Running and varicose veins

Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged or stretched out due to blood that pools in the legs. In addition to making your veins bulge, they can cause the following symptoms:

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  • Tired, Achy Legs
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Nighttime Leg Cramps
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Ulcers or Sores

Since varicose veins are primarily caused by inactivity in the legs over a long period of time, getting out there and doing some exercises can help prevent and alleviate the symptoms associated with varicose veins.

Contents

How Does Exercise Help Prevent Varicose Veins?

While there’s no way to completely prevent varicose veins, regular exercise can help reduce the chances that you’ll get them. Simply changing your sitting or standing position regularly can improve your blood circulation, which helps reduce the amount of blood swelling the veins in your legs.

Exercise can increase your body’s ability to pump blood up the leg back toward the heart. It also helps keep your weight down, which further decreases your chances of getting varicose veins. Walking is a good choice, as are low-impact activities, such as swimming and biking.

What Exercises Prevent Varicose Veins?

If you already have varicose veins, exercise can keep them from getting worse and also help alleviate pain and discomfort. Generally, low-impact exercises are best, and include the following:

Walking or Running

Walking just 30 minutes a day for five days a week can yield good benefits. If you run, try to find a grassy surface or synthetic track to minimize the stress on your joints.

Leg Lifts

Sit or lie on your back while sticking your feet straight out. Lift one leg at a time up, holding it in the air. Slowly lower it down and repeat with the other leg.

Bicycling or Bicycle Legs

Riding a bike or stationary bike is also helpful. If you don’t have access to any kind of bike, you can try this bicycle legs exercise. While lying on your back, put your legs in the air, bending them at the knee. Pedal them slowly as if you are bicycling. Try both legs at once, or alternate one at a time.

Lunges

Stand with your legs apart. Step forward slowly, bending your knee and making sure to keep your knee directly above your ankle. Hold it, then slowly straighten your leg and step back to your original position. Repeat with the other leg. While standing with your legs straight, rise up on your tiptoes and then lower back down. Repeat.

Rocking Your Feet

While you’re sitting or standing, rock your feet back and forth from heel to toe. This can be done at any time and is also helpful if health conditions prevent you from trying other forms of exercise.

Seek Varicose Vein Treatment

Exercise can be helpful when dealing with varicose veins, but you may also need treatment to achieve better results. Texas Endovascular offers minimally invasive, in-office procedures that don’t require general anesthesia or sedation. Several different treatment options are available for varicose veins, and each requires little or no recovery time. In fact, most patients are able to return to work the same day. We’ll choose the procedure that will yield the best results in your particular case, improving your comfort level as well as appearance.

Contact Texas Endovascular at (713) 575-3686 today for more information about the best exercises and treatments for varicose veins and to schedule an appointment!

10 Varicose Veins Myths

If you have ropy, blue blood vessels in your legs, you may think that they’re unsightly but don’t cause any overt symptoms. Yet for some people, varicose veins can cause skin damage and, even worse, lead to dangerous blood clots.

They’re incredibly common: Varicose veins affect about one in four U.S. adults, or about 22 million women and 11 million men between ages 40 and 80.

Your leg veins face an uphill battle as they carry blood from your toes to your heart. Small flaps, or valves, within these vessels prevent blood from getting backed up on this journey, and the pumping action of your leg muscles helps push the blood along.

But if these valves weaken, blood can pool — primarily in the veins of your legs — increasing pressure in the veins. As a result of this increased pressure, your body tries to widen the veins to compensate, causing them to bulge and thicken, and leading to the characteristic twisted appearance of varicose veins.

To help you learn the facts about these enlarged veins, we’ve set the record straight on 10 sometimes confusing pieces of information, including who gets varicose veins and why, health problems they can cause, and treatment options.

Myth 1: Varicose Veins Are Only a Cosmetic Issue

“A lot of people are told by primary care doctors or others that varicose veins are a cosmetic issue only, when oftentimes they can be much more than that,” says Kathleen D. Gibson, MD, a vascular surgeon practicing in Bellevue, Washington.

“A significant percentage of patients with varicose veins will eventually develop symptoms,” says Pablo Sung Yup Kim, MD, assistant professor of surgery at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City. “The most common include dull achiness, heaviness, throbbing, cramping, and swelling of the legs.” Other symptoms include severe dryness and itchiness of the skin near varicose veins. People with varicose veins are also at an increased risk for a dangerous type of blood clot known as deep vein thrombosis.

Other not-so-common signs and symptoms, found in less than 10 percent of patients, include bleeding, skin discoloration, skin thickening, and ulcer formation — all due to varicose veins, says Kim. Unfortunately, once you have skin damage, it’s usually permanent.

“It’s very important to seek medical advice if you have varicose veins and experience symptoms — before changes in the skin are irreversible,” he says.

Myth 2: Varicose Veins Are an Inevitable Sign of Aging

Aging definitely worsens varicose veins, though not everyone gets them. “It’s a degenerative process that gets worse and more prominent as we age,” says Dr. Gibson. But young people can get varicose veins, too. While the average age of patients treated in Gibson’s practice is 52, she and her colleagues have treated patients as young as 13.

If you’ve got varicose veins, it may run in your family. “The cause of varicose veins is primarily genetic,” Gibson explains.

Changes in hormone levels also come into play as a risk factor for varicose veins. “Your risk can be made worse, especially by pregnancy,” she adds.

Myth 3: Varicose Veins Are Strictly a Women’s Issue

While varicose veins are more common in women, men get them, too. About one-quarter of adult women have some visible varicose veins, compared to 10 to 15 percent of men.

Steve Hahn, 51, of Kirkland, Washington, first noticed in his twenties that he had varicose veins in his left leg after he sprained his ankle playing basketball. When he injured his knee about 10 years ago, he noticed that the varicose veins had become more extensive.

“After about five years of thinking about it, I finally had them treated,” he says. “Both of my legs felt very heavy all of the time at this point, as opposed to just after walking a golf course or playing tennis or basketball.”

After treatment, Hahn says, “I feel like I have new legs.” The heaviness is gone, as is the ankle swelling, which he didn’t know was related to the varicose veins. And as a side benefit, he adds, he looks better in shorts.

Myth 4: Running Can Cause Varicose Veins

Exercise — including running — is usually a good thing for your veins. “Exercise is always good for the circulation,” Kim says. “Walking or running can lead to more calf-muscle pumping and more blood returning to the heart.”

“Being a runner doesn’t cause varicose veins,” adds Gibson, though there’s controversy about whether exercise makes them worse or not.” Compression stockings can help prevent blood from pooling in your lower legs during exercise. “For patients who haven’t had their varicose veins treated and are running, I recommend compression. When you’re done running and are cooling off, elevate your legs,” she says.

Myth 5: Varicose Veins Are Always Visible

While the varicose veins you notice are right at the surface of the skin, they occur deeper in the body, too, where you can’t see them. “It really depends on the makeup of the leg,” Gibson says. “If you’ve got a lot of fatty tissue between the muscle and the skin, you may not see them. Sometimes surface veins are the tip of the iceberg and there’s a lot going on underneath.”

Myth 6: Standing on the Job Causes Varicose Veins

If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet a lot — as a teacher or flight attendant, for example — you may be more bothered by varicose veins. But the jury’s still out on whether prolonged standing actually causes varicose veins. “People tend to notice their varicose vein symptoms more when they’re standing or sitting,” Gibson explains.

RELATED: Steer Clear of These 9 Artery and Vein Diseases

Myth 7: Making Lifestyle Changes Won’t Help

Your lifestyle does matter, because obesity can worsen varicose veins, and getting down to a healthy weight can help ease symptoms. Becoming more physically active is also helpful. “Wearing compression stockings, doing calf-strengthening exercises, and elevating your legs can all improve or prevent varicose veins,” says Andrew F. Alexis, MD, MPH, chairman of the dermatology department at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai Roosevelt in New York City.

Myth 8: Surgery Is Your Only Treatment Option

The only treatment available for varicose veins used to be a type of surgery called stripping, in which the vein is surgically removed from the body. That’s no longer the case. While this procedure is still the most commonly used varicose vein treatment worldwide, according to Gibson, minimally invasive procedures that don’t leave scars have become much more popular in the United States.

Endothermal ablation, for example, involves using a needle to deliver heat to your vein, causing it to close and no longer function. While the procedure doesn’t leave a scar, it can be painful, and you may have to undergo sedation before being treated. “You have to have a series of injections along the vein to numb it up; otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to tolerate the heat,” Gibson explains. You may need to take a day off from work to recover, as well as a few days off from the gym.

Some medications, called sclerosing agents, close a vein by causing irritation. Others are adhesives that seal a vein shut and don’t require the area to be numbed. Gibson and her colleagues have helped develop some of the new technologies and products used in treating varicose veins, including adhesives.

Milder varicose veins can be treated by dermatologists with non-invasive approaches, such as laser therapy and sclerotherapy, says Dr. Alexis. “For more severe cases where symptoms may be involved, seeing a vascular surgeon for surgical treatment options is advised.”

Although treatment for varicose veins means losing some veins, you have plenty of others in your body that can take up the slack, explains Gibson. “The majority of the blood flow in veins in the leg is not on the surface at all; it’s in the deep veins within the muscle,” she says. “Those deep veins … are easily able to take over for any veins that we remove on the surface.”

Myth 9: Recovery After Varicose Vein Treatments Is Difficult

Newer treatments have quicker recovery times. “These procedures can be performed in an office within 20 to 30 minutes with no recovery time. Patients can usually return to work or daily activities on the same day,” Kim says.

Myth 10: Varicose Veins Can Be Cured

Treatments are effective, but they aren’t a cure, Gibson says. Sometimes, varicose veins can make a repeat appearance after treatment. “What I tell my patients is it’s kind of like weeding a garden,” she says. “We clear them all out, but that doesn’t mean there’s never going to be another dandelion popping out.”

Friday, January 3rd, 2020

We’re slowly becoming a nation of sedentary people. Take a minute to think about how much time you spend sitting at work, in front of the TV, or in your car; it starts to add up.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) showed that Americans move far less than we did just 20 years ago.
Currently, 52% of women and 43% of men report participating in no leisure-time activities.Add to that the fact that almost 86% of American workers are sitting at their full-time jobs, and you have a population that’s getting almost no exercise.

Instead, we’re on our digital devices, watching television, or sitting and eating — all of which contribute to obesity and heart disease, as well as varicose and spider veins.

The Best Exercises for Varicose and Spider Veins, as well as a Healthy Heart

A recent study showed that people who were most sedentary had a 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events. That’s scary, considering the average adult spends 50 to 60 percent of their time in sedentary pursuits. So besides helping to prevent varicose veins, a solid exercise program will also help you maintain a healthy weight and stave off heart disease and other chronic diseases.

You don’t have to spend hours in the gym, either. Even a few minutes of exercise every half-hour or so can help get your blood pumping, strengthen your leg muscles to support your veins, and help keep you fit.

If you want to know how to prevent varicose veins on legs from showing, take a look at examples of the best exercises for varicose veins and good health.

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1. Walking

Walking is the simplest of all exercises since it requires no specialized equipment. It’s one of the best exercises for varicose veins because it is so simple. You can even do it barefoot if you live close to the beach or a grassy park.

The easiest thing to do is to get up and take a stroll around the block or even just the perimeter of your building if you work in an office. Set a timer on your phone or computer to remind you to move every half-hour or so for maximum effectiveness.

Short five-minute walks every 30 minutes can be more effective than longer daily walks for vein health, so don’t worry about penciling out big chunks of time for exercise.

2. Marching in Place

If you work at a desk job and can’t go for walk out-of-doors or even around the office every half-hour without enduring curious stares, then just march in place beside your desk.

Marching in place will still get your heart pumping and blood moving. Lift your knees high and swing your arms for maximum cardiovascular benefit.
If you’re feeling like you need a challenge, you can grab a light weight in each hand and do biceps curls or overhead presses while you march to tone your arms.

3. Calf Flexors

If you spend a lot of time at a desk or are traveling on planes or public transportation for long periods, try this easy exercise to tighten your calf muscles. Put your feet flat on the floor, then slowly raise your toes, stretching your calf muscle. Now, lower your toes to the floor and raise your heels, repeating for 30 seconds to one minute.

You may even find the rocking motion soothing or meditative. Think of it as a mini-leg massage.

4. Running

One of the best leg exercises for varicose veins, running is a fantastic circulation booster — and it doesn’t take much to get your heart rate up and your blood flowing. Even a 20-minute jog in the morning or at lunchtime can provide muscle- and heart-strengthening benefits.
It is high-impact, so if you have joint problems or other physical limitations, check with your doctor before starting a running program.

5. Bicycling

Cycling is one of the best exercises for varicose veins. Not only is bicycling low-impact, it’s a great way to strengthen the leg and calf muscles to help support your veins. You can take your bike for a spin around the block, or get a stationary bike and ride in air-conditioned comfort at home or at the gym.

You can reap the benefits of bicycling even without a bike – just lie on your back on a towel or mat and pedal your legs in the air. Do this as long as you can in one-minute intervals interspersed with 15 seconds of rest.
As with all aerobic exercises, be sure to stay hydrated.

6. Toe Flexes

Similar to calf flexors, the toe flex is an easy exercise to do anywhere. At home, lie on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you.
Point your toes forward as far as you can, then back. Do this rhythmically for 20 times per leg.

7. Tippy Toes

Nothing could be simpler than this calf-strengthening exercise that also helps prevent legs cramps and muscle spasms in the leg as well.
To do this, stand on your tiptoes, pause, then lower your heels to the ground.
Repeat to fatigue.

8. Squats

Squats are so easy that you can do them in the privacy of your cubicle or office. If you’re at home, you can do a few sets while on the phone, while cooking, or even watching television.

To do a proper squat, start with your legs shoulder-width apart.
Now, slowly lower your butt as if you are going to sit back on a chair.

Keep your back straight and your head facing forward.
When you get to a seated position, slowly reverse the process until you’re standing again. If you need extra support, do it against a wall.

9. Stretching

Even simple stretching reaps big benefits for your veins and your core strength.
Side bends build core strength which is good for posture and stabilizing the body during exercise, which in turn reduces risk of injury.
Quadriceps stretches performed on one leg have a balance component which over time can reduce risk of falling, and also build core strength.
All stretches can help increase circulation and strengthen muscles that support your veins.

The Spider Veins Exercise You Should be Doing

What are Varicose and Spider Veins?

A varicose vein is any enlarged, twisted, bulging vein, although they are more common in your legs and feet. Spider veins, which are smaller and closer to the surface of your skin, are just a milder version of varicose veins.
For some people, these veins are just a cosmetic concern. For others, they cause pain, heaviness, aching, bleeding, and itching.
They can be a sign of a worsening medical condition, like venous insufficiency, heart disease, peripheral artery disease, and others.
You should, therefore, should see a doctor to talk about spider or varicose vein treatments if you are under medical care for any of these conditions.

Even if you don’t see visible varicose or spider veins on your legs, doesn’t mean you don’t have underlying venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease. For some people, vein disease may cause them to experience painful symptoms, while others may not feel anything at all. If you’re interested in learning more about vein disease, click the button below to take our 1-minute symptom quiz.

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Causes of Varicose and Spider Veins

Varicose and spider veins are signs that the valves in your veins are not closing properly.
A vein’s job is to carry blood to your heart so your arteries can re-circulate it back into your tissues.
When veins become stretched, weak, or suffer a mechanical function, they’re unable to do this job well. Then, blood pools in the veins, causing them to enlarge.
There are several common causes of varicose/spider veins.

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolonged Standing or Sitting

As you age, your veins lose elasticity, causing them to stretch and the valves to weaken, allowing the blood to pool in your veins.
If you’re a woman, the hormonal changes of pregnancy and menopause cause vein walls to relax, contributing to varicosities. In fact, menopausal women commonly seek hormone replacement therapy to combat varicose veins. If you’re obese, your weight puts extra pressure on the valves in your veins, causing them to work harder and wear out sooner.

In addition, a sedentary lifestyle, or a job where you stand or sit for long periods, can contribute to a restriction of blood flow. So, if you’re wondering, “Does exercise help spider veins?” — the answer is a resounding “yes!”

Which Exercise For Varicose Veins Will You Commit To?

Now you’ve got a variety of exercises for varicose veins that will suit any budget, time constraint, or environment. But you must do the one exercise that is necessary for good vein health — the one that gets you moving. Choose the varicose and spider veins exercise you enjoy most so you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

Even if you have physical limitations, just stand up and move for two minutes every half hour during an eight-hour workday. This means a 32-minute increase in activity every day. Over time, this really adds up. In fact, you’ll have boosted your activity by two and a half hours every week if you keep accomplishing this tiny little change.

In fact, this tiny little addition to your day is enough to begin to offset the negative health outcomes we incur due to long periods of inactivity. It’s enough to strengthen your leg muscles to support your veins, boost your circulation, increase your mood, and lower your risk of chronic disease. Once you get going and start seeing the changes in your body, in the way your legs feel, and in your vein health, you’ll be inspired to keep going.

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Myths About Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are relatively common among both men and women, but there are many misconceptions about the condition and treatment options. Beaumont interventional radiologists weigh in on some common myths about varicose veins:

Myth: Varicose veins aren’t dangerous, they’re just a cosmetic issue.

Varicose veins can be more than just unsightly. They can cause pain, swelling, restless leg syndrome and tired, aching legs – symptoms that can directly affect daily activities and quality of life. Untreated varicose veins can be dangerous because the blood that is pooling in these veins can clot. When varicose veins clot, the condition is called superficial phlebitis and it is usually very painful, but not necessarily dangerous. However, according to a recent study, the condition can progress into a deep vein clot known as deep vein thrombosis. DVT is dangerous and requires immediate medical attention.

Varicose veins can also be the first stage of a more serious disease called chronic venous disease, often characterized by a brawny skin discoloration, typically of the calf and ankle. The blood pooling in the varicose veins can leak into the tissue of the lower leg and ankle, resulting in darkening and hardening of the skin and potentially causing ulcers of the skin that are difficult to heal.

Myth: There’s no way to prevent varicose veins.

Although venous insufficiency is an inherited condition, some people may be able to prevent the onset of varicose veins. Preventative measures include:

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • exercising regularly to strengthen the calf muscle
  • elevating the feet while sitting
  • wearing support hose

Varicose veins may also be prevented by avoiding clothing that constricts your waist, groin or legs, staying clear of shoes with high heels and not crossing your legs while sitting. It should be noted though, that while these measures may help prevent varicose veins in some cases, they may only slow the onset of the condition in individuals who are particularly susceptible.

Myth: Varicose vein treatment is painful.

The advanced varicose vein treatments available through Beaumont can be done with local anesthesia in an office setting, usually in under an hour and with only mild discomfort. Performed under ultrasound guidance, laser or radiofrequency saphenous ablation treatments cause the abnormal saphenous vein to close, allowing the body to automatically re-route the blood to other healthy veins. Unlike surgical interventions such as vein stripping, vein ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that does not involve general anesthesia or even stitches.

Myth: Insurance doesn’t cover varicose vein treatment.

When pain and swelling is associated with varicose veins, this is a medical condition and treatment is most often covered by insurance. Laser vein ablation and radiofrequency ablation are covered by the majority of health insurance companies. To find out what your coverage is, check your policy and call your insurance provider.

Are your aching legs slowing you down? You could be a candidate for vein ablation services through Beaumont Vein Centers and other options close to home.

News and Stories

We asked Vascular Surgeon, C. Phifer Nicholson, MD to explain the importance of having varicose veins evaluated and treated.
If you are living with bulging or discolored leg veins, it’s important to have them evaluated and treated. But this isn’t a matter of vanity, they can be dangerous. As a vascular surgeon, I see patients with all types of vein conditions. The two most common leg problems are spider veins and varicose veins.
Let’s look at each condition, and why it is important to have them checked out.

Spider Veins

You can recognize these thin veins by their bluish or reddish color and web-like shape. They are typically two millimeters or less in diameter, usually are not painful and rarely cause complications. Occasionally, they may bleed. Spider veins are easily corrected and there are several treatment options, including injection therapy and laser treatment.

Varicose veins are another story. They are bulging, unsightly leg veins which are usually more than three millimeters in diameter. If you have any symptoms, you should have your legs evaluated by a vein expert. These symptoms include: leg pain or cramping, swelling in the leg or ankle or a heavy feeling or fatigue in the legs.
If symptomatic varicose veins are left untreated, they can lead to serious complications, including rashes, infections, bleeding, sores and blood clots. If your leg is already swollen, your complications may be more severe.

Treatment is available

The good news is that there are several minimally invasive treatments for varicose veins. Discomfort after treatment is minimal and most patients see immediate relief of symptoms with little downtime. My patients usually tell me that they wished they had had the procedure performed much earlier.

Learn more about varicose veins and VeinSolutions.

And you thought they were just an issue for Grandma. Big, blue, bulging veins — called varicose veins — can appear on your legs, too.

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Sometimes varicose veins run in the family. Sometimes they’re because you stand a lot. Overweight people are more likely to have varicose veins. So are women, mostly due to pregnancy.

Increased pressure, from carrying more weight over time, can weaken the walls of your blood vessels. Rather than efficiently shooting blood back to your heart, weak-walled veins swell as they allow blood to pool.

That’s what makes varicose veins so visible, especially when they’re close to your skin. But they’re not merely a cosmetic concern, says Cleveland Clinic vascular surgeon George Anton, MD. Big, blue varicose veins can raise a red flag about your vascular health.

“When veins are big enough, the blood that pools in them can clot,” he says. “Clots can travel through your body, putting you at risk for a pulmonary embolism, which could be life threatening.”

When to see a doctor

Because of the clotting risk, all large varicose veins should be evaluated by a physician, says Dr. Anton. So should veins that cause one or more of these symptoms:

  • Sore, achy or throbbing legs. Sometimes varicose veins can make legs feel heavy or weak.
  • Phlebitis. This vein inflammation is usually due to a blood clot.
  • Skin ulcers. Open sores can form when blood and other fluid build up due to poor circulation. Sometimes the sores bleed and can become infected.
  • Swollen legs, ankles or feet. If an area of your skin looks darker or hardened, blood may be pooling there.

Treatment options

Treatment depends on the size of the vein, the complexity of its branches and evidence of a clot, says Dr. Anton. Usually evaluation involves a physical exam and ultrasound imaging.

“Most of the time, the first line of treatment is wearing compression stockings,” says Dr. Anton. “If veins are very large and complicated, however, stockings usually aren’t enough.”

Other treatment options include:

  • Sclerotherapy. A chemical solution is injected into the vein to make it collapse and eventually disappear. Veins usually require several sclerotherapy sessions, several weeks apart. This technique is better for small to medium varicose veins.
  • Endovenous ablation. This procedure is typically done in a procedure room with local anesthesia. Laser or radio-frequency technology is used to close off the vein.
  • Surgery. Larger veins under pressure are best removed surgically, either as an office procedure or an outpatient hospital procedure, says Dr. Anton. The veins are removed through small incisions in the skin.

“It’s common to require a combination of treatments,” says Dr. Anton. “In each case, we try to minimize complication from bleeding and clotting. For example, if we suspect there’s a clot, we may stay away from ablation and sclerotherapy. Surgery may be the safest option.”

How to reduce varicose veins

If you have varicose veins or just want to reduce your risk of developing them, try these tips:

  1. Wear knee-high compression socks. These socks may improve circulation in your legs and prevent blood from pooling there. This is especially important if you stand for long hours each day.
  2. Pump your calf muscles. When you’re seated for long stretches of time, like while traveling, exercise your legs to keep the blood moving. Pumping your calf muscles while seated does this just as well as getting up and walking around.
  3. Don’t wait to see a doctor. “Women often are told not to have their varicose veins treated until after they’re done having children, but that’s not always the case,” says Dr. Anton. “They should be evaluated for treatment. Varicose veins can become more difficult to treat if future pregnancies make them worse.”

Preventing or reducing varicose veins not only will keep your legs looking younger, but also will improve your vascular health.

Does running cause varicose veins? Do runners with varicose veins underperform? Does running regularly help with the symptoms of running? If you are a runner and are worried about varicose veins, or perhaps suffer from this common condition and are thinking about taking up running to help alleviate symptoms, take a look some of the ways varicose veins can impact running and vice-versa.

What are varicose veins and what causes them?

Varicose veins are swollen veins which tend to be purple or bluish in colour. These swollen veins using occur in the legs.

Varicose veins are caused by weakened valves in the veins which causes the blood to collect in the legs and pressure to build up. The veins then become large, twisted and weak.

If you suffer from varicose veins should you run?

As long as you are not in any pain or discomfort from the swollen veins, you can keep running. It is wise to run on softer terrain such as grass or an athletics track to soften the movement. You should wear well-cushioned trainers to absorb some of the shock running causes on the legs.

Can running help varicose veins?

Exercise like running improves the blood circulation, stimulating blood flow in the arm and legs, as well as building strength. Whilst low-impact exercise such as cycling and walking is generally better suited to sufferers of varicose veins, running can help improve the circulation of the blood and build strength in the legs.

As mentioned above, if you are running and have varicose veins, try and make your runs as low-impact as possible.

Seek medical treatment for varicose veins

If you are serious about running and suffer from varicose veins, it could be that the condition is hampering your running performance. It was recently reported in the Daily Mail that a 60-year-old runner was able to jog longer distances after having cosmetic surgery to remove her varicose veins.

If you are concerned about varicose veins and running or any type of sport or exercise, it is advisable to seek advice from a medical professional.

The Vascular Consultancy can provide advice on what types of treatment for this common vascular condition would be right for you.

Get in touch with the Vascular Consultancy team today to discuss your vein health concerns and queries.

November marks the start of the fall running season. Does it also mark the start of running-induced varicose veins? Dr. Luis Navarro, director of the Vein Treatment Center in New York, sheds light on the effects that running can have on varicose veins in your legs.

Varicose veins are caused by poor circulation

According to Dr. Navarro, running is actually beneficial for people who have varicose veins because varicose veins are a result of poor circulation. He explains, “When you run, the venous muscles in the calves and the feet pump the blood through the veins to the heart.”

A variety of other factors can also increase the risk and appearance of varicose veins in the legs. These include: age, genetics, pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone therapy, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, weight fluctuation, and prolonged periods of sitting or standing.

Women at risk for varicose veins

Varicose and spider veins affect roughly 50 percent of the female population and many women are quite embarrassed by them. The best ways to cope with varicose veins is to understand them, do what you can to prevent them and seek treatments when they form.

What are varicose veins and spider veins?

“Varicose and spider veins are dilated capillaries less than two millimeters in diameter located just below the surface of the skin, most commonly found on the legs and occasionally on the face,” says Dr. Navarro. “Spider veins are blue, red or purplish with a web-like or linear appearance, while varicose veins are abnormally swollen or stretched veins that protrude from the surface of the skin, typically in a rope-like manner, usually occurring on the legs.”

Varicose veins are due to weakness in the veins

According to Dr. Navarro, varicose veins develop due to a weakening of vein valves and vein walls; the weakening of the valves causes the blood to pool and stretch the vein, which causes it to protrude. Running and exercise of any kind is essential to keep your body healthy and strong – and can reduce the risk of developing varicose veins.

Treatments for varicose vein removal

Sclerotherapy, or “injection therapy,” can successfully treat 90 percent of all varicose veins and nearly 100 percent of spider veins safely, effectively and painlessly, with excellent cosmetic results. The procedure includes injecting a mild chemical solution into the affected vein, causing the walls of the vein to become irritated and collapse. The vein is then absorbed in the body’s natural healing process. The blood from the closed vein is rerouted to a healthy vein, thereby restoring proper circulation. Following the injections, the leg is wrapped with an elastic bandage for several hours. Over the next two to three weeks the treated veins begin to heal and “disappear.” The Vein Treatment Center also utilizes a specialized technique known as foam sclerotherapy, in which the liquid sclerosing agent is converted to a foam-like substance, which is ideal for closing larger veins.

Ambulatory phlebectomy and Endolaser are performed on varicose veins that are too large to be treated with sclerotherapy. They are both done in-office, under local anesthesia. Phlebectomy involves removing the faulty portion of the vein through minute incisions that heal, leaving minimal scars. Endolaser, a treatment created and developed at The Vein Treatment Center, uses laser energy to seal the affected vein. These procedures require only a small nick in the skin, local anesthesia and no hospital visit or stitches.

Ways to prevent varicose veins

“Although varicose and spider veins can never be completely prevented, there are ways to slow the progression of the disease,” says Dr. Navarro. “Get regular exercise, wear graduated compression stockings, monitor your hormone intake, elevate your legs, and eat a proper diet that is high in fiber and low in salt.”

Varicose veins can hurt your health

Dr. Navarro also highly recommends seeking treatment in the early stages of varicose vein formation. “Untreated varicose veins can lead to conditions such as eczema, hyper-pigmentation, sores, skin ulcers, swelling, painful rashes and even increased potential for blood clots that can travel to the heart or lungs,” he warns.

For more information on varicose veins and varicose vein treatments, visit www.veintreatmentcenter.com.

More on treating varicose veins

Sclerotherapy varicose vein treatment

In this medical video, watch as Dr. Jeffrey A. Hunt performs sclerotherapy treatment on a patient at The Vein & Cosmetic Center of Tampa Bay.

More on varicose veins

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  • Dangers of deep-vein thrombosis
  • So long, spider veins

Do you have varicose or spider veins? If you do, you most likely have questions about exercise and varicose veins. Is it safe to exercise if I have varicose or spider veins? If so, what exercises are best for slowing the progression of venous reflux – the underlying cause of my vein disease? Or, I am an athlete, how could I possibly have vein disease?

Today, we will answer these questions and provide helpful tips about exercising and varicose veins that promote ‘healthy veins for life.’ Plus, we will discuss other solutions if you have a difficult time exercising for various reasons.

Athletes, Exercise and Varicose Veins

Last month, a young woman came to our office with tired, achy legs. Being in great shape, a life-long soccer player including the collegiate level, and a runner, she was surprised to learn she had symptomatic vein disease. The truth is, even athletes and healthy people can have varicose and spider veins. In fact, some exercises can increase your risks of having varicose veins or other vein diseases.

The Dos & Don’ts of Exercise and Varicose Veins

Diseased veins are most commonly associated with prolonged sitting or standing careers, hereditary factors, and pregnancy. However, even if you are at high risk for vein disease, there are principles you can follow to help maintain ‘healthy veins for life.’

Exercise is the #1 healthy vein principle, but certain exercises are better for your veins than others. As you exercise, blood is pumped back to the heart from the calf muscle and veins in the arch of the foot – a strong calf muscle promotes healthy blood circulation and minimizes vein disease.

So, what exercises are good for vein health and which are counterproductive?

Walking

The best exercise is walking. Walking is a low-impact activity that stretches and strengthens your calf pump, thereby improving your blood flow.
Set a goal to walk 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Park farther away when shopping so you can walk a little longer. Your veins will thank you for it!

Stationary Bike & Elliptical

Other low-impact exercises like riding a stationary bike or using the elliptical are great for exercising the calf muscle and improving calf pump blood flow without placing stress on your joints and bones.

Running

Running or jogging is a fantastic aerobic exercise that gets the calf muscles and feet moving, but it may adverse effects on the joints. If you’re a die-hard runner, try running on a synthetic track or grassy surface to minimize the high-impact of cement or pavement.

Weightlifting

Strenuous exercise can put a strain on the venous circulation. As blood flows up the leg veins back to the heart, it flows through the vena cava in the abdomen. Increasing the abdominal pressure by heavy lifting and straining impedes blood from traveling back to the heart. The venous blood then pools in the leg veins increasing the venous pressure and venous reflux or reversal of flow in the leg veins into varicose veins in the legs.

Weightlifting is not a great form of exercise for healthy veins for life. If you do lift weights, use good lifting techniques: lower weight and high rep routines, exhale when you lift, and incorporate aerobic activity such as walking or riding a stationary bike immediately afterward in order to get the blood circulating again. Remember to wear compression socks while weightlifting and directly after to assist with moving the blood upward towards the heart.

Other strenuous activities with minimal aerobics

Other activities can worsen venous reflux. We encourage avoiding these activities or performing them in very short segments combined with aerobic activity.

  • Prolonged abdominal posturing (yoga)
  • Sit ups
  • Crunches
  • Lunges

When Exercise isn’t an Option

We understand that there are circumstances that make frequent exercise impossible. So, whether it’s the Georgia heat, schedule conflicts, or an illness, there are other measures which promote healthy veins for life.

  • While sitting or standing, rock your feet back and forth on the ground from heel to toe activating the calf pump.
  • Wear graduated compression hose especially while traveling, sitting or standing for an extended period, and during pregnancy (in fact, just make them a part of your daily wardrobe!)
  • Avoid high heels except for special occasions (the position of the foot in high heeled shoes weakens the calf muscle and prevents proper circulation.)

As you can see, exercise is important in preventing venous disease and maintaining healthy legs and veins for life. Just be sure that you’re doing the right exercises! Schedule a healthy legs consultation or call us at 478-216-4646 if you would like to discuss exercise and varicose veins.

Activities That May Trigger Varicose Vein Pain

Physical activity can certainly bring relief to almost any condition, ranging from joint pain to mental health. Moderate exercise improves blood circulation, making this a logical method for treating varicose veins. But did you know that certain activities can actually trigger varicose vein pain?

If not done correctly or too frequently, being active can make the pain of having varicose veins worse. Here are some activities to be mindful of and what you can do instead.

Standing or Sitting for Prolonged Periods

We start with this one because these are highly “inactive” activities, yet they can cause varicose vein pain. The heart pumps blood to the legs, but the blood’s return to the heart is aided by calf muscle movement. If you go for long periods either standing or sitting, your muscles aren’t moving much. Avoid this by walking around to boost blood circulation, and stretching your legs frequently throughout the day.

When sitting, move your ankles around in a circular motion and up and down to help your circulation and if you’re on your feet a lot, be sure to shift the weight between your legs. You should also stand up on the balls of your feet to flex your calf muscles, which will aid your circulation.

While the movement promotes healthy vein function, running is high-impact, and running too frequently when you have varicose veins can aggravate them and cause swelling. If you’re noticing this happens when you run, try mixing up your workout routine, and replace a few runs with a lower-impact jog instead.

Lifting weights can make your varicose veins hurt because you’re putting increased pressure on your abdomen. This straining can reduce the blood flow from your legs back to your heart, causing the blood to pool. This increases the pressure in your leg veins, which can cause vein damage.

When lifting weights, opt for lighter weights and increase your number of repetitions. Try keeping your legs at the same level as your heart or higher to improve blood flow. A good exercise is the chest fly, where you can lay on your back with your legs straight up. This works the core muscles as well as your chest and shoulder muscles. Avoid holding your breath when you’re lifting weights to maintain adequate oxygen flow, which is necessary for healthy circulation.

So What Can You Do?

The best activities you can do if you have varicose vein pain will help improve circulation without putting added pressure on your veins. These include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Biking
  • Massage
  • Wearing supportive shoes (avoid high heels except for special occasions)
  • Wearing compression stockings

Basically, be mindful of how much impact you’re putting on your legs and do what you can to reduce pressure and increase blood flow back to the heart. Don’t overdo it, but maintain a balance of physical activity that promotes healthy circulation.

If you have varicose veins and have noticed they are having an increasingly detrimental impact on your life, there are a variety of treatment methods available. Learn about your options with our guide, Your Options for Varicose Vein Treatment.

Does Exercise Make Spider Veins Worse?

5 Tips to Make Sure the Answer is No

As spring time starts to bring nicer weather and wake us up out of sleepy winter, it’s a great time to hit the hike and bike trail, take a stroll around the neighborhood, or find some other way you really enjoy to get healthy movement. Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent and manage spider veins—as long as you’re doing the right kind.

Here are 5 essential tips for choosing exercise that helps get your blood moving without being strenuous or damaging for your spider vein symptoms:

Understand What’s Going On in Your Body

One of the best ways to ensure that your exercise routine never puts you at risk of injuring yourself or worsening your vein health is to really understand what’s happening in your body and “listen” to the signals it sends you.

Spider veins and varicose veins are a result of blood not pumping correctly upward from the feet and legs, which is especially important during strenuous exercise. “Venous reflux” is the regression of blood back down toward the legs, when it should be pumped up to the vena cava in the abdomen, and then to the heart.

Therefore, any exercise that puts extra or extended strain or restriction on your feet, calf muscles, and/or abs is likely to further disrupt the flow of blood and cause pain and aching. Pay attention to rushing feelings, throbbing or aching in the legs and ease up on yourself right away. Try to choose activities that don’t restrict or strain these areas.

Walk, Don’t Run

In general, walking is a better bet than running or jogging for most people struggling with vein health, even if they are young. Walking is gentle but still gets your heart pumping, and stretches the calf which improves blood flow. It can be adapted to pretty much any environment, schedule or ability level.

Running, on the other hand, typically causes a much higher impact to your feet, legs, and joints, and can be so strenuous as to place further stress on backed up veins. If you’re experiencing any issues with spider or varicose veins, walking is the safest choice.

Go For Low Impact and High Circulation

The best types of exercises for nurturing and improving vein health are ones that are easy on your body and encourage circulation and blood flow in the legs without requiring too much straining effort.

Stationary equipment like an exercise bike or elliptical treadmill are great options because they allow you to adjust your intensity and get your legs pumping without putting too much pressure on them.

Other good examples are swimming at a moderate pace, mid-tempo dance, and low- to moderate-incline hikes.

Avoid Anything That Overly Strains The Abs

The vena cava, a main vein in the abdomen that carries deoxygenated blood back up to the heart, is a key player when it comes to managing healthy blood flow during exercise. If the vena cava is under pressure or strain when your legs attempt to send blood back upward, it’s much more likely to reflux and pool back down in the legs.

Examples of exercises that should be avoided include crunches and sit-ups, variations like bicycle crunches, v-sits, and leg lifts, weight-lifting, pilates, and extended yoga poses that place strain on the abdomen.

If you want to improve your core strength, opt for resistance training with light weight, bodyweight, or resistance bands.

Wear Compression Socks!

During and after any kind of exercise, wearing compression socks is a great way to help your legs. These can be found at some drug stores or online, and provide extra support through an extra-tight elastic fit that helps prevent blood from getting backed up. Many active and athletic people struggling with vein health make compression socks a part of their regular workout uniform!

Getting regular, healthy movement is a great way to take good care of your body and manage spider veins. As long as you follow these simple guidelines, you can make exercise a part of your regular self-care plan without doing any harm.

Do you have questions about spider veins or think you may be showing symptoms? Call Bunker Vein and Imaging at (512) 726-0599 and we’ll schedule you for a free consultation.

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