It’s common knowledge that sitting or standing for long periods can contribute to the development and worsening of varicose veins. But to what extent is walking good for varicose veins and the associated symptoms? Here, we explore how gentle hikes can help you deal with this common condition.
What causes varicose veins?
Before we get into the pros and cons of exercising with varicose veins, it’s important to understand the causes and underlying pathophysiological processes that contribute to their development.
Heredity, various health conditions, lifestyle factors or a combination of all three can contribute to the formation and worsening of varicose veins. And while a family tendency towards them is unavoidable, certain steps can be taken to minimise risk.
Varicose veins develop when the valves responsible for stopping blood from pooling due to gravity weaken. Instead of supporting the circulation of blood back up to the heart, blood pools within the vein, causing swelling and bulging of the vein walls.
Varicose veins and walking
While exercise is good for venous health in general, lower limb movement includes contraction of the calf muscle, helping blood to flow upwards and decreasing pressure on the veins. For many, running seems like an obvious place to begin; however, any jarring movement will put additional pressure on the veins and may cause discomfort. A balance between low-impact activity and aerobic, circulation-boosting movement is the goal.
Both swimming and cycling are good choices for varicose veins too, but for many, walking provides a more easily accessible option for slotting in throughout the day – especially important if desk-bound or standing for long periods.
Can walking cure varicose veins?
Unfortunately, no. Exercise, in addition to other lifestyle habits, plays a huge part in preventing and slowing down the progression of varicose veins on both a local and systemic level. But, due to the structural changes in the development of varicose veins, only specialist clinical procedures can make promises of long-term relief from the condition. Thankfully, there are now a variety of non-surgical, cost-effective treatments available, and we offer the most effective of those treatments here at Premier Veins. Incorporating a regular exercise routine into your life after a short recovery period from our walk-in, walk-out treatments will help you to minimise the risk of future varicose veins.
Get your boots on!
Not sure how to take the first step towards a regular gentle walking habit? Consider joining one of the many friendly walking groups near you for some company while you work those legs!
Here are a few groups to get in touch with in the West Midlands:
And of course, don’t forget about The Ramblers Association if you want to take your walking up a notch, or try Geocaching for an extra fun challenge!