Varicose veins can develop when small valves in the veins become weak. These valves usually stop blood flowing backward through the veins, and when they are damaged blood can pool in the veins. This causes twisted and swollen veins that also become very visible.
Varicose veins can be noticeable because of their dark blue or purple appearance, they also often bulge out from underneath the skin.
If you have varicose veins, there are options for helping alleviate the symptoms, or improving their appearance. Here are four key elements to any varicose vein treatment plan.
- Keep Moving
Staying active encourages better blood circulation in the legs, which helps to push along the blood that has collected in the veins. Exercise also helps to lower a person’s blood pressure, which is another contributing factor to varicose veins.
Low-impact exercises help to get the calf muscles working without excessive strain. Effective, low-impact exercises include swimming, walking, cycling, and yoga.
Avoid sitting for long periods of time. If a person has to sit for long periods of time for work, they should aim to get up and move around or change position frequently to keep the blood flowing smoothly.
Avoid sitting with crossed legs, as this can further restrict blood flow to the legs and feet, which may add to circulation problems.
- Change Your Clothing
Compression stockings are available from most pharmacies and can help by applying pressure to the legs. This aids the muscles and veins to move blood toward the heart.
A study from 2018 found that people who used knee-high compression stockings with a pressure of 18 to 21 mmHg for one week, reported a reduction in the pain and aching associated with varicose veins. Compression stockings can be found in pharmacies or online stores.
Wearing tight-fitting clothes can restrict blood flow. A person may find that their circulation is improved by wearing loose-fitting clothes that do not restrict the blood supply to the lower body. As well, wearing flat shoes instead of high heels may help with varicose veins in the legs.
- Change Up Your Diet
There are a few diet changes you can make to help improve your venous health. Here are some important ingredients to look out for.
Salty or sodium-rich foods can cause the body to retain water, so cutting down on salty food can minimize water retention. Foods high in potassium can help to reduce water retention. Potassium-high foods, such as almonds and pistachio nuts, can help varicose veins by reducing water retention in the body. Foods that are high in potassium include almonds and pistachio nuts, lentils and white beans, potatoes, leafy vegetables, salmon and tuna.
Foods with fiber help to keep the bowels moving and prevent constipation. This may be important, as straining can aggravate damaged valves or make them worse. Foods that are high in fiber include nuts, seeds, and legumes, oats, wheat, and flaxseed, whole-grain foods.
Adding foods that contain flavonoids may also help a person to shrink their varicose veins. Flavonoids improve blood circulation, which will keep the blood flowing, and make it less likely to pool in the veins. They also help to reduce blood pressure in the arteries and can relax blood vessels, all of which can reduce varicose veins. Foods that contain flavonoids include vegetables, including onions, bell peppers, spinach, and broccoli, citrus fruits and grapes, cherries, apples, and blueberries, cocoa, and garlic.
- Take Care Of Your Legs
Most of all, make sure you give your legs a break. After all, they do a lot for you. You should aim to keep their legs elevated if you’re going to be sitting down for long periods of time, such as during work or relaxing at home.
Keeping the legs elevated, ideally at the same height as the heart or above it will help to improve circulation. This reduces the pressure in the leg veins and gravity will help the blood to flow smoothly back to the heart.
Gently massaging the affected areas can help to keep the blood moving through the veins. A person can use gentle massage oils or moisturizer for optimal effects. It is crucial to avoid pressing directly onto the veins, however, as this may damage fragile tissues.