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Iceni Magazine | July 1, 2022

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How to Exercise with Varicose Veins

How to Exercise with Varicose Veins

For many, varicose and thread veins are a cosmetic annoyance that takes away from their self-confidence.

However, of the millions of people who live with varicose veins each day, pain and discomfort may be the docket as well. When vein issues turn into pain issues, questions arise surrounding what can and can’t be done in terms of everyday activities. As far as exercise is concerned, individual responses to physical activity and its impact on varicose veins varies significantly.

When varicose veins appear, they typically resemble a blue or purple cluster of veins beneath the skin. The broken veins may look as though they are bulging out of the skin or twisted cords on the legs. Anyone with varicose veins may experience achy legs or heaviness in the lower body, a burning or throbbing sensation, or pain walking, standing, or sitting. Each of these issues independently or combined together make working out a challenge, and a concern for many. However, there are exercises that you can tackle even with varicose veins, as well as a few you might avoid.

Exercise Dos

First, exercising on a regular basis is key to maintaining healthy veins throughout a lifetime. While the cause of varicose and thread veins differs from patient to patient, a sedentary life does not necessarily help the cause. If you have varicose veins are wondering if working out is still an option for you, the answer is yes. However, the focus should be on the following exercises as to not worsen your vein issues.

  • Walking – walking around the office, near home, or on a treadmill for at least 30 minutes each day is beneficial to your health without having a negative impact on varicose veins. Walking is a low-impact activity that can get the heart rate up while helping improve blood flow to the legs.
  • Swimming – many vein specialists recommend swimming as an exercise option for those with varicose or thread veins. Swimming elevates the legs above the heart, helping with circulation, and there is no pressure placed on the lower body when completing this exercise.
  • Biking or elliptical training – both biking and elliptical training are low-impact exercises that can ramp up the heart rate more than walking, but without placing unnecessary pressure on the legs and joints.

Individuals with varicose veins may also consider a light aerobics workout or stretching and yoga classes as exercise options. These are also less intense activities that do not place extra pressure on broken veins in the legs.

Exercises to Avoid

Although there are several exercises people with varicose and thread veins can do on a daily basis, there are just as many to avoid. Heavy weight lifting can add pressure to the veins, creating more discomfort and pain over time. Similarly, running on hard surfaces or for long periods can add to varicose vein issues instead of helping reduce them. It is important to speak with a doctor about which exercises make the most sense when varicose veins are present.

Another consideration for physical activity is after varicose vein treatment is completed. Eddie Chaloner, a vein specialist in the UK, explains that many people undergo minimally-invasive procedures for removing thread veins. While the recovery time is often short, working out immediately after is not recommended. He states, “It is advised to avoid heavy exercise for a week or two while the healing process takes place. Patients are unlikely to harm themselves further if exercise takes place sooner, but it will likely hurt to do so.”

Alternative Options for Varicose Veins

In addition to the right exercise moves and intensities, individuals with varicose veins can use other methods to help reduce discomfort or pain associated with vein disorders. Compression stockings are often the go-to recommended for those with vein issues, as they help improve the blood flow within the veins of the legs. While compression therapy does not ultimately heal or repair varicose veins, it can eliminate some of the symptoms.

In addition to compression, elevation of the legs helps for many patients. This technique, like compression, helps ease the blood flow process to minimise pressure placed on broke veins. The combination of the right physical activity and one of these alternative symptom management techniques can keep varicose veins from interfering with your life both now and in the future.


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