Wearing compression stockings and exercising can be long-term management techniques to avoid progression of lifelong venous disease.
The end of summer is here. Colorful leaves, brisk cool nights, and jack-o-lanterns are on the horizon. However, those pesky varicose veins still remain, putting a damper on upcoming exciting fall activities. Starting the fall season off right with compression stockings and leg exercises can make a difference.
Varicose veins are enlarged or twisted veins that are not properly sending blood back up to the heart. Outside of surgical intervention, wearing compression stockings and doing leg exercises are two things that patients can do on their own to manage varicose veins, says Jeremy White, territory business manager of mediUSA, a manufacturer of fashionable compression garments and orthopedic supports.
While leg exercises activate the calf muscles, compression stockings put pressure on the veins, so they close properly. Both types of intervention help push blood up toward the heart.
Do research and understand your vein disease and how varicose veins progress. Also research different compression stockings, from the fabrics to the levels of compression, to ensure you are using them properly.
“No one is going to be a bigger advocate for the patient than the patient,” White says.
Educating yourself shouldn’t just stop after a few quick Google searches. White recommends that patients visit brick-and-mortar stores that carry compression stockings and ask their clinicians to show them how to properly use the stockings. You’ll learn the proper ways to take the stockings on and off and when not to wear them. Never wear compression stockings while sleeping, White warns.
For leg exercises, try doing 30 basic ankle circles and pumps (pointing and flexing your toes) every hour, extending and bending your knees frequently, or walking briskly for 20 minutes during your lunch breaks. These small movements can significantly help manage varicose veins, but don’t just stop there. Try to increase your frequency and duration of leg exercises to help circulate blood through your body.
“Really try to get those muscles pumping, so [the blood] doesn’t stay stagnant,” says physical therapist Julius Cruz.
Continuing to push yourself to do these exercises will also improve and maintain your flexibility, which will help you take even fuller advantage of the exercises.
Embrace Lifelong Habits
Varicose veins are a chronic, degenerative disease that you can’t expect to disappear after only exercising and wearing compression stockings for a few months. By making it part of your daily routine, you can manage the progression of the lifelong disease, Cruz and White say.
“Many times there is a misnomer that … they get a vein procedure where they get a vein ablated, and then they walk out saying, ‘Well, the vein has been ablated, and now I’m cured,’ which isn’t the case because obviously there are a lot of other veins in the leg, and the disease doesn’t happen in one vein,” White says. “So, wearing compression [and exercising are] really important parts of managing it the best you can, so it does not progress.”