One day as you are sitting at your desk working, you notice a pain on the top of your foot. You look down and are shocked to see an ugly bulging vein! Chances are you are familiar with this sight, because they often run in families. They are called varicose veins.
What are varicose veins and what causes them? Can we prevent them? Varicose veins are veins that result from poorly working valves within the veins. The veins are filled with blood on the return trip to the heart. That blood is on an one way street. There are valves within the veins that prevent the blood from going backwards. But when we become older or for other reasons such as obesity, pregnancy, or sitting for extended periods in one position, the valves begin to function improperly. The blood begins to flow backward and pool in the veins. This makes the veins swell up and twist. Because the vein is quite close to the skin surface anyway, it will push itself against our rather transparent skin and we will be able to see a bluish red colored vein which may even appear ropey because of the twisting. We will generally notice them on the lower part of the leg or the feet.
Varicose veins can cause your legs to feel restless, heavy or achy. The varicose veins can even become open sores if the leg becomes bruised. If this happens, one should seek a doctor’s advice for treatment.
Varicose veins are not a pretty sight, especially to us ladies! So, what can we do to prevent them? It is not particularly good news, but I must note that if you have aunties that have bulging veins then you may be more inclined to get them. So, you will have to be extra diligent in your prevention measures.
Keep in mind that the veins become varicose because the blood pools in them. So the key to preventing varicose veins is to keep your blood flowing nicely through the veins. You can achieve this by increasing your exercise. Our veins do not function well if we are sedimentary. We should avoid sitting or standing in one place for long periods of time. Avoid crossing your legs. This causes the blood flow to be restricted. When you are sitting, use the recliner, or prop your feet up if you are lying down reading. Do not wear tight clothing or boots that restrict blood flow to the legs.
Experts recommend that if you are overweight, work on losing those extra pounds. They put more stress on the veins causing the veins to become weaker. It is important to keep the muscles toned, so we need to work on keeping fit.
Varicose veins become more evident as we grow older because the valves in the veins become weaker, and the vein walls become weaker as well. Because of the weakening of the valves, there is more pooling of blood in the veins, and the weakening of the vein walls increase the likelihood of the vein bulging.
Prevention is much easier than treatment. So start early to take preventive measures. If you have a job where you have to sit for long periods of time, especially if you are pregnant, you may need to invest in some support stockings. If you must make long international trips on the airplane, get up and do some stretching periodically in the galley.
A good exercise you can do anywhere, when you are on your feet a lot, is to go up on your toes with your heels off the floor. This stretches your calves and increases circulation. Do a set of about twenty of these exercises, take a break and then repeat them. Jumping rope is also recommended. Rope jumping is strenuous, so you will need to condition yourself. Start with about one minute of jumping, then rest, and try to reach a goal of jumping for five minutes.
I hope you will benefit from this advice, and keep those unsightly veins hiding where they belong. That is far below the surface of our attractive skin!