How to keep your veins healthy and strong

Bay Area

Nearly sixty percent of men suffer from varicose veins, so it’s not a common problem for only women and grandmas. Young men are afflicted as well. Health expert, Karen Owoc, explained to KRON 4’s Marty Gonzalez what you can do to keep your veins healthy and strong.

Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins, most commonly appearing in the legs and feet, and they are visible under the surface of the skin.

Karen says they occur when the valves in your veins do not work properly. Blood does not flow effectively. The faulty valves allow blood to flow in the wrong direction or to pool.

The symptoms include aching legs, swollen ankles, red, dry, itchy skin. Karen says these ballooned, gnarled veins are not just a cosmetic concern. These weak bulging vessels can rupture and bleed as well as cause swelling and throbbing (mild to moderate pain) which can cut into your daily activities.

Karen recommends exercise to avoid varicose veins. Exercise keeps your vessels strong which will promote healthy venous return and cardiac output.

  1. Sit and Move: When sitting, point, flex and rotate your feet and also straighten your legs or take a walk.
  2. Stand and Move: When standing, sway from side to side, stand on your toes/heels, stand on the ball of only one foot (with or without a dumbbell in each hand), and do knee lifts and standing leg curls.
  3. Do Standing Calf Raises: Perform this exercise on a set of stairs to both strengthen and stretch your calf muscles and back of the ankle

Karen also recommends wearing knee-high compression socks — even if you don’t have varicose veins. The tension pushes the blood from the ankle and up your leg. Also, to reduce all pressure on your veins, elevate your legs or lie down twice a day for 15 minutes.

There are several ways to treat varicose veins, such as:

  • Chemical injections: destroy the damaged vein by scarring and closing them. Eventually, they veins fade after a few weeks.  
  • Laser: Laser treatments can often seal off smaller veins (a.k.a. spider veins). Strong light applied to the vein can cause them to gradually fade and disappear. ​​​​​​​
  • Surgery: If varicose veins are large, these veins may need to be removed surgically under general anesthesia.

The Takeaway: Exercise is the easiest way to avoid this condition. Not only will you maintain healthy venous structures, but you’ll strengthen the functional and stabilization muscles of your calves and feet

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