The 6 Jobs Most Likely to Cause Varicose Veins

July 21, 2022
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July 21, 2022 The Vein Institute

Varicose veins pop up for various reasons, from genetics to age to diet. But did you know that your profession can also put you at risk of developing varicose veins?

So, to find out if what you do for a living might compromise your vein health and how to mitigate it, read on.

Why are some jobs more likely to cause varicose veins?

Varicose veins form when your circulatory system undergoes something called Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Basically, this condition develops when your vein valves malfunction. The valves, responsible for stopping the blood travelling to your heart from flowing backwards (AKA refluxing), can’t do their job. And so, all that blood instead starts to pool in your veins, stretching them and turning them varicose.

Illustrations of two veins side-by-side. The one on the left is healthy, with straight walls and working valves, the one on the right is unhealthy with curved walls and malfunctioning valves, such as the one people might develop in professions likely to cause varicose veins

Illustration of two veins side-by-side. The one on the left is healthy, with straight vein walls and working valves. The one on the right is unhealthy, with curved walls and valves not closing all the way and letting blood reflux

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.

 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. Nurse

Nurse reclining on a grey couch and taking a break

Nurse in grey scrubs reclining on a grey couch

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 chronic venous disorders. 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. 

So 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

Mid shot of male chef working in a restaurant kitchen; one of the jobs most likely to develop varicose veins

Mid-shot of male chef working in a restaurant kitchen, stirring something in a saucepan

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 stocking
  • 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

Mid shot of bus driver, a profession likely to get varicose veins

Mid shot of bus driver driving a bus

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 can develop varicose veins for similar reasons to drivers. Sitting at a desk for hours at a time is just as bad for your vein health. So, to help prevent varicose veins from developing, try:

  • 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 cafe
  • 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

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

Construction worker in a hard hat lifting up a heavy pipe

Construction worker in a hard hat lifting up a heavy pipe

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 you in any of these professions?

If you are, it’s important to note that you’re not guaranteed to get varicose veins, and that there may be other factors at play in their formation. 

But, as we do spend a good portion of our lives on the job, it might still be time to change your habits in the interest of your general vein health.

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 1300 535 017 to book your consultation.