8 At Home Varicose Vein Exercises
So, you have varicose veins… well, you’re in good company. Chronic venous insufficiency or CVI affects roughly 1 in 10 men and 1 in 3 women in the United States! There are many factors that lead to varicose vein disease, some of the most common are family history, advanced age, injuries, surgeries, hormones, and pregnancy.
But what causes our healthy veins to become varicose veins?
To understand this, let’s focus on the circulatory system. In a healthy functioning circulatory system the arteries carry oxygenated, nutrient rich blood away from the heart and out to the cells. Then, just like a public transit system, the oxygen and nutrients hop off the train and the carbon dioxide and waste products hop on, via the veins. The train then travels back toward the heart and lungs, exchanging the carbon dioxide for fresh oxygen before starting the trip again out to the cells.
When a train breaks down a backup in the system can develop – which worsens over time. This is the same premise for the veins in your legs. Veins use a series of one-way valves and leg muscle contractions to fight gravity to return the blood up the legs and towards your heart and lungs. If these valves fail, or the muscle pumps become ineffective, venous flow can slow down or even reverse. This causes the veins to stretch, eventually becoming tortuous, which creates what is known as a varicose vein.
Varicose veins can make you feel self-conscious, and can cause a variety of symptoms as well, including pain, fatigue and heaviness. I know that exercising can seem daunting, especially when your legs feel painful; but trust me, it does help. Although going to the gym is a great idea, it’s not necessary.
At home exercises for varicose veins
Let’s look at some varicose vein exercises we can do from the comfort of our homes to help our legs feel better.
Yep, you saw that right – we’re going back to basics with this one. Walking does not get the credit it deserves. It is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. It is a low-impact workout that helps to keep you at a healthy weight as well as helps to keep your blood pressure at a safe level. On top of that, it strengthens your bones and muscles and does so without putting any strain on your body.
Unless you have a treadmill, this exercise technically isn’t done at home. However, it doesn’t necessitate going to a gym and can be done just around your neighborhood.
This is another great low-impact workout that can get your heart rate up and help you achieve the suggested daily 30 minutes of exercise goal. Cycling promotes healthy circulation while keeping your joints safe from heavy impact.
You can either opt for a stationary bike at home or get a mobile one to ride around the neighborhood.
This exercise is easy to do at home and doesn’t require any equipment. You can add on some light hand weights if you want to add a bit of challenge to the exercise. Regardless of whether you have hand weights or not, lunges are a great way to work several different muscle groups in your legs (hint: this helps you use several of those necessary “muscle pumps” we talked about earlier). Because of that, they help to promote healthy blood flow.
How to do it:
Stand with your feet apart. Step forward with one leg and bend your knee. Make sure to keep your knee directly above your ankle. Hold for a couple of seconds, return to your starting position, and then switch legs.
Repeat 15 times on each side.
4. Calf Raises
Want a quick and easy workout you can do in front of the TV? Calf raises are what you’re looking for. They are low-impact, safe, and help get the blood flowing in your calves and feet.
How to do it:
Stand with your legs slightly apart. Rise up onto your tiptoes and then lower back down. You can either do it while holding onto a wall or a chair or without.
Who hasn’t done a squat or two, even if it was just to pick up something we dropped on the floor! This exercise actives the calf and thigh muscle pumps and helps propel that venous flow out of your legs.
How to do it:
Place your feet shoulder width apart and turn your toes ever so slightly out so you don’t hurt your knees. Push your chest slightly forward while keeping your back straight and squat as low as you can go without hurting. Try to get your thighs parallel with the ground if you can. As you stand back up, squeeze your thighs and gluts. Try to shoot for 30 or more, even if you break them up into sets of 10.
6. Bicycle Kicks
Chances are good you’ve done this exercise at some point in your life, but probably didn’t know that you were promoting healthy veins by doing so. Bicycle kicks move your body in a way that helps blood to reach different parts of your legs, especially if you vary the speed at which you do the exercise.
How to do it:
Lay on a mat with your hands behind your head and legs at a 90-degree angle. Kick your right leg out as you twist your upper body to meet your bent, left knee. Then switch. Keep “cycling” in this fashion for at least 1 minute.
7. Foot Rock
More of a stretch than a true exercise, the foot rock does wonders for stretching out the muscles in your feet. This move also helps to improve your muscle strength and of course, your circulation.
Whether it is in your back yard, the local rec center, the ocean and even a local pond, swimming is one of the best things you can do for your body. Not only does the pressure from the water add a level a compression on your veins, but the movements work many of the muscles in your body including the muscles in your legs and feet.
Some of the many benefits of exercising include helping to keep you at a healthy weight and decrease the risk of health issues such as cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes. In fact, did you know that 30 minutes of moderate activity a day can reduce stress, improve focus, and sleep quality!?
While exercise cannot truly prevent or rid you of your varicose veins, exercise for varicose veins can help relieve symptoms and some evidence suggests it may even slow the progression of the vein disease. Better health, less stress, improved sleep and help with varicose vein disease progression and symptoms – what are you waiting for? Try these varicose vein exercises today.
Interested in reading more about how exercise can help with your vein health? Explore our collection of exercise topics.