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Busting the myth: Does exercise worsen vein disease?

Image of the back of a person going for a walk with their dog on a path that goes through a field of sunflowers.

It is common for those with varicose veins to believe that exercise will worsen their vein disease. Luckily, however, this is not true! While exercise won’t cure varicose vein disease, it may help to alleviate some of the symptoms. Why is this?

Varicose veins bulge because of the weakness in the valves that causes blood to backflow and become stagnant. Despite common belief, inactivity can worsen vein disease by worsening the stagnation of blood in the veins. On the other hand, when you exercise, the contraction of your calves pumps blood back to the heart through one-way functioning valves in your veins, especially through those in the deep system. This can move some of that stagnant blood from your leg that is causing varicose veins to bulge, thus improving symptoms such as pain, swelling, itching, burning, achiness, heaviness, and restlessness.

Exercise may help to alleviate certain symptoms of vein disease such as pain, swelling, itching, burning, achiness, heaviness, and restlessness.

Now that you know that exercise may alleviate some symptoms of varicose vein disease, you may be wondering what types of exercise are best. The best way for patients with varicose vein disease to exercise is by engaging in low impact activities like walking, swimming, yoga, and biking. However, if full exercise is not possible, simple calf raises will also help improve venous circulation. To do these, stand facing a wall or the back of a chair and simply raise your heel off the floor. You can start by doing this 20 times, then slowly increase that number as much as you can tolerate it.

Low impact activities such walking, swimming, yoga, and biking are best for patients with varicose vein disease.

While exercise may help alleviate symptoms of vein disease, it will not cure it. Luckily, Carolina Vein Institute can help you take care of your vein disease non-surgically with treatment options such as endovenous laser ablation, radiofrequency ablation, and endovenous microfoam ablation. Contact us for more information!