Regular exercise is excellent for our general health. But what about varicose veins? Finding the right ways to treat and manage your veins can be a minefield of misinformation but understanding the relationship between varicose veins and exercise is crucial to taking the best care of your legs. So, does exercise help varicose veins or make them worse?
If you don’t currently have varicose veins, exercising can lower the risk of them developing by boosting blood-flow, strengthening the muscles and regulating the circulation.
This isn’t a sure thing, however, as there’s no way to completely prevent varicose veins developing. If you’re already affected by varicose veins, exercise is not a treatment strategy in itself but is still a great way to manage and alleviate the symptoms.
So what should I do?
While the exercise itself won’t bulletproof you against varicose veins or help treat them, it is an excellent and easy way to manage the symptoms and lower your risk. Regularly exercising can also help to reduce the risk of complications in your veins like stroke and DVT.
When exercising, it’s helpful to focus on particular activities to get the most out of each movement for the short and long-term benefit of your veins.
Does exercise help varicose veins?
Here are a few particular exercises and activities to get the best for your veins.
- Walking: Walking regularly is a great way to maintain healthy blood pressure, aid in weight loss and strengthen the vein pumps in your calves. This is great for alleviating swelling and soreness in the legs and easing varicose symptoms. Spending at least 20 minutes a day walking is recommended.
- Swimming: Swimming is excellent for vein health and general health, as it exercises a wide range of muscles while not putting strain or impact on any of the joints. This helps boost circulation during and after activity and strengthens your muscles to support your joints.
- Cycling: Like swimming and walking, cycling is a low impact exercise and allows for more exertion with less pressure on the body. This is particularly good for building up strength in the calves which act as a circulation booster. If you don’t have a bike, try laying on your back and making a cycling motion with your legs in the air to get a similar effect.
- Yoga: Practising regular Yoga can help to alleviate swelling and poor blood-flow, especially with poses that elevate the legs. Don’t push too hard in some of these, and avoid poses that bend the abdominals too much if you’ve got current varicose veins.
- Lunges: Lunges act to essentially manually stimulate the circulation function in your limbs, boosting blood-flow and regulating your circulation more effectively. Spend 5 minutes a day doing lunges, combined with your normal exercise routine, to get the most out of that muscle building.
It’s also important to know what to avoid. Weightlifting can cause excess strain on the lower veins and damage already weakened vessels, so it’s important to speak to your doctor before trying. Running is also a tricky one, as the benefit of boosted circulation can be countered by excess strain on the joints and impaired blood-flow elsewhere.
Sometimes exercise itself won’t be enough to alleviate varicose vein symptoms. If you find your legs are swollen, itchy or painful even after exercise, it’s best to speak to your doctor or a vein specialist to see what options you have for vein treatment.
Seek expert advice
The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive program using non-surgical laser treatment techniques. You can learn more in our Definitive Guide to Varicose Vein Treatment.
The benefits of non-surgical varicose vein treatment 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 981 402. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.