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Regular exercise builds muscle tone, increases flexibility, and improves cardiovascular health. Yet strenuous workouts take a surprising toll on your veins. That’s why it’s surprising to hear about athletes with vascular disorders, particularly varicose veins.

Certain athletes are most at risk — in particular, athletes who must use their legs to carry most of their weight as they exercise. That includes weightlifting, marathon cycling, running, skiing, and backpacking on long hikes. In addition to the added stress on the leg and abdominal veins, vigorous exercise demands increased blood flow, which doubles the strain on the veins. Such workouts are also performed while standing or sitting for extended periods, thereby weakening already overburdened vein valves and preventing proper circulation. 

That being said, you don’t have to stop your favorite workouts. Knowing the symptoms and taking proactive steps to support vein fitness will keep your veins healthy as you exercise.

How Your Veins Affect Athletic Performance

Varicose veins can be present without visible signs, but there are a few definite symptoms. If your legs or feet swell, feel tight and painful, or start to throb and itch it could signal the veins aren’t properly transporting blood. Because these symptoms don’t relate to a typical sports injury like a muscle strain or broken bone, you likely won’t link the discomfort to a problem with your veins.

Yet malfunctioning veins affect your athletic performance. When your legs feel weak and painful, your workouts become more difficult and arduous. You may want to continue to exercise, but that only exacerbates the symptoms. But stopping your workouts only reduces your overall cardiovascular fitness, and it’s unlikely that most athletes would give up their fitness regimen. That means the best solution is to take care of your vein health when you exercise.

Taking Care of Your Veins While Training

The symptoms mentioned above indicate a serious venous deficiency that must be examined by a vein specialist. It’s best to ask your doctor if it’s safe to continue your typical workout routine. If you have the all-clear, you can follow these three tips to ensure a vein-healthy workout.

1. Wear Compression Stockings. Because of all the pressure put on leg veins, they sometimes need an extra push to keep the blood flowing from the legs to the heart. Compression stockings made of super-elastic fabric do just that. Your vein specialist can help you decide whether you can use a commercial brand sold in drugstores, or the tightest grade stocking available with a doctor’s prescription.

2. Elevate Your Legs After a Workout. After an intense workout session, prop your feet on a pillow or bench. Raising your legs above your heart encourages the blood to flow in the right direction and not collect in the leg veins.

3. Switch Up Your Workout Routine. Not every workout has to be high intensity. Mix in exercises that reduce stress on the legs, such as walking, swimming, or pedaling a stationary bicycle, to rev up the cardiovascular system without harming the veins.

Learn How to Take Care of Your Veins

As a committed athlete, you’re familiar with all the measures you must undertake to keep your body free from injury. However, you may not have considered that part of a safe, effective workout routine means protecting your leg veins. At Vein911, our specialists can assess your vein fitness and suggest methods to avoid damage to your veins, including helping you purchase compression stockings. If you’re already suffering from varicose veins, we are experts in several minimally invasive surgical procedures that will allow you to exercise without the discomfort of varicose veins. Contact Vein911 Vein Treatment Center today for an appointment.