Jobs That Increase Your Varicose Veins Risk

September 6, 2023 The Vein Institute

Varicose veins pop up for various reasons, from genetics to age to diet. But did you know that there are certain jobs that can increase your varicose vein risk? 


Why are some jobs more likely to cause varicose veins?

Reflux, CVI, and varicose veins are now known to be caused by a variety of factors, like genetics, age, and certain injuries. They can also be caused (and exacerbated) by long periods of sitting, heavy lifting, and standing. For instance, a  2005 Danish study of nearly 10,000 workers found that “prolonged standing at work constitutes an excess risk of hospital treatment due to varicose vein, and accounts for more than one-fifth of all cases of working age.” A 2015 study on nurses from three general hospitals indicated the same increased risk. A 2012 study concluded that “…the odds ratio of varicose veins was significantly high for prolonged standing for male and female workers.”

 Hence, professions that:

  • Leave you sitting for several hours a day, several days a week
  • Standing for long hours, several days a week
  • Or doing a lot of heavy lifting day-in, day out

May not be good for your vein health. Such professions include:


1. Nursing

Nurse reclining on a grey couch and taking a break

Nurse in grey scrubs reclining on a grey couch

So, why do nurses get varicose veins? Ironically, despite all the health risks associated with sitting, studies found that long hours of standing for several days a week poses a significantly higher risk of developing bulging veins. So while nurses benefit from loose-fitting scrubs and comfortable shoes that won’t constrict blood flow, they do have to stay on their feet. And sometimes remain mostly stagnant for 12-hour shifts.

When you do so, your leg veins have to fight the pull of gravity without getting much assistance from the surrounding muscle. And when you work like this for several shifts a week, many weeks of the year, the effects really start to stack up. 

To give your veins some help, try walking around whenever possible, especially after a long period of standing. During a break, sit or lay down and elevate your legs. You might also try getting some compression stockings to help boost the circulation in your legs.


2. Chef

Working in a kitchen is also a job likely to cause varicose veins, for similar reasons to nursing. You’re standing and prepping and cooking for hours on end with minimal movement. To mitigate your risk of developing varicose veins, you might try:

  • Wearing compression stockings
  • Making sure your shoes have supportive soles and aren’t too tight
  • Shifting from foot to foot (if it’s safe to do so)
  • Going for a walk, to the gym, or taking a yoga class before or after work to get your blood pumping again
  • Getting a massage when you get the chance. It will help improve your circulation and knead out the tension in your muscles caused by the stress of the job.


3. Driver

Whether you’re a taxi driver or a long-haul trucker, you are relatively safe from standing. However, you’ll be stuck behind the wheel for hours on end, which is also bad for your veins. When you’re sitting, you’re adding pressure to the back of your thighs, which makes it harder for blood to flow through that area. 

On top of that, if you’re sitting still (aside from occasionally moving your foot from pedal to pedal), your muscles aren’t acting as pumps. Hence, the extra help your muscles provide your veins gets taken out of the equation. 

So, we’d recommend getting out of the car and walking around whenever you have a break. And if your breaks are few and far between, try some sitting exercises when you’re stuck in traffic or put your feet up on the dashboard to reduce the strain of gravity on your veins.


4. Office worker

Office workers also typically sit for several hours a day. To keep your veins happy and healthy, try the following:

  • Getting up every once in a while to grab a snack or some coffee
  • Sitting exercises
  • Taking your lunch to go and going for a little walk instead of sitting at a café
  • Standing up when you need something instead of rolling around on your office chair
  • Parking a little further from the office, if possible
  • Resting your feet on another chair or stool
  • Don’t wear too-tight shoes or clothes. These make it significantly harder for your blood to go from point A to point B

Note: there currently is no evidence that crossing your legs causes varicose veins.

5. Teacher

Wide-shot of a teacher teaching a class; one of the jobs most likely to cause varicose veins

Wide shot of a teacher teaching a class

If you’re a teacher, you know your day has a roughly even mix of sitting and standing, what with presenting to your class or grading papers and drafting lesson plans. But, even with a perfect 50-50 split between sitting and standing, teaching is still one of the jobs most likely to cause varicose veins.

That’s because staying static for too long, in general, is bad for your circulation, making your veins work harder without the support of surrounding muscle. To keep your veins in good working order, you might try:

  • Wearing compression stockings
  • Walking around or doing some stretches between classes
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator when you have to move from floor to floor
  • Doing some squats in the break room
  • Pacing when teaching your students


6. Construction worker

In a terrible combination of heavy lifting and standing, construction work can also be bad for your veins. When you’re standing, you put stress on your leg veins. When you’re lifting heavy construction materials or tools, you strain your leg veins further, as well as your lumbar and abdominal muscles. 

With your lumbar and abs working overtime to support your spine, you strain the veins in those areas, making it harder for blood to pass between your legs and heart. So for construction workers, we’d recommend:

  • Walking around the construction site as much as possible
  • Doing some stretches during your breaks
  • Getting some compression stockings to relieve your leg veins
  • Investing in a lumbar belt to take some of the pressure off your abs and lumbar muscles
  • Going to the gym or taking a Pilates class to strengthen your core


Are any profession safe from varicose veins?

There are some active jobs (like personal trainer or yoga instructor) that are safe. But In truth, the modern working world isn’t all that geared toward vein protection. Most industries (including healthcare, aviation, hospitality, and retail) will either have you on your feet or sitting for long stretches.

Of course, as we outlined, you won’t have to abandon your career. You can protect your veins enough by taking a few precautions, like compression and taking breaks to wander or elevate your legs. 

And if you’re experiencing swelling, burning, or itching in your legs after a long day at work, it might be time to consult with specialists. 

Make sure your veins are in good health. Call us at 13 VEINs (that’s 13 83467) to book your consultation.