Varicose veins are more than a cosmetic issue. The pain caused by this disease can easily disrupt daily life, and working out with varicose veins may seem impossible. However, exercise improves circulation throughout the body and can help relieve some of the pain. So, if you’re avoiding exercise because of painful veins, you could be harming your blood vessel, cardiovascular, and overall health.
One of the major causes of varicose veins is spending too much time sitting or standing. Fortunately, there are several actions you can perform to alleviate some of the pain associated with varicose veins and improve your overall health.
It may not sound like much, but lacing up your shoes and hitting the road for a walk can be extremely advantageous. Walking is a low-impact workout that can help build strength in the calf muscles and improve circulation throughout your body. Walking just 30 minutes per day, five days a week, can help relieve pain, strengthen bones, boost immunity, improve sleep, and benefit your overall health in several other ways. Taking a brisk walk can increase the heart rate even more without causing further health risks, helping you burn more calories more quickly.
Bike riding is an exercise that’s as fun as it is healthy. Hopping on your bike and cruising is a simple way to improve circulation while strengthening the calves, buttocks, and more. Using cardio machines like an elliptical or stationary bike at the gym allows you to apply more or less resistance as desired. This way, if you feel pain when working out, you can decrease the resistance to reach a more comfortable level of exertion.
Many of the exercises that relieve varicose veins can be done comfortably and quickly at home. Building calf muscle strength helps your body’s circulation, and performing calf raises is an ideal way to do that. Stand up straight and rise to your toes, then lower yourself back down slowly. Repeat the same movement as many times as you feel comfortable.
Leg lifts are another simple exercise that can be accomplished at home, even while lying down. Try lying on one side with your legs on top of each other. Raise your top leg into the air, then hold it for several seconds before lowering it back down. Perform this same action as many times as is comfortable, then switch to the opposite side and repeat the movement.
Low-impact yoga, such as in a beginner’s course, can help exercise the calf muscles without causing too much strain. Yoga can also improve strength and balance, promoting superior circulation and general health. Perform yoga poses that elevate the legs to help blood flow back to the heart and diminish some of the pressure placed on the veins. The stretches will also help decrease swelling in the legs, alleviating further leg pain.
Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise for improving strength, circulation, and heart health. Water supports the body, allowing you to build muscle and burn calories without straining the veins.
Lunges performed by standing with the knees and feet together. Then, take a significant step forward with your right foot and lower yourself toward the floor. It’s important to bend your right knee, keep your torso upright, engage the glutes, and keep the left leg straight. Return to the original position and repeat the same movement with the opposite leg. Continue the action as long as it is comfortable, alternating between the right and left legs.
Bicycles kicks are another exercise that can be performed at home while lying down. Lay down on the floor with your back facing down. Lift your legs into the air with the knees bent, and pedal like you’re riding a bicycle. This motion will improve circulation in the legs while working the core as well.
Rocking is similar to performing calf raises but includes an extra step. Stand up straight with your heels together, and the toes pointed out, then rise onto the toes. Slowly lower yourself back down, then rock back onto the heels and lift your toes off the ground. Return to the starting position, then repeat this action as many times as you feel comfortable.
Avoid Strenuous Exercise
While exercising offers many benefits to those with varicose veins, it’s important not to perform strenuous practices that can further harm the veins. Activities like running or weightlifting can put too much strain or pressure on the legs. All of the stress on your veins can worsen vein issues and adversely affect your health. If you do feel a need to weightlift, be sure to use lighter weights, wear compression socks, and walk or bike afterward to increase circulation.
It’s important to exercise as long as you are comfortable and not push yourself too far. Consult with your vein specialist before beginning your new routine to ensure your workout regimen won’t cause additional damage to your veins or health.
Exercising with varicose veins isn’t just possible; it’s something you should aim to include in your daily life. In addition to relieving some of the pain associated with your varicose veins, working out can improve sleep, strengthen your memory, lower the risk of falling, elevate your mood and provide a variety of other health benefits.
Author bio: 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.