Varicose veins. Mention these words, and what immediately comes to mind are the large, raised, and typically dark blue veins found on the legs and feet that result from a pooling of blood in the veins of the extremities. The human body has an elegant system of working against gravity to get blood from the extremities all the way back to the heart: a series of valves in the veins act to stop blood from flowing backward and force upward movement. Unfortunately over time these valves are weakened and as we age, they no longer function as they should. Though unsightly and embarrassing, varicose veins are rarely painful and even less likely to be dangerous.
Varicose veins are a common ailment, affecting no less than 10 percent of American men and 20 percent of women. Women suffer from varicose veins more frequently as a result of hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy and menopause and because the increased blood volume during pregnancy stretches veins and weakens the valves within them. There’s not a lot you can do to prevent varicose veins, and once they appear there is no cure. Furthermore, the appearance of varicose veins is genetically predisposed, meaning if your parents are sufferers, there’s a great chance you will be as well. Despite this, there are several steps you can take to ease your discomfort and minimize the damage.
For a case of varicose veins that cause discomfort but are not physically debilitating, your physician will typically suggest support hose that can enhance blood circulation and prevent blood from pooling in the legs. Sclerotherapy, in which a saline solution is injected into the vein, collapsing its walls and essentially stopping blood flow is the most common treatment. In rare cases, varicose veins require surgery or laser treatment to remove.
Leading a healthy, active lifestyle will ease the discomforts of many common ailments and discomforts, and varicose veins are no exception. Taking the time to exercise, and monitoring your diet can go a long way to reducing the effects of varicose veins.
An Aspirin a Day – Taking half an aspirin morning and night will not only ease the discomfort of varicose veins, it will also increase blood mobility and help veins push blood upward against gravity.
Tilt Your Bed – Raising the bottom of your bed will elevate your feet. The idea here is to get gravity working for you (and your veins) instead of against.
Put up Your Feet – Changing position often and putting up your feet as often as you can.
Watch your Weight – Carrying extra weight is unhealthy. In addition, extra weight in your abdomen will create pressure on your groin and make it harder for blood to travel to your heart.
Minimize Salt Intake – Too much salt causes swelling which will make it harder for veins to pump blood upward.
Take Horse Chestnut – Horse Chestnut strengthens blood vessel walls, and reduces inflammation.
Add Blueberries and Raspberries to Your Diet – Any dark colored fruit or vegetable is rich in bioflavonoids. These compounds are responsible for strengthening the blood vessels and minimizing the appearance of varicose veins. The darker the fruit, the higher in bioflavonoids.
Exercise increases blood circulation, improves muscle tone, and helps fight obesity; all of which assist in keeping blood flowing up and out of your legs and help prevent the pooling of blood. Low impact exercise is of much more value to those prone to varicose veins since activities like jogging, or high-impact aerobics can exacerbate the problem by increasing blood pressure in the legs (which weakens the veins).
The best activities are swimming, walking, weight training, and yoga, though any exercise you enjoy will be beneficial in easing the discomfort.
Yoga poses that position the legs above the head can offer temporary relief and force blood out of the legs and back to the heart. Regular practice of these poses will help gravity work with your body to get blood up and out of the legs. The choice of poses will be based upon the time you have available, personal preference, and your experience level.
Viparita Karani – Legs-up-the-wall-pose is a passive pose that is great for beginners and experienced practitioners alike
Sarvangasana – Shoulder stand is said to be the best pose for easing the effects of varicose veins. It’s also a pose that is relatively simple for the novice practitioner. This pose should be practiced daily for three to five minutes..
Sirshasana – Headstand
Gomukhasana – Cow Face Pose
Savasana – Corpse Pose allows for whole-body relaxation and places the heart completely level with the rest of the body.