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Does Extreme Exercise Cause Or Aggravate Varicose Veins?

One of the questions most asked of vein doctors by women and by an increasing number of men is, “Is it safe for me to exercise – and exercise hard – if I have varicose veins or have been told that I am at increased risk of developing them because of my heredity?” This is a good question, so in this article we’ll answer it and try to provide some tips on how to exercise safely if you have vein disease or are at risk for it.

In general, exercise helps to keep your veins healthy

Your veins actually take advantage of the contraction of muscles in your legs to pump blood back to your heart. So most types of aerobic exercise are good for your veins, because they work your calf and leg muscles and thus improve healthy blood flow. This should theoretically be true even if you have a high vein disease risk because close members of your family have had it. And even if you already have varicose veins, doctors recommend regular exercise because it improves your overall circulation. However, some types of exercise may be less good for you than others.

Extreme exercise can put pressure on veins already damaged by disease

Because internal pressure in blood vessels damaged by vein disease may already be high, exercises that involve straining and lifting may increase the pressure even more, and thus put undue strain on your circulation. So there are certain types of exercise that your vein doctor may advise against, such as lifting weights, doing leg squats, crunches, sit-ups, and lunges.

TIP:If you enjoy lifting weights and have a high vein disease risk, you should ask your doctor about wearing compression socks or stockings while exercising to help keep blood flowing “upwards” towards the heart. If you already have varicose veins, ask your doctors about this and other forms of extreme exercise (including competitive running) and follow their advice.

Gentle exercise may be better for those with high vein disease risk

In general, walking is the best exercise for most people. Walking works the muscles in your legs and calves and improves your circulation, but without the continual impact and pounding that happens when you run, especially on hard pavement. So if you want to establish a safe and healthy exercise regimen, a good start is to set yourself a goal of walking at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Your veins and your overall health will thank you for it!

Many other forms of low-impact exercise are also safe if you have varicose veins or high vein disease risk. Bicycling (or riding a stationary bike) or using an elliptical trainer works the calf muscles and improves venous blood flow without placing stress on your joints and bones.

Exercise whilst sitting if need be

If you already have varicose veins and they have become so painful that even walking or mild exercise doesn’t seem feasible, it is important to remember that you can perform healthy circulation exercises even while sitting down. Flexing your calf muscles and rotating your ankles helps to maintain healthy blood flow. Also, while sitting or standing, rocking your feet on the ground from heel to toe activates the calf pumping mechanism and improves circulation. Mild exercise like this won’t get rid of your varicose veins, but it can ease some of the uncomfortable symptoms.

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Seek expert advice

Should you have any doubts about exercising you should ask your doctor for advice.

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalization)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book in for your first consultation and to discuss our treatment program call 1300 535 017 or complete the form below to receive a call back from one of The Vein Institute team.



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The Vein Institute,

227 Elizabeth street, ground floor, Corner of Elizabeth and Bathurst street, Sydney, NSW, 2000


Varicose veins are leg veins which do not pump blood effectively back to the heart and can be often seen as bulging veins just underneath your skin on either leg. These varicose veins have valves in them which are not working effectively so that blood which is meant to be pushed towards the heart, leaks downwards toward the legs. There are other leg veins which are still working, so blood does eventually arrive through other routes to your heart. However, varicose veins do exert added pressure on your circulatory system. Read More.

Endovenous Laser Ablation is a Varicose Veins Laser Treatment performed in our clinic under local anaesthetic. This new procedure is an excellent treatment option for most patients with varicose veins and is considered slightly more effective than surgery but without the need for hospitalization. Read More.

This is an endovenous treatment (meaning treating the vein on the inside). It is generally accepted to be associated with less pain and bruising than endovenous laser ablation. It is a “gold standard” form of treatment for large varicose leg veins treatment as the procedure requires no hospitalization or time of work yet is at least as effective as surgery. Read More.

Venaseal™ or ‘superglue’ treatment by Sapheon is the latest surgery free procedure that uses a medical adhesive to safely and effectively treat varicose veins. Unlike other treatments, Venaseal™ does not require tumescent local anaesthetic around the vein, so there is usually only one local anaesthetic injection. The Venaseal™ non surgical treatment procedure also eliminates the use of heat (or thermal energy) so there is virtually no risk of nerve or skin injury or any major reaction to the anaesthetic. Read More.

Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy allows our doctors to visually guide and monitor a needle to the exact source of the incompetent vein (valve) to be injected. By using ultrasound we can treat more quickly and safely larger and deeper veins that once required more invasive surgical treatment. Foam sclerotherapy is the new form of delivering the sclerosing agent that allows us to treat larger varicose veins that might be unsuccessfully treated with conventional sclerotherapy. The foam solution has the consistency of ‘shaving cream’, which improves treatment in two distinct ways. Read More.

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