Physical activity can certainly bring relief to almost any condition, ranging from joint pain to mental health. Moderate exercise improves blood circulation, making this a logical method for treating varicose veins. But did you know that certain activities can actually trigger varicose vein pain?
If not done correctly or too frequently, being active can make the pain of having varicose veins worse. Here are some activities to be mindful of and what you can do instead.
Standing or Sitting for Prolonged Periods
We start with this one because these are highly “inactive” activities, yet they can cause varicose vein pain. The heart pumps blood to the legs, but the blood’s return to the heart is aided by calf muscle movement. If you go for long periods either standing or sitting, your muscles aren’t moving much. Avoid this by walking around to boost blood circulation, and stretching your legs frequently throughout the day.
When sitting, move your ankles around in a circular motion and up and down to help your circulation and if you’re on your feet a lot, be sure to shift the weight between your legs. You should also stand up on the balls of your feet to flex your calf muscles, which will aid your circulation.
While the movement promotes healthy vein function, running is high-impact, and running too frequently when you have varicose veins can aggravate them and cause swelling. If you’re noticing this happens when you run, try mixing up your workout routine, and replace a few runs with a lower-impact jog instead.
Lifting weights can make your varicose veins hurt because you’re putting increased pressure on your abdomen. This straining can reduce the blood flow from your legs back to your heart, causing the blood to pool. This increases the pressure in your leg veins, which can cause vein damage.
When lifting weights, opt for lighter weights and increase your number of repetitions. Try keeping your legs at the same level as your heart or higher to improve blood flow. A good exercise is the chest fly, where you can lay on your back with your legs straight up. This works the core muscles as well as your chest and shoulder muscles. Avoid holding your breath when you’re lifting weights to maintain adequate oxygen flow, which is necessary for healthy circulation.
So What Can You Do?
The best activities you can do if you have varicose vein pain will help improve circulation without putting added pressure on your veins. These include:
- Wearing supportive shoes (avoid high heels except for special occasions)
- Wearing compression stockings
Basically, be mindful of how much impact you’re putting on your legs and do what you can to reduce pressure and increase blood flow back to the heart. Don’t overdo it, but maintain a balance of physical activity that promotes healthy circulation.
If you have varicose veins and have noticed they are having an increasingly detrimental impact on your life, there are a variety of treatment methods available. Learn about your options with our guide, Your Options for Varicose Vein Treatment.