your park or maybe a brisk walk for your commute to work. Whatever activity you can do to keep your step counts high will also help with your varicose veins.
- Stationary Cycling
If you want to get your endurance on, try switching your cardio routines with a stationary bike instead.
Regular cycling gets your calf muscles stronger to promote healthy blood flow in your legs.
Stationary bikes also help to avoid injuries with its low-impact exercise that’s gentle on your joints.
- Leg Lifts
When you have varicose veins, it’s important to keep your leg muscles strong. You can achieve this by doing strength training exercises that focus on these muscle groups.
Doing leg lifts are particularly helpful for those with varicose veins.
These exercises target leg muscles and assist with blood circulation. Not only that, but the elevation can also alleviate other varicose vein symptoms.
Which Exercises to Avoid to Prevent Varicose Veins
Alternatively, it’s advised that you stay away from strenuous and restrictive activities, such as:
Are you an aggressive runner who tends to pound the pavement?
Your go-to workout can not only cause damage to your joints and cartilage, but it can also cause your veins to swell and aggravate varicose veins.
If you don’t want to give up running, try to jog gently on softer surfaces, like dirt trails or a local track, rather than asphalt or concrete.
It will reduce the overall strain on your legs and veins.
Any exercise that increases pressure on the abdomen can restrict the blood flow from your legs to your heart. It can also increase pressure on the veins in your legs.
To mitigate the issue, try doing more reps and lifting lighter weights.
Ask a trainer for the proper breathing techniques to make sure you are getting adequate oxygen to your muscles while lifting
Do you spend an extended period of time crouched over your handlebars when cycling? This can also increase abdominal pressure and reduce the blood flow to your legs.
So, when you ride your bike, be mindful of your posture.
- Bodyweight Exercise
Squats, sit-ups, crunches, lunges, and even yoga and Pilates (when practicing certain postures) can exacerbate varicose veins due to prolonged abdominal pressure.
If they’re part of your daily workout, do more rounds of fewer reps or hold postures for less time. Make sure to take a break between sets.
Although many forms of exercise can cause increased pressure on your legs, keeping yourself active is a part of a healthy lifestyle and is good for your veins.
So, don’t stop working out – just be mindful and stretch your legs and abs regularly.
If you can, wear compression socks while working out. They will squeeze the calf muscles around the veins to help the blood move more easily back toward the heart.
Top Tips to Prevent and Get Rid of Varicose Veins
Remember, exercises are not the lone cause why you may have varicose veins. Although it can be related, other considerations can put you at higher risk.
Risk factors such as age, gender, and family history can’t be controlled. However, there are some other ways you can reduce your risk of having varicose veins.
Here are a few simple tips you can follow:
- Avoid standing or sitting for too long
- Wearing compression socks or stockings
- Having a normal and healthy weight
- Wearing loose and comfortable clothing and shoes
If you are experiencing varicose veins that have become troublesome, we urge you to speak to our vein specialists.
Our expert vein doctors will find the best varicose vein treatment that best suits your needs.
Vascular & Interventional Specialists of Prescott was formed in 2010 by a group of subspecialty radiologists that perform numerous minimally-invasive, low-risk procedures using the tools of our trade for guidance—x-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI. The team’s goal is to educate patients and medical communities, while also providing safe and compassionate health care, with rapid recovery times and low risk of complications.