Varicose veins can be caused by many things; some of which cannot be avoided such as age, genetics and pregnancy. However, did you know that your lifestyle could be contributing to your risk of developing and worsening these unsightly and sometimes dangerous veins?
Here are 5 habits which can potentially contribute to varicose veins:
- Failing to build or maintain muscles in the legs: If you’re guilty of not exercising the leg muscles as much as you should, it can lead to unsightly varicose veins. As you lose muscle mass, it starts to cause gaps within the muscle which encourage the veins to dilate. So, which is the best exercise for preventing varicose veins and which can actually make them worse?
- Pumping iron: Exercise, in general, is good for vein health; blood is pumped back to the heart from the calf muscles and strong calves promote healthy blood circulation which in turn minimises venous disease. However, some forms of exercise are better than others. Walking is the best exercise you can do because it’s low impact and stretches and strengthens the calf pump. A stationary bike or elliptical also work in the same way. Weight lifting, on the other hand, puts a strain on venous circulation. As blood flows back to the heart from the legs, it passes through the vena cava situated in the abdomen. Weight lifting puts pressure on the core muscles in the abdomen which can impede blood flow, causing venous blood to pool in the leg veins.
- Indulging in a high-salt diet: Too much salt can have all kinds of negative effects on the health, but many are unaware that varicose veins are one of them. The trouble is, too much sodium can lead to water retention. This, in turn, causes an increase in the blood volume, placing extra pressure onto the valves of the veins. Over time, they start to get weaker and the veins in the legs become more prominent.
- Wearing nothing but high heels: If the only footwear you own are high heels, your chance of developing varicose veins is higher than it would be otherwise. The calf muscles play an important role in pumping the blood from the legs, up to the heart. The position these muscles are placed in when you’re wearing high heels, prevents them from being able to pump the blood effectively, potentially causing it to build up in the legs.
- Sitting at your desk for long periods of time: Sitting for long periods of time can greatly exacerbate varicose veins; our leg muscles function as the pump that drives venous blood back to the heart and gravity can cause it to pool in the legs. However, it’s good to know that one persistent myth about varicose veins isn’t true: crossing your legs won’t cause them.
As you can see, there are some pretty surprising causes of varicose veins which many people are simply unaware of. If you’ve developed varicose veins, it’s important to seek treatment as early as possible. Book a consultation at the Cornwall Vein Clinic to find out about the wide range of treatments available today.