Also commonly referred to as "spider veins," varicose veins are the unsightly, enlarged veins that protrude near the surface of the skin, usually in the legs and ankles. There are various hereditary and lifestyle factors that can contribute to varicose veins, but the main reason why they occur is due to weakened valves in your legs. Once again, depending on other factors, you may be more or less susceptible, but everyone is prone to weakened valves. Here’s a tiny lesson in the anatomy of your legs that explains how this happens:
The veins in your limbs have one-way valves that help propel deoxygenated blood back towards your heart. These valves in your legs are constantly fighting gravity, but luckily your calf muscles act as a pump that helps propel the blood upwards. So in an ideal situation your calf muscles work with the vein valves in perfect harmony to prevent any blood from flowing back down. However, there are many situations in which these mechanisms cannot perform on their own. For example, you may be sitting at your cubicle, driving for long periods of time, or maybe you’re bed-ridden from an injury or sickness. All of these situations are ones in which relatively more sedentary, meaning you’re not moving and your vein valves have to do all the work to keep the blood flowing normally. Over time, these valves can wear down and begin to allow backflow of blood, ultimately causing pooling in your legs. As a result, the pooling blood stretches out your vein walls, causing them to protrude. Thus, varicose veins.
So what are the best ways to prevent varicose veins? Additionally, what are the best ways to make them go away? Here are some pieces of advice I would recommend:
Everyone's always "busy" and no one ever has time. But if you're really telling me that you don't have 30 minutes in your day to do some kind of physical activity, then you must re-evaluate your priorities. Move your legs, do some simple leg exercises, give yourself an excuse to get out of your cubicle for a few minutes during your work day. Whatever you do, using your calf muscle helps support the veins by pumping the blood back up to your legs.
Stretch/Elevate your Legs
There will be the hectic days where you won't be able to exercise as much, but once you're ready to relax in the evening, do these awesome leg stretches. Not only will they help your legs feel great, but they will promote healthy circulation as well. When you're watching TV on the couch, kick up your legs above the level of your heart. By doing this, you're relieving the pressure off of your vein valves and letting the blood flow naturally. Take it a step further and have a couple pillows to prop your legs up on when you're sleeping at night.
Wear Compression Socks
Compression socks are helpful for both preventing and managing your varicose veins. Wearing them every day will support the vein walls so they never get too stretched out or protrude in the first place. Additionally, wearing compression socks as a result of varicose veins will greatly reduce the appearance of them . There are also medical procedures that can be done to fix the veins, but once again you must wear compression socks afterwards for the procedure to be effective in the long run.
Overall, there really isn't just one main cause of varicose veins. Remember, everyone's bodies are different and may have other factors that contribute to this condition. However, there are certain things that everyone can do to prevent them, as mentioned above. The most important part of having healthy legs, is having a healthy body. If you're typically more sedentary, be careful. Make it a point to get up and walk around every now and then. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.