July 13


Does exercise make veins better or worse?

By Dr. Edward Mackay

July 13, 2020

Exercise is a positive physical activity for just about every aspect of health, including varicose veins. Varicose veins form from the inability of the one-way valves to close properly causing pooling of blood, stretching of veins, and high pressure within the vein. This cascade of problems leads to the swollen, protruding veins, swollen legs, and leg cramping that all can be symptoms of varicose veins. How can exercise make veins better?

Exercise helps your veins by the muscle contraction pushing on the veins to help move blood back toward the heart. Strengthening the calf muscle also helps push blood through the veins back to the heart.
To learn more contact Dr. Mackay at 1-800-527-8346 or fill out an appointment request form.

Here is How Exercise Helps the Veins

Exercise causes constant contraction of the muscles in the legs. The action of muscle contraction pushes on the veins to help move blood back toward the heart, improving circulation. This helps with the pooling of blood and in turn, benefits the symptoms of swelling and cramping.

Exercises that are best for varicose veins are low-impact, such as:

  • walking
  • biking
  • swimming

These exercises help to contract and strengthen the calf muscle to help push blood through the veins. Besides aerobic exercises, calf raises and thigh raises are strengthening resistance exercises that can also strengthen calf muscles.


Vein Exercise Ideas

Calf raises are performed by alternating between raising your heel off the ground and then back to the ground. Thigh raises are performed by moving from a sitting to standing position. It is best to perform multiple repetitions of these exercises several times throughout the day.

Video: Understanding Venous Disease

Dr. Edward Mackay gives you a basic understand about Venous Disease.

To learn more contact Dr. Mackay at 1-800-527-8346 or fill out an appointment request form.

Exercises to Avoid if you have Vein Issues

Even though exercise is beneficial for varicose veins, not all exercises are created equal and in fact, some may worsen varicose veins.

  1. Running is an excellent exercise, but it can place more pressure on the veins in the legs. In order to make running a better exercise for varicose veins, the use of compression stockings while running and running on softer surfaces, are better for veins.
  2. Weightlifting activities can also place more pressure on the veins in the abdomen, by increasing abdominal pressure, reducing the ability for blood to flow back to the heart.
  3. Other exercises that should be avoided require more posturing in the abdomen that can increase the pressure, such as crunches, sit-ups, squats, and certain poses in yoga. 

Before Exercising, Contact a Vascular Surgeon to make sure it is right for you.

Before starting any new exercise regimen, please speak with your vascular surgeon to determine what exercises are best suited to stave off or treat the symptoms of varicose veins. 

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