Most people associate varicose veins with being overweight, inactivity, or standing for extended period of times. Indeed, some level of physical activity can improve blood flow in your leg veins and reduce the risk of varicose veins.

Exercise and Varicose Veins: The Dos and Don'ts | Vein Specialist

However, venous diseases are hereditary and are known to affect healthy people and athletes. In fact, some kinds of exercises can increase the risk of varicose and spider veins.

Vein specialists agree that some exercises help to develop your calf muscles, promote healthy blood circulation in your legs, and reduce the risk of vein disease. Before starting your exercise routine, it is recommended that you seek professional advice about the beneficial exercises. Here are some common do’s and don’ts:

The Do’s

  • Low-impact activities that target your calf pump are best for improving blood circulation. These including walking, swimming, cycling, and elliptical for about 30 minutes a day.
  • Walking is the number one recommended activity for improving lower extremity circulation. 30 minutes a day for 5 days should be sufficient.
  • Elliptical and stationary bike riding also target the calf muscle without exerting too much pressure on your joints.
  • Jogging or running on a grassy surface or synthetic track is also good for your calf muscles while reducing the stress on your joints from the high-impact of hard surfaces.
  • Light resistance training using lower weights, high repetitions, good lifting techniques, and incorporating aerobic activities such as riding a stationary bike or walking after every workout session to help the muscles relax.


  • Jump roping is as bad as running on hard surfaces because it stresses your feet and joints, which may worsen varicose vein swelling.
  • Heavy resistance training or weightlifting tends to increase abdominal pressure, which in turn impedes blood flow from your lower extremities towards your heart.
  • Strenuous activities such as lunges, crunches, sit ups, and prolonged abdominal posturing. Alternatively, you can do them in combination with aerobic exercises and in short segments.

Promote Healthy Blood Flow In Your Legs

Calf exercises are important for healthy blood flow in your legs and to reduce the risk of varicose veins. If you don’t have the time to exercise, you shouldn’t wear high heels except for special occasions because they weaken the calf muscle and impede circulation.

Instead, rock your feet on the ground from heel to toe when sitting or standing to engage these muscles. Also talk to your vein specialist in Ventura & Los Angeles about getting you customized compression stockings to wear when sitting or standing for extended periods, like due to pregnancy or when traveling.

Pain in your legs is a common occurrence after sustaining an injury, or due to a medical condition or other non-traumatic cause. Leg pain and swelling can also be caused by injury or inflammation of blood vessels, muscles, joints, bones, nerves, or other structures in the leg, or radiate from other parts of your body, like from a blood clot in the large veins in the legs, pelvis, or abdomen and be felt in the leg.

Leg Pain & Swelling | Vein Specialist in Ventura & Los Angeles

Whether the pain in your leg is due to trauma or a nontraumatic event, it is important that you visit your physician in Ventura or Los Angeles for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your physician or specialist will likely have a lot of questions about your medical history, occupation, activities that reduce or increase the pain, and so on.

Some of the things that your physician will consider when diagnosing your case include:

1. Extent of the pain

When examining your legs, your doctor will want to know the location or origin of the pain and whether it moves to the ankle, foot, toes, or other areas of the leg; the time of day when the pain and swelling is at its worst; the events that cause a flare up or help to relieve the pain; the time of day when the pain is most tolerable; whether the pain occurs a few days a month due to hormonal changes, and so on.

2. Your medical history

It is important that you provide your doctor with your complete medical history, including any heart conditions or thyroid, kidney, or liver problems. Keep in mind that the symptoms may be associated with arthritis or some medications you’re taking.

3. Your lifestyle habits

Your physician will also investigate your eating, sleeping, and activity levels as they may contribute to the problem. For instance, being overweight, inactive, and sleeping in a recliner could strain blood flow in the veins of your legs, leading to pain and swelling.

Treating Leg Pain and Swelling

There are many ways to treat leg pain and swelling, ranging from massage and physical therapy to wearing compression stockings to minimally invasive surgical procedures to remove troublesome veins. It is important that you visit your physician in Ventura & Los Angeles as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and timely and personalized treatment.

If you have a venous disease, your physician has probably advised you to stay away from hot water in spas and saunas, and even hot weather, because the heat causes your veins to dilate. This weakens the walls and causes pressure to build up, allowing blood to flow back and pool.

Cold Weather and Your Veins | Vein Specialist in Ventura and Los Angeles

Conversely, cold temperatures cause the veins to constrict, allowing them to function optimally and prevent pressure from increasing around the calves and ankles. This translates to minimal pain and reduced risk of swelling.

That said, extremely cold weather can be detrimental to the health of your veins in the following ways:

1. Changes in atmospheric pressure

Venous problems typically arise from increased pressure in the venous system due to a number of factors, including weight gain, prolonged standing or sitting, or even changes in atmospheric pressure. Severe cold weather can cause your body to feel heavier and inhibit proper blood flow in the veins, resulting in varicose or spider veins.

2. Slow down body functions

While cold weather increases metabolism to generate heat, it also slows down body functions to save energy. This includes lower blood circulation, which is made worse by physical inactivity. Without adequate pressure in the venous system to push blood against gravity, blood can begin to flow back and pool, creating varicose veins.

3. Lifestyle changes

From inactivity to dietary changes, cold weather causes you to change your normal routine to make life easier, but not necessarily healthier. Cold weather may cause you to sit or lay on your sofa or bed for extended periods as you watch TV or browse the internet, as you indulge in cookies, snacks, and other unhealthy foods. You may also change your diet to include fatty soups and stews to help you keep warm, resulting in weight gain and increased pressure in your venous system.

How to counter the cold for healthy veins

When indoors, consider relaxing with your legs elevated to make it easier for blood in your legs to return to the heart. Also walk around your home to stretch your legs, and massage your feet and ankles when possible. Lastly, take the opportunity to prepare healthy homemade foods rich in omega-3s and fiber to help improve blood circulation.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many people will be planning trips to the mountains or the beach; or taking long flights to international destinations. Considering that travel usually involves extended periods of queuing and/or sitting, it is important that you ensure the optimal health of your veins, especially if you’re at risk of getting varicose veins.

Tips for Relief from Varicose Veins While Traveling | Vein Specialist

Here are a few tips to maintain vein health while traveling:

Stretch your legs every few hours

If traveling long distances by road, whether driving or by bus, it is recommended that you stop every few hours to stretch your legs.

Pump your legs/ankles on the plane

Air travel poses a major risk for venous problems, from the confined space in a narrow seat to the restricted mobility to the slow blood circulation when flying at high altitudes. These situations cause pressure to build up in your veins, resulting in restlessness, heaviness and an achy feeling in the legs, and other symptoms associated with varicose veins.

For people with vein disease, air travel may increase the risk of venous thrombosis, where blood clots in your deep veins break off, travel to your lungs, and cause difficulty in breathing.

If possible, it is recommended that you stand up and walk on the cabin aisle regularly. If getting up is not an option, consider pumping the calf muscle while sitting. With your foot on the ground, raise the heel so your tippy toes support your leg on the ground, and then return to the original position. Do this multiple times to engage the calf muscle, which will in turn help to pump blood from the leg veins to the heart.

Keep well hydrated

Avoid the temptation of consuming snacks, sweets, alcohol, and other items that dehydrate your body. Instead, drink water or another nonalcoholic and decaffeinated beverage to stay hydrated and keep your lips moist, improve your mood, and avoid bad breath. Staying hydrated helps to prevent the veins from narrowing. It also reduces the risk of constipation, which is known to stress the venous system.

Get a support hose

Compression stockings are designed to physically squeeze your foot and calf muscles to facilitate steady blood flow in the venous system. Visit a vein specialist to get custom stockings that provide just the right amount of compression, and put them on before setting off.

Final tip

If you notice swelling of the legs or chest pain or shortness of breath soon after traveling, you should visit the nearest hospital for evaluation.