Exercise can play a critical part in the treatment and prevention of varicose veins. This statement is as true for anyone trying to get rid of their varicose veins naturally at home, as it is for anyone that has already undergone surgery. Exercise will help circulation, stimulate blood flow and build strength, in addition to helping with overall health and wellness.
A word of warning however. As we found out, not all exercise is an ideal treatment for varicose veins. The right exercise will alleviate pain from existing varicose veins and discourage the development of new ones. These routines are usually of the moderate and low impact variety, and we go into details about them below. On the other hand, some other exercises, especially anything strenuous, may make matters worse.
People seem to often shy away from exercise for varicose veins treatment. They associate exercising with significant effort and being a big time sink. That’s how I initially saw it. In reality, the vast majority of the varicose veins exercises are easy to perform and take no more than a few minutes a day. While, in the beginning, my wife Melinda and I were a little concerned about working them into our daily schedules, in the end, it turned out to be no hassle at all. The time we spent exercising also turned into nice quality time we got spent together every day.
Below is a list of exercises that we have identified and used that are beneficial to varicose veins treatment. For all of them, moderation is key. Don’t over do it. Perform the exercises gently, especially at first, and if you experience any unusual pain or discomfort, please stop. Also, if possible, after performing any exercise, try to rest your legs in an elevated position to make it easier for your blood to circulate properly.
Walking is by far the simplest thing you can do. Just get your legs moving. Even a total 10 to 15 minutes of daily walking should be enough to significantly improve circulation in the legs and help manage varicose veins. There are a few things we did to encourage walking more, which when added up easily helped us exceed our daily goals.
We used stairs instead of elevators or escalators. When driving to a mall, or anywhere else for that matter, we parked a little further away so we could walk a bit longer (as a bonus, the odds of finding parking increase too). We tried to spare 5 minutes before or after work, or during our lunch breaks, to do a quick loop around the block. We also extensively used Fitbits to help keep track of our walking. We found that being able to track our progress definitely helped to keep us motivated.
Using a bicycle is a great low impact exercise, and does wonders for increasing the blood flow in your legs. You don’t have to cycle for distance or speed. The key again is to keep your legs moving, which you can easily do by keeping a lighter pace. A stationary bike is just as good as a regular road bicycle. Any amount cycling you do on top of your daily walking will help tremendously.
Practicing Yoga regularly will benefit the calves, hamstrings, and quads by tightening and lengthening the muscles. These benefits will improve circulation and help regulate blood flow in and out of the legs. In addition to regular practice, there are several individual poses that stand on their own (no pun intended). They ease pressure on the blood vessels by draining blood from the legs to the heart.
As both Melinda and I are far from being yoga masters, I won’t attempt to explain these poses. I will instead point you to the excellent eBook Varicose Veins Secrets by Diane Thompson, which was our reference for varicose veins friendly Yoga. You can also alternative try this brief free guide to Yoga poses that will improve circulation.
To do this exercise, you lie flat on your back and place your hands under your buttocks to prevent strain on your lower back. Doing the latter will elevate your hips slightly and push your lower back into the ground. Bend both legs at the knee and lift them off the floor. Start pedaling as though you were riding a bicycle. If you prefer, you can alternate between your legs by pedaling one at a time, which is what we did initially. Try doing this for about a minute, ideally a few times a day. It is perfectly okay to take breaks if you can’t pedal for a full minute. Remember, avoiding strain is key.
Assume the same position as for the pedaling exercise above. Lie flat on your back with your hands under your buttocks. On at a time, slowly lift your leg so that it is as perpendicular to the floor as you can get it. Hold that position for as long as you comfortably can, again without straining. You should feel the blood flow down your leg, from the ankles towards the thigh. Lower the first leg and do the same sequence with the other. Repeat this 2 or 3 times for each leg.
If you prefer or if it is easier for you, this exercise can also be performed by lying down on the floor with your buttocks close to a wall and your body perpendicular to it. You can then lift and rest both of your legs against the wall. Doing this was a big help for us initially before we built up some strength.
Stand with straight legs and lift your toes off the ground keeping your heels firmly planted. Then slowly rise onto your toes, lifting your heels off the ground. Slowly return to the start position. You’re basically just rocking on your feet back and forth, heel to toe. Repeat this motion a dozen time and the exercise several times a day. We found this one especially easy to work into our day to day. The next time you’re drying your hands, brushing your teeth, or standing at an ATM, just kill the time by rock back and forth a bit.
Exercises To Avoid
There are also exercises you should try to avoid if you suffer from varicose veins. Anything strenuous, such as weightlifting, is not recommended. When lifting heavy weights, you tend to increase the pressure in your abdomen to gain stability. Doing so will interfere with the blood’s ability to make its way from the legs back up to the heart. Blood may then begin to pool in the legs, resulting in increased pressure there and blood flow reversal into the varicose veins.
If you must weightlift, favor routines that use lower weights and higher repetition. Pay attention to your breathing, exhaling as you lift. Immediately after you finish your workout, work in aerobic activity such as walking or riding a stationary bike. Doing the latter will help the blood circulate again. Wearing compression stockings during the workout is also a great idea, as this will assist the blood in moving back up to the heart.
Improving your blood circulation and muscle tone with the exercises listed above will help treat your existing varicose veins and reduce the risk of developing new ones. If you feel like you need further guidance, we recommend picking up Diane Thompson’s excellent eBook on how to get rid of varicose veins naturally. In it, she outlines daily exercise plans that were great starting points for us. She also covers how to best combine exercise with herbal remedies. We relied pretty heavily on Diane’s book in the early days of treating our varicose veins, and still continue to reference it today.