5 Ways to Avoid Varicose Veins
Your veins have a tough job. Unlike arteries, which deliver just-pumped blood from the heart to the rest of your body, your veins have to work with less momentum and against gravity to carry blood back to the heart. In order to make sure that your blood is all moving in the right direction, veins have one-way valves that are designed to prevent backflow.
However, when these valves malfunction — usually due to excessive pressure, weakened vein walls or a lack of surrounding muscle support — the blood that pools in the veins causes them to swell and bunch up. This swelling and bunching is the condition we call varicose veins. By keeping your veins and muscles strong and healthy, you can significantly reduce your risk of varicose veins.
Getting enough of the right kind of exercise is an effective way to avoid varicose veins. Cardio exercises like walking, jogging and swimming are especially beneficial: they raise your heart rate and keep your blood vessels active. Exercise also strengthens your muscles, which support your veins and promote healthy blood flow.
Additionally, obesity is a major risk factor for varicose veins. Varicose veins most commonly appear on legs because your legs bear the weight of your upper body and the veins in your legs are constantly pushing blood upwards. The added pressure of extra weight on your legs and feet can make blood flow even more challenging. Regular exercise helps prevent obesity and can assist in weight loss, and weight management is a crucial step in preventing varicose veins.
Don’t Sit Still
Have you ever had your leg or foot fall asleep at your desk? It’s likely because you forgot to get up and stretch. That pins-and-needles feeling happens when your limb isn’t getting the right amount of circulation, a common problem for people who sit down all day, every day. Over time, a sedentary lifestyle can lead to two causes of varicose veins: weakened leg muscles and poor circulation. A 2017 guide from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggests getting up and in motion once every 30 minutes, or as needed. This relieves pressure on your joints, gets your blood flowing back into all your extremities (including your brain!), and helps you avoid varicose veins and a host of other health concerns.
Don’t Stand Still
Despite research linking sedentary jobs and circulatory problems, that standing desk may not be the solution to your problems. A 2014 review by NIOSH researchers also found that occupations requiring constant standing with limited movement — such as cashiers or assembly line workers —also heighten your risk for health issues like varicose veins. The continuous pressure on your legs and the unvarying upright position means your veins have to work even harder than usual to regulate blood flow.
The NIOSH review recommends stretching, short walks, taking breaks to sit, wearing compression socks or hosiery, and using floor mats or shoe inserts. No matter what kind of job you have, you can avoid varicose veins and other complications by remembering to give your body a break from any single position.
Eat Your Fruits & Veggies
Several studies show that certain vitamins and minerals can help strengthen blood vessels. In particular, a group of nutrients called flavonoids or bioflavonoids have been linked to all kinds of cardiovascular benefits, including generally improved circulation and blood vessel wall health. Flavonoids are naturally-occurring pigments that give fruits and vegetables their colors and are also found in many nuts, seeds, and spices. According to the USDA, some examples of foods that are high in flavonoids are berries, fish, broccoli, citrus fruits, green and black tea, pecans and dark chocolate. For more ideas of foods and nutrients that promote good circulatory health, see our blog post: These Foods Are Great for Circulation!
Talk to Your Doctor
Some people are simply at a higher risk for varicose veins than others. That is because varicose veins are genetic: if your parents or grandparents had varicose veins, you are more likely to develop them yourself. If varicose veins run in your family and you are concerned that lifestyle changes like light exercise and diet may not be enough, you should talk to your doctor about other options. They may recommend a more robust exercise regimen, a clinically developed nutritional supplement, or a more personalized kind of preventative treatment.
If you already have symptoms of varicose veins and would like to avoid them worsening, there are many treatment options available to you. Here at Advanced Varicose Vein Treatments of Manhattan, we offer a variety of cost-effective and minimally invasive treatments that can target varicose veins of all sizes and severity. To learn more about treatment options, contact us today at 212-204-6501.