Vein doctors are often asked by their patients about exercise – can exercise help reduce, or cure, varicose veins? Or does exercise make varicose veins even worse?
If you already suffer from varicose veins then there are exercises which may ease your symptoms, however unfortunately exercise alone cannot cure varicose veins.
For those looking for prevention options, the good news is that regular physical activity can reduce your chances of developing varicose veins.
Generally, exercise will help keep veins healthy
Most types of aerobic exercise – particularly walking and running – are great for your veins because they work the calf and leg muscles, improving blood flow back up to the heart.
Walking is especially recommended for people who suffer from varicose veins, due to it being a low-impact workout. The simple movements help strengthen calf muscles without putting strain on your body.
Is lifting weights bad for varicose veins?
Exercise is one of the most effective measures of preventing vein disease however if you are worried that lifting weights will cause you to develop varicose veins then it is handy to know that unless you are lifting very heavy weight, or performing compound movements such as one-rep exercises, it’s unlikely that damage will occur.
For those who are experiencing extreme symptoms from vein disease or varicose veins, your doctor may advise you cut-back on lifting heavy weight as it could put additional pressure on your already weakened blood vessels. Compression socks and stockings are an option and should be discussed with your doctor.
Which exercises are good for varicose veins?
Although exercise cannot cure varicose veins, it can alleviate pain and improve overall vein health.
- Yoga: as well as strengthening muscles, there are many yoga poses which involve elevating your legs – by elevating your legs you are aiding your body in draining the blood back to your heart, this assists in improving vein health and also alleviates pain. Be advised that there are some prolonged abdominal yoga poses which may not be recommended.
- Walking: a low-impact exercise which allows you to stretch and strengthen calf muscles, walking is highly recommended both for the prevention and treatment of vein disease.
- Running: another way of stretching and strengthening calf muscles, running can be very beneficial for vein health. However running can also put strain on your joints and make varicose vein symptoms worse.
- Cycling: stationary bikes provide a low-impact cardio option, nonetheless in some cases intensive cycling or extended periods of time crouched over handlebars can increase abdominal pressure and reduce the blood flow to your legs, which can exacerbate varicose vein symptoms.
- Mountain Climbers: a simple exercise to do from home, Mountain Climbers build strength and endurance while improving blood flow between your heart and legs.
- Ankle rotations: these are a really easy exercise to do while sitting down, so are great for office workers and people who spend a lot of time travelling. 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. For more exercises you can do while sitting down, see our article 7 best exercises for vein health while travelling.
The above are examples of how exercise can assist in improving vein health, the information is general in nature. Please speak with your doctor before participating in any exercise.
For more information on varicose veins, check out these articles:
- Varicose veins, causes and treatment
- The difference between varicose veins and spider veins
- Can varicose veins come back after treatment?
- Varicose veins and pregnancy
- 5 things men should know about varicose veins
Seek expert 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 hospitalisation)
- No general anaesthetic
- Medicare rebates apply
- No downtime or time away from work
To book a consultation and 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.