The Connection Between Varicose Veins and Your Lifestyle

varicose veins lifestyle

If you have varicose veins, you may wonder why you have them and how you can prevent them from getting worse. Sometimes uncontrollable factors like genetics or age play a role in the development of varicose veins. However, lifestyle choices can often contribute substantially to this medical condition. Several seemingly harmless choices or habits can increase your risk of developing varicose veins.

Prolonged Standing or Sitting

When you sit or stand for long periods of time, your veins put more effort into pumping blood from the lower legs back to the heart. This is especially true if you tend to sit with your legs bent. It’s important to take frequent breaks from sitting or standing to move around. Whenever you are sitting or lying down, try to keep them elevated. This will reduce strain on your veins.

General Inactivity

For the reasons mentioned above, a sedentary lifestyle can contribute substantially to varicose veins. Incorporating moderate exercise or even mild activity into your life on a regular basis can help get your blood flowing more effectively. Walking, bicycling, or performing targeted exercises can also strengthen your leg muscles. Building stronger muscles helps keep your circulatory system healthy, especially in your legs.

Weight Gain

There are a few reasons that extra body weight can promote circulatory problems. First, the type of diet that is often associated with weight gain can cause plaque buildup in your blood vessels, which narrows them and impedes circulation. Second, extra weight can exert increased pressure on your veins. This increases the likelihood of valves being damaged and blood backing up instead of circulating properly.

Heeled Footwear

For women in particular, choice of footwear can contribute to varicose veins. Heels that are more than 1.5 inches tall prevent the calf from contracting fully when you walk. This is problematic because this contraction helps push blood in the lower legs back toward the heart. Wearing shorter heels ensures that more blood is pumped to the upper leg every time you take a step.

Restrictive Clothing

Tight-fitting clothing can create pressure and make it difficult for blood to travel from the lower legs back to the upper body. This, in turn, makes valve failure and the backflow of blood more likely. It’s important to note that pressure isn’t always a negative influence. Compression stockings and similar garments are designed to create a pressure differential between the lower and upper leg, encouraging blood to circulate upward. However, clothing that creates too much pressure around the upper thighs and waist will only worsen varicose veins.

Managing Varicose Veins

Many people are surprised to learn how many lifestyle factors can contribute to varicose veins. This may seem alarming, but it also means that simple lifestyle changes can often help prevent or relieve symptoms of the condition. Although some people may require additional treatment, such as medical procedures to remove or close the veins, lifestyle adjustments are often the first measure that medical professionals recommend.

If you would like to consult with a vein specialist, call Northern Illinois Vein Clinic today at (815) 315-1894 to schedule your next appointment.