Healthy veins have tiny, one-way valves inside them that open and close as needed to keep oxygen-depleted blood flowing smoothly back to the heart. A weakened or damaged valve may allow blood to flow backward and collect in a vein, causing it to become enlarged (varicose). These bulging, twisted, dark purple veins are often visible under the skin, usually in the legs.
Varicose veins are common, and although they cannot be completely prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. The vascular specialists at Vein911® Vein Treatment Center in Tampa, Florida, offer the following tips:
Move Your Legs Throughout the Day
You have probably heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” Although it might seem like a stretch, there is some truth to it. A sedentary lifestyle is a well-established risk factor for heart disease and a host of other health issues, including varicose veins.
How does sitting cause vein disease? Extended sitting places significant pressure on the hips, legs, and ankles, which can strain delicate vein valves and lead to poor blood circulation, which is compounded by inactivity. As a result, the veins must work harder to return deoxygenated blood to the heart. Instead, blood may pool in the leg veins, causing them to become enlarged, darkened, and twisted.
To reduce your risk of varicose veins, it is important to avoid sitting (as well as standing) for long periods. If you have a job that requires prolonged sitting or standing, try to take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch your legs. If you can’t move about, try repeatedly flexing and extending your feet, which can help pump blood up your legs.
Regular exercise is a key element of varicose vein prevention, and it doesn’t take a huge amount to make a difference. For maximum health benefits, many experts recommend aiming for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
Keep in mind that exercise doesn’t have to be a grind to be effective. Some great options for boosting blood circulation in your legs include walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing. Choose an activity you enjoy, and you will be more likely to stick with it. You might also ask a friend or two to join you; that way, you can hold each other accountable while you enjoy time together.
Of course, before starting any new workout program, be sure to talk with a physician to confirm that the activities you have planned are safe and appropriate for you.
Manage Your Weight
Regular exercise will also help you achieve and maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI), which is another important element of varicose vein prevention. What is the relationship between your BMI and varicose veins? Carrying excess weight can intensify the already considerable pressure on your leg veins and their valves, especially when you are sitting or standing.
Additionally, many people who are overweight or obese do not get enough exercise. A lack of physical activity can lead to poor blood circulation, allowing blood to collect in your veins and further increasing your risk of developing varicose veins.
Wear Compression Socks
Compression socks are designed to continually apply pressure to your legs, which can help your blood flow more easily through your veins against the force of gravity. By promoting blood circulation, these simple but effective garments can provide immediate benefits. For instance, they can ease leg swelling at the end of the day and prevent tired and achy feet in the first place. If worn regularly, compression socks can also help counter the damaging effects of high venous pressure and allow your blood to circulate more freely.
Typically, compression stockings are a physician’s first suggestion for relieving discomfort associated with varicose veins. Although they cannot eliminate your risk of developing vein disease, they still may be a good investment, especially if you are at risk due to the nature of your profession or other factors.
If you are interested in using compression socks, talk with a physician about which type would be best for you and how often you should wear them.
Reach Out for Personalized Advice
Whether you already have varicose veins or you are actively trying to prevent them, the vein specialists at Vein911® Vein Treatment Center can help. After evaluating your risk profile, we can suggest proactive lifestyle changes to help you manage it. If you are interested, we also offer the latest minimally invasive, office-based treatments for varicose veins, spider veins, and other vein-related ailments. Most of our vein treatments take under an hour from start to finish, and you can resume your normal routine immediately afterward.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with a vascular specialist at Vein911® Vein Treatment Center in Tampa, FL, call 1-855-VEIN-911 today.