Circulation is key. A get-up-and-go attitude is good for vein health, as long as it entails easy, fluid movement of the legs, like walking or jogging.
While they make your legs look great, high heels actually limit your calf muscles ability to “pump” blood back to the heart.
There is no doubt that prevention plays a major role in the evolution of spider and varicose veins. Patients who neglect early symptoms of vein disease will likely see a worsening of their veins. Once a vein condition is first detected, time is of the essence. While vein disease may progress slowly at first, once it reaches a critical point, it may progress at a much more rapid rate. Taking preventative measures can curb this progress and reduce the need for more invasive treatment options.
Simply put, exercise helps stem the progression of varicose veins and increases overall circulatory health. Aerobic exercise has beneficial effects on varicose veins, particularly when the activity utilizes the calf muscles of the leg. Since these muscles act as a physiologic pump of the lower extremity, the use of these muscles encourages the return of venous blood back into the truncal circulatory system.
Some types of exercise may actually put more strain on your veins, such as yoga, sit-ups and weightlifting.
Conversely, strenuous exercise that involves minimal aerobic activity and straining of the abdominal muscles actually has negative effects on the venous circulation. Increasing abdominal pressure can ultimately impair the return of blood back to the heart, further exacerbating venous reflux and venous insufficiency. These exercises include prolonged abdominal posturing (yoga), sit-ups, crunches, weightlifting, and lunges.
Simple lower extremity exercises such as walking and jogging can help the circulatory system and facilitate the return of venous blood back to the central circulatory system.
[Diagrams or video of exercises]
Graduated compression socks and hosiery have been a proven prescription in the prevention, management and treatment of the many stages of venous insufficiency. What does graduated compression therapy do to help with the management of venous problems? The external graduated compression acts as a layer of muscle by gently squeezing the stretched vein walls together, allowing the valves to close and function properly. The cavity of the vein is reduced, thereby restoring blood flow to a normal state and aiding overall circulation.
You can see in the diagram below how graduated compression exerts more pressure at the ankle and lessens or “graduates” as it moves up the leg, assisting in the normal upward circulation flow.
To be most effective, the socks or stockings should fit over the calf, be put on at the start of the day, and removed before going to bed.
It is recommended you wear compression hose when you travel to reduce swelling and the risk of a blood clot, known as DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Women should also wear compression hose to reduce the development of varicose veins and help their leg circulation during pregnancy and the post-partum period. If your occupation requires long periods of standing or sitting without activity, compression hosiery is important to add to your daily wardrobe.