|Photo by marina113 via 123RF|
Varicose veins are those enlarged, swollen, and twisting blue and purple veins often appearing behind the legs, thighs, and ankles. They are the result of valves in the veins not flowing properly or blood flowing in the wrong direction or concentrated in one area. Varicose veins cause aching legs, swollen ankles, and visible spider veins. They can happen in all types of people, ages, and family history, and are caused by prolonged sitting or standing. However, they happen more often in women, pregnant or obese individuals, and those undergoing hormonal treatments or replacements.
According to Healthline.com, a website for medical information and health advice based in the US, there is no way to prevent varicose veins from forming with age, but there are ways to prevent them from worsening or to delay their onset. The following 7 tips should be kept in mind if you want to avoid them for as long as you can.
|Photo by akz via 123RF|
1. Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing
Staying in one position for a prolonged period makes it harder for blood to travel around the veins as the effect of gravity kicks in. This can cause pressure in the veins to rise, which can cause blood to pool around the ankles, and feet and calves would feel swollen and achy.
To avoid this, decrease vein pressure and improve blood circulation by moving around and doing small exercises, as paddling your feet, stretching your ankles, and bending your knees. Elevate legs at least 3 times a day for 15 minutes each for better blood circulation and less ankle swelling.
|Photo by zlikovec via 123RF|
2. Wear compression stockings
Wearing compression socks and stockings can keep vein valves in the correct position and function properly, and reduce pooling of blood, swelling, and pain. These items come with different types of compression levels—mild, firm, and extra firm. Depending on the condition of the varicose veins, a physician would know best which kind to recommend.
|Photo by Jozef Polc via 123RF|
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle must be maintained to prevent more damage to the veins. Obesity puts higher pressure inside veins and could aggravate varicose veins. Eat a healthy diet consisting of a mix of carbohydrates, protein, high-fiber food, and healthy fats. Avoid foods with too much salt and drink enough water throughout the day—proper hydration helps with good blood circulation.
|Photo by undrey via 123RF|
4. Exercise always
Exercising improves blood circulation in the veins, with walking, cycling, yoga, and swimming among the most beneficial. Yoga poses that bring the feet higher than the heart, such as inversion, headstands, shoulder stands, and legs up the wall stretch and tone muscles in calves and hamstrings. Stretching poses include downward-facing dog pose, sun salutations, and forward bend poses.
|Photo akz via 123RF|
5. Remember sleep positions
Healthline suggests that sleeping on the left side of your body prevents varicose veins from forming and eases symptoms. Especially for pregnant women, sleeping on the left side reduces the pressure that the expanding uterus puts on the veins in the pelvic area because this is located in the middle to the right side of the body.
|Photo by Ivan Stajkovic via 123RF|
6. Apply plant extracts
A study from 2006 showed that horse chestnut extract called Aesculus Hippocastanum L. may help reduce pain, heaviness, and itching in people with chronic venous insufficiency, a characteristic of individuals having varicose veins. Additionally, a study in 2010 said that sea pine extracts, known as Pinus Maritima, and Butcher’s broom extract known as Ruscus Aculeatus, may reduce leg swelling associated with varicose veins. Plant extracts must be diluted in carrier oils, such as coconut oil or olive oil, as elements may be too potent for the skin. Diffusers may also be used in aromatherapy.
|Photo by Iegor Khimchenko via 123RF|
7. Gently massage
An easy way to keep blood circulation is by massaging the affected areas. Use massage oils and moisturizers for optimal effects. However, avoid pressing directly into veins as this may damage fragile tissue.