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Varicose veins are a problem for tens of millions of people. For some, it’s simply an aesthetic issue while for others it can be painful. The cause of varicosities is within the veins themselves. Your veins are the highways through which blood returns from the far reaches of your body back to your heart. In order to make sure the blood moves only towards the heart, your brilliant body has installed millions of miniature one way vales within your veins to prevent back flow.
With varicose veins, these one way valves start to fail and blood flows back, which results in blue veins, disfigurement and pain. The question is, why did the valves begin to fail?
The primary reason is age, prolonged standing or a sedentary lifestyle. Your cardiovascular system was designed for frequent movement. The heart alone does not have the strength to effectively circulate all of your blood and it requires the contraction of your leg muscles to squeeze your veins (like a pump) and help move your blood back to your heart. Therefore, when one is not moving enough, the blood pools in the veins and those ingenious but tiny back-flow valves can’t handle the pressure and they fail.
Fortunately, there are a variety of all natural ways to prevent and counter the progress of varicose veins.
The single most effective thing you can do is move regularly. Your muscles, especially your calves, play a huge role in returning blood to your heart. If you work at a desk, moving every 15 to 30 minutes will go a long way to saving your veins. Consider going for a walk during business calls or when having a meeting with a colleague. You may also want to look into new desk innovation products that allow you to alternate between standing and sitting at your desk. On the other hand, prolonged standing can also be a cause of varicose veins. If you are on your feet all the time, try to incorporate more sitting breaks.
Make Gravity Work for You, Not Against You
In yoga, a common restorative posture is to lay down on the ground and put your legs up the wall. In the legs up the wall position, blood is able to passively drain from your legs and return to your heart and organs. Besides being good for your varicose veins, it is relaxing and feels good for your low back. I suggest 3 to 5 minutes of this posture or stopping if your legs start to get numb or tingly.
If putting your legs up the wall is a mobility challenge or uncomfortable, try lying on your back and elevating your legs on a chair or with pillows.
Over the past few years compression fabrics have become very popular in both the medical and sports fields. The fabrics help to squeeze the affected areas of your body and support your valves and muscles in moving the blood in the right direction. The compression fabrics can come in the form of socks, leg warmers, leggings, sleeves and more so you can find the right type for you. The fabrics can be found in many retail stores as well as online.
Massaging the areas above and below your varicosities can also be helpful as it simulates the compression and pumping effects of the contraction of your muscles that helps return your blood to the heart. Always massage towards the heart (from toe to knee and on up). It’s best to avoid direct and/or deep massage of the affected areas as it may put compressive stress on already damaged veins. Apply both stroking and squeezing massage techniques. You’ll increase your benefits if you can elevate the leg you are working on as it will put gravity on your side.
These methods will help with your symptoms. However the best course of treatment for long term results would require being evaluated using an ultrasound in our office and meeting with Dr. Roberts to discuss your treatment options.
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