Varicose veins develop for various reasons. Risk factors include age, family history, being a woman, pregnancy, obesity, hormonal replacement or contraception therapy, prolonged sitting or standing, and others. Some of these risk factors — such as family history or age — are harder to avoid than others. But is there a way to prevent varicose veins from forming?
Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing
Standing or sitting in one position for a long time makes it harder for your blood to travel in the leg veins against gravity. This causes the pressure in your veins to rise. This can eventually cause blood to pool around your ankles, and your feet and calves can get swollen and achy.
Moving around will decrease the venous pressure and improve your blood circulation. If you’re stuck at a desk, do small exercises, such as:
- peddling your feet
- stretching your ankles
- bending your knees in a “marching-like” manner
Try to elevate your legs at least three times a day, for 15 minutes at a time. Elevating your feet above the heartbreaks the gravity circle. This results in better blood circulation and less ankle swelling.
Live a healthy lifestyle
Varicose veins can develop based on risk factors that you can’t influence. This makes it important to try to practice healthy lifestyle choices to prevent more damage to your veins.
Obesity, with higher pressure inside the veins, is one of the aggravating factors. Eating a healthy diet based on complex carbohydrates, a sufficient amount of protein and healthy fats is paramount. Avoid foods high in salt, and include foods high in fiber and potassium. Drink enough water throughout the day — proper hydration means healthy blood circulation.
Exercise should be part of your routine
The most beneficial exercise to prevent varicose veins is walking.
Yoga is a good option as well. You can practice many poses that bring your feet higher than your heart. These are called inversions, and they include a headstand, shoulder stand, and Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose.
Yoga can also help stretch and tone the deepest muscles in your calves and hamstrings. The deep muscles can, to a certain degree, help the vein valves work properly. Stretching and toning poses include Downward-Facing Dog Pose, most forward-bend poses, and sun salutations.
Other types of beneficial exercise include cycling and swimming.
Start by working out. “Exercise helps control weight and keep leg muscles fit,” says Weiss. Try low-impact activities, like swimming and biking, which don’t put undue strain on the legs. Beyond exercise, opt for flats over heels, because they allow the calf muscles to contract fully. At the end of the day, sit with your legs propped higher than your heart for 10 to 15 minutes to help drain any pooled blood. And if visible veins run in your family, and especially if your legs ache, consider wearing support hose as often as possible.