The 5 Life Hacks to Help Prevent Varicose Veins & Love Your Legs
Do your legs often feel tired, achy, and dull? Perhaps you’ve noticed a sneaky little vein protruding or appearing a little darker under your skin. You know that your job requires you to sit for long periods of time or stand for long periods of time. So you suspect that you might have or might be developing varicose veins.
What can you do?
The answer is not clear-cut, as the condition should be evaluated by a vein specialist. Yet, there are healthy tips to help prevent, relieve, and mitigate symptoms in some people with early-onset venous insufficiency.
Here’s what you need to know.
Associated Risk Factors — Are you at Risk for Varicose Veins?
There are small and incremental ways that a person can manage and maybe even slow down the problem of varicose veins. That is not to say that lifestyle changes are an overall cure for existing varicose veins; they often are not. A lot really depends on the degree of severity, age, and other factors. Yet, lifestyle factors and small incremental changes can make a difference.
Knowing who is or isn’t at risk of developing varicose veins is not yet an exact science. And yet, sufficient studies have been conducted to suggest that there are common risk factors—although people that exhibit these risk factors don’t always develop varicose veins. According to some studies, up to one-third of the Western adult population is affected by primary varicose veins. Several established risk factors include age, sex, pregnancy, obesity, raised body mass index, and even family history.
The Genetic Component
In one study, a history of varicose veins in one family was recalled in about 17% of patients. And, as some experts point out, some of the other risk factors—such as obesity—also have a genetic component that adds to the heritability of varicose veins.
In Japan, 42% of women with varicose veins reported that they had a family history of the condition. In a study conducted in the UK, 85% of patients with varicosities reported a family history.
Life Hacks and Tips to Prevent and Help with Varicose Veins
So if you have some of the risk factors associated with venous insufficiency or know that you have a family history of it, here are a few things you can do to show your legs some love and slow down the progression of symptoms, or—in some cases—alleviate some of the discomforts. Again, it all depends on your individual situation and it’s best to speak to an expert, but these life hacks can’t hurt!
Life Hack #1: Stay Active
There really is no way to avoid the fact that an active lifestyle is simply a central component of a person’s overall health and wellness. The question for many people is, what qualifies as an active lifestyle?
As a rule of thumb, exercising at least 3 times a week is a standard minimum for considering someone active. Most people, provided they are capable of it, should be engaged in more than that. The good news is that as you get your body moving, people begin to feel better and this encourages more movement.
Activities that are ideal for vein health include things like:
Life Hack #2: Incorporate Movement Into Your Day
Perhaps your job requires eight hours of sitting and your evenings are composed of helping kids with homework, making dinner, and other similar chores. This might seem like there is no time to get your legs active, but incorporating movement into your day every day makes a world of difference. So, why not get your own personal routine going that has you standing up every hour?
Let’s say for every hour that you sit down, you get up and walk and lift your legs for five minutes. At the end of a full workday, you would have some 20-25 minutes of purposeful movement of your legs. If you do this five days a week, that’s three hours of movement in addition to your exercise schedule.
Similarly, if your job requires constant standing, take 5-10 minutes every hour or so to sit down and raise your legs and move around. Incorporating movement into your day, however, should be focused and purposeful. Here are some ideas:
- Lift the leg up slowly as if a slow march
- 2-3 sets of 5-10 calf raises
- Walk up and down stairs available at the office or the workplace
Your leg muscles are your friends and the more you work them, the better. It gets the blood flowing and keeps muscles active.
Life Hack #3: Get Your Legs Up!
Even if it’s for a few minutes a day or at the end of the day, elevating your legs up can help prevent varicose veins from getting worse or even developing. You want to elevate the legs at or above heart level to keep blood from pooling in the calves. Place a small pillow at the bottom of the bed every day so that you don’t have to remember to do it once you are tired.
Having the pillow in place will make it easy and convenient. Once you lay down for the night, elevate the legs for a few minutes and let them rest. At work, use a footrest or footstool to keep the legs at a higher level. When sitting on the couch, use an ottoman or another footrest to keep the legs elevated as well.
Life Hack #4: Embrace the Compression
Compression stockings help with circulation and help relieve the symptoms associated with varicose veins. You can find compression stockings over the counter and in many retail stores. Medically prescribed compression stockings will usually be fitted and, ideally, would be tighter at the foot and slowly loosen as they go up the leg. They should fit snugly, but never be uncomfortably tight.
Life Hack #5: Eat a Balanced Diet
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a health regimen or plan that doesn’t recommend a balanced and healthy diet. That’s because your diet is your fuel. With low quality or insufficient fuel, the body simply doesn’t function as well. It affects our energy, motivation, and we need that in order to live an active lifestyle. So to complement the dedication for movement, eat well!
Don’t know where to begin on that? Start slow. Cut out processed sugars, then processed foods, and incorporate more greens and fruits and vegetables.
Talk to an Expert About Your Varicose Veins and Find Out More About What You Can Do
The good news is that for many patients who have a predisposition or have developed some varicose veins, it doesn’t always mean there will be complications. Many times, patients can mitigate the discomfort through lifestyle changes. More good news is that there are effective treatments for those that seek surgical intervention.
Knowing the risk factors associated with venous insufficiency and understanding what causes them can also help you make informed decisions and get inspired about your leg health.
Call EP Varicose Veins today and talk to one of our vein experts to find out more.
- Evans CJ, Fowkes FG, Ruckley CV, Lee AJ.Prevalence of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency in men and women in the general population: Edinburgh vein study.J Epidemiol Community Health. 1999; 53:149–153.
- Fiebig A, Krusche P, Wolf A, Krawczak M, Timm B, Nikolaus S, et al.. Heritability of chronic venous disease.Hum Genet. 2010; 127: 669–674.