Top exercises to avoid if you have varicose veins

Exercising regularly is a wonderful way to deal with symptoms caused by varicose veins. It can help reduce leg pain and slow the progression of varicose vein disease. 

Exercising can also help control your weight, which lowers your risk factor of developing varicose veins to begin with. Varicose veins are chronic and progressive — they don’t get better on their own, and they will get worse over time. Treatment is the only way to get rid of varicose veins for good, but exercise is one way to alleviate symptoms. 

Still, you have to be careful with what type of exercises you do. 

Avoid lifting heavy weights if you have varicose veins

Varicose veins are very common. Around 23% of Americans have them, and they’re primarily a genetic condition. They’re caused by malfunctioning vein valves. Healthy leg veins contain one-way valves that recirculate blood back to your heart. When they become weakened and malfunction, the blood is no longer sent back to the heart the way it’s supposed to. That causes the blood to pool in your veins, resulting in varicose veins. 

Lifting weights increases the amount of pressure on your veins. Because of that, lifting weights is an exercise you should avoid if you have varicose veins. If you haven’t already seen a doctor about your varicose veins, consult one before starting or continuing weightlifting. It can be dangerous because the strain, along with increased abdominal pressure, can reduce the blood flow out of your legs returning to your heart. 

This can cause the blood to pool, which increases the pressure in the veins in your legs. If you want to strength train, do more repetitions with lighter weights to avoid straining. Also, keep your legs at the same level or higher than your heart. 

Pro tip: Avoid holding your breath while lifting weights! 

Walk, don’t run, if you have varicose veins

Although you can still run or jog if you have varicose veins, it’s better to walk. Running and jogging are great aerobic exercises, boost circulation, and strengthen your calf muscles, but they can be hard on your joints and leg veins. (If you don’t have varicose veins, running and jogging won’t induce them.) Pain in your legs, swelling and leg fatigue can become worse the more you run.  

If running is something you just can’t do without, consider running on softer surfaces like grass instead of concrete. You can also:

  • Buy very well-cushioned shoes to act as a shock absorber
  • Wear compression socks to compress your veins and tighten your calf muscles so that blood is forced back up to your heart
  • Take breaks and switch to low-aerobic exercises

The best course of action is to get treated for your varicose veins at East Tennessee Vein Clinic so you can get back to the healthy lifestyle you love. 

Varicose veins and exercises that involve your abdominal muscles

Sit-ups, crunches, and even strenuous yoga may need to be avoided if you have varicose veins. That’s because these all involve your abdominal muscles displacing pressure down your veins, which can have the same effect as lifting heavy weights. 

Try these exercises instead:

  • Calf raises to strengthen your calf muscles and improve blood flow
  • Thigh raises
  • Any low-impact aerobic exercise like bicycling 

No matter what type of exercise you’re doing, wear compression stockings to avoid making your symptoms worse. 

Don’t avoid exercise if you have varicose veins

Despite all these precautions, exercise is important, so don’t avoid it out of fear of complicating your varicose vein symptoms. Your leg muscles help your veins push blood to the heart. This helps in preventing the blood from pooling in your legs, which is what contributes to varicose veins. Leg lifts and lunges, along with anything else that strengthens your leg muscles, are great exercises to help deal with symptoms caused by varicose veins. With stronger leg muscles and improved circulation, you could start to see some of your varicose vein symptoms improve. 

Create an exercise plan that you can stick with and that you enjoy. If you move for just two minutes every 30 minutes — whether you’re at work or at home — you’ll have added a little more than 30 minutes of exercise to your daily work routine. 

As we mentioned earlier, exercise can’t heal varicose veins. The only thing that can do that is medical treatment. 

Varicose veins are a chronic, progressive condition that only worsens over time. The best way to prevent complications like venous skin ulcers is to ensure they never happen.

Contact us at East Tennessee Vein Clinic to get help for your varicose veins. We treat varicose veins differently by eliminating the entire network of failed veins, not just large visibly bulging veins. You can contact us online, or call us at 865.686.0507 or toll-free at 866.281.VEIN.

“Your staff is very helpful and always I felt “well cared for.” I don’t see much way that you could improve the care and services. Thanks for your good service!”

- D. B., Maryville, TN