Varicose veins are a common issue among adults in the UK, with an estimated one-thirdof the population experiencing thread or varicose veins at any given time. When varicose veins appear, they resemble a cluster of cords beneaththe surface of the skin,or tiny thread-like veins that are blue-purple in color. While many experience varicose veins as a cosmetic issue alone, some also have ongoing pain, itching, swelling, and burning when vein problems arise.
There is no singular cause for varicose veins, although research points to risk factors such as pregnancy, obesity, leg trauma, and a family history of vein disease contributing to the problem for many adults. When varicose or thread veins appear and cause discomfort, one of the first questions patients have is if exercise is still an option. The short answer is yes, but it is important to know which exercises are the most beneficial and which should be avoidedwhen varicose veins are an issue.
The Best Exercises for Varicose Veins
When varicose veins or thread veins are present with pain or swelling, certain exercises are better suited for a productive workout than others. Walking is one of the best physical activities an individual with varicose veins can do, as it is a low-impact exercise that helps improve circulation in the veins of the legs. Similarly, swimming can be beneficial to those who love the water. With a swimming exercise regimen, the legs are often elevated above the heart, helping improve circulation while taking pressure off the veins.
In addition to walking and swimming, other low-impact exercises can be great for getting in a workout without causing more damage to broken veins in the legs. Biking and elliptical training are both recommended for those who want a higher-intensity workout without the added impact on the legs or veins. Doing simple exercises, including lunges, crunches, and push-ups is also an option, as is yoga or stretching routines to help get the blood flow moving.
Activities to Avoid
Although there are several exercises that canstill take place successfully when a patient has varicose or thread veins, some should be avoided. Running is not completely off the table, but runners are encouraged to find a soft surface on which to complete their workout. Having cushioned shoes also helps, as does easing into long runs over time. Heavy weightlifting is not recommended for individuals with varicose or thread veins, as this can put undue pressure on the legs. Using lighter weights or resistance bands can be a better option for those who typically follow this type of workout regimen.
It is also important to understand the impact of exercise post-treatment. Many people opt for removing thread veins or varicose veins with the help of minimally-invasive procedures, like sclerotherapy or EVLT. Although recovery is often short for these types of treatments for broker veins, patients need to be cautious of how quickly they get back to working out. Eddie Chaloner, vascular surgeon at a varicose vein clinicin the UK, explains, “It is advisable to avoid heavy exercise for a week or two while the healing process takes place. You are unlikely to harm yourself if youexercise sooner, but it may hurt more than you appreciate.”
Options for Easing Pain
If painis an issue with varicose veins, either post-treatment or during a workout routine, there are some options for reducing it. Compression stockings are a common recommendation for patients with varicose veins. Wearing compression stockings helps with circulating the blood in the legs over time, especially after standing, sitting, or working out for an extended period. Similarly, elevation of the legs after a long day or intense workout helps ensure the blood is flowing as best it can. Neither elevation nor compression treats varicose or thread veins fully, but their effects are beneficial for minimisingpain and discomfort. Adults with varicose veins do not have to avoid exercise at all costs before or after treatment. However, there are certain guidelines to follow to ensure no further injury or pain takes place. Easing into a workout routine is helpful, as is keeping the intensity level down throughout each physical ac