About 20 to 60% of the population of the United Kingdom have varicose veins and women are more likely to be affected than men. About 20 to 25% of women have it and 10 to 15% of men over the age of 15. It’s a frequent medical problem and cause of consultation and treatment in the UK.
Varicose and spider veins are all under the disease spectrum of venous insufficiency diseases. It is a common disease that may start as a cosmetic problem but further along the line, it evolves and causes pain, skin color changes and even ulcerations.
If you have suffered from varicose veins and spider veins, not only are they aesthetically unpleasant to look at but they can be bothersome especially when symptoms like leg heaviness, swelling, pain and bleeding occur.
Varicose veins are managed with sclerotherapy, radiofrequency ablation or with compression stockings but one way to also help with varicose veins is through weight reduction by eating the right food and regular exercise.
Exercise and varicose veins may sound odd together but there are exercises that are safe for patients with varicose veins and spider veins.
Before doing any forms of exercise, make sure to contact your health care provider and ask for a clearance especially if your varicose veins have the potential to bleed or cause severe pain or if you have other underlying conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or cancer.
1. Start with stretching!
Stretching is one good way to help your body get into core strength training and it’s one good way to help increase the circulation in your body. This means you get to get a good flow going in your veins and at the same time, you’re strengthening the muscles that help support your veins.
2. Don’t underestimate the power of walking
Walking is the easiest kind of exercise. You can do it around your neighborhood or even in your backyard. In winter, you can even walk inside the mall or in your own home with a treadmill. Walking helps you lose weight which also decreases your risk for varicose veins. The muscles used when walking also help push the blood in your veins to decrease pressure located in the lower extremities.
3. Ride a bicycle
Using a bicycle or a stationary cycle can help your muscle push the blood pooling in your vessels. It is a low impact exercise like walking and can also improve circulation in the lower extremities. Pressure when riding a bicycle is also less than that when walking because you do not put all your weight in your lower extremities.
4. Lift your legs!
Leg lifts are very simple to do even at home and do not even require special equipment. They are simple stretches and you can do it by holding your leg up in the air for a few seconds before alternating to the next leg. This way, it helps the blood flow go back by gravity when you hold your leg up and also improves the circulation and the muscle strength of the area. Leg lifts are also a great way to decrease swelling.
5. Swimming can be good for you too
Swimming increases the blood flow to your leg vein when you are in a horizontal position. It is also a low impact exercise which allows you to improve your leg strength and even soothes leg discomfort. Studies showed that swimming can aid chronic venous insufficiency problems like varicose veins.
6. Lunge it out!
Lunges help workout the different muscles of your lower extremity. This way, the leg muscles are kept strong and stretching improves circulation. To do a proper lunge, start by standing up tall then step one foot forward reaching a 90 degree angle, lift your front lunging leg to then return to the starting position. Hold your lunges a few seconds before shifting on the next leg.
7. Try Yoga
Yoga involves a lot of stretching and balancing and there are numerous yoga poses that are beneficial for your legs.
The Mountain Pose is usually the first yoga pose you will learn if you’re new and it will help you align your body. It looks simple, but it can strengthen your knees and thighs and by maintaining your body on this pose, you relieve your legs thus also decreasing pressure on your veins.
The Standing Forward Bend is one of the best poses to help improve your circulation. You get a deep stretch in your calves and thighs with this pose and helps decrease leg pain.
The Fish Pose allows you to relieve the stress in your body and decreases lower leg cramping. This pose allows your blood flow to become more regulated and improves the circulation in your lower extremities.
8. Ankle Exercises
Ankle exercises (3) done with a stretchable band can help with the circulation of your lower extremity. It’s a 5 to 10-minute regimen done three times a week. You can sit on the edge of a chair with the knee straight and leg angles down the ground. The exercise is composed of slow plantar flexions against the resistance of the band with gradual increase in number over the next sessions.
You can live a normal life with varicose and spider veins but be aware enough of the limitations that you may have. Exercise plays an important role in making sure that your varicosities do not progress into something serious. Always ask clearance from your healthcare provider prior to doing any exercises and ask about what’s best for you. If you see symptoms that warrant a consult, go see your doctor right away.