Exercise to Help Prevent Varicose Veins


Exercises to Help Prevent Varicose Veins

Varicose veins cannot always be prevented, but exercising may reduce some of the risk.  If you already suffer from varicose veins, exercise is an excellent way to help reduce symptoms.  

Exercise doesn’t have to be anything fancy and in fact can be done at your own home, in your neighborhood, or local park. Low-impact cardiovascular and aerobic activities are the most effective forms of exercise. This includes walking, biking, and swimming.  For best results, cardiovascular exercise should be performed at a minimum of 30 minutes daily for 4-5 days per week. These exercises allow for the muscles in the legs to contract, pushing the excess blood back to the heart. An added bonus is weight loss, as excess weight can contribute and worsen varicose veins.


Even though cardiovascular exercise is the best natural way to treat and attempt to prevent varicose veins, stretches and bodyweight exercise are also beneficial.  Not all bodyweight exercises provide benefit and some may even worsen varicose veins.  Any exercises that increase the abdominal pressure or cause straining should be avoided.  These types of exercise include crunches, sit-ups, squats, lunges, or any weight training with heavy weights.  The following are exercises that can benefit varicose veins. 

Exercise List:

Advantages to undergoing an ablation procedure versus the traditional vein stripping include:

  1. Leg Lifts:  Position your body so that you are laying on your back on a firm to semi-firm surface, such as the floor or a firm bed.  Slowly raise each leg into the air, as high as you are able.  Leave it in the air for a few seconds before returning to the floor.  Alternate each leg.  Perform 10-20 lifts for each leg for three separate sets or three different times.
  2. Bicycle Kicks:  Position your body so that you are laying on your back on a firm to semi-firm surface, such as the floor or a firm bed.  Bend your hips slightly and begin moving the legs, straightening and bending the hip and knee, so that the motion is similar to riding a bicycle.  You may perform this exercise with each leg together or separately.  Perform 15-30 kicks for each leg for three separate sets.
  3. Toe to heel:  This exercise can be performed either sitting or standing.  Start with pressure on the toes and move back to the heels.  This allows the calf muscles to contract.  This exercise is ideal to perform while working, as it does not require moving from a stationary spot, if this is not possible.  Perform this once every 30-60 min performing at least 20 motions.
To learn more about varicose vein prevention, contact Dr. Mackay at 1-727-261-0047 or fill out an appointment request form.

Exercising is a great way to help reduce the pain in varicose veins, lose weight, and try to prevent the development of varicose veins. Begin a regimen with either bodyweight exercises or cardiovascular exercises routinely and then move to including both in your regimen for best results.

About Varicose Veins

Veins are a series of tunnels that run throughout the body, transporting blood, without oxygen, from the body tissues back to the heart and lungs.  Veins have thin walls and contain valves that help to facilitate movement of blood to the heart.   Due to the structure of the veins, the muscles are responsible for contracting to compress the vein, pushing blood, against gravity, toward the heart.  


Varicose veins form as a result of either weakening of the vein wall,  the valve within the vein no longer functioning as intended, or both.  This can lead to the large, twisted, and purple veins that are seen on the legs, that swell, ache, and cramp.  


Certain conditions or factors can result in an increased risk for the development of varicose veins, such as being overweight or obese, age, sex, living a sedentary lifestyle, standing for long periods, and genetics.  The most common reason for the development of varicose veins or worsening varicose veins is sitting or standing for long periods of time.

To learn more about varicose vein prevention, contact Dr. Mackay at 1-727-261-0047 or fill out an appointment request form.

Meet ABMS Board Certified Surgeon, Dr. Mackay

 Contact the office of Dr. Edward Mackay, a board certified vascular surgeon providing services to patients in the Tampa area.