Why is it important to keep our legs strong? One reason is to avoid developing varicose veins. These dark, bumpy, sometimes painful veins form when vein valves in our legs become weakened or damaged. When the valves are strong, they’re able to circulate blood upwards through the leg, against the flow of gravity. But when they’re weakened, blood starts to pool in the vein, causing a varicose vein to form.
What Increases the Risk of Varicose Veins?
Vein valves may naturally weaken over time due to aging or genetic factors. But there are other reasons why veins may weaken faster than normal. For example, individuals who are often sitting all day aren’t flexing their leg muscles and keeping the vein valves strong. Pregnancy can also contribute to varicose veins, as weight gain and increased blood volume puts additional strain on the legs.
One of the best ways to lessen your risk of developing varicose veins is to spend some time doing a low-impact exercise. Walking is a natural choice for many, but swimming can also have a great positive impact on your veins and overall health. As an additional benefit, swimming is also a method to cool down in the hot Florida temperatures—and too much heat can irritate varicose veins if you already have them.
The Benefits of Swimming
Swimming places very little stress on your body because being in the water lessens the effect of gravity. This means you’ll have a lower risk of injury in the water. If high-impact exercises irritate your joints, swimming can be a great alternative. When you move your legs in the water, you’re strengthening your muscles while also improving your overall circulation. Additionally, water places a slight amount of pressure on your body, which also improves your circulation.
These aren’t the only benefits you’ll get from spending some quality time in the pool:
- Reduces your overall stress
- Improves your use of oxygen
- Improves your flexibility with minimal risk of injury
- Strengthens your joints without putting unnecessary pressure on them
If the thought of swimming back and forth in a pool isn’t appealing, there are some swimming exercises you can do to still reap the benefits. For one exercise, while you’re floating in the water, move your legs back and forth in a scissor motion. At the same time, sweep your arms back and forth across the surface of the water, as though you were wiping tables. If this is too exhausting, that’s okay. Instead, stay in the shallow water and try leg lifts. The idea is to keep your legs moving. As long as you’re moving, you’ll be helping your veins.
Strengthening your muscles and improving your circulation can lower your risk of developing varicose veins in the future. But, if you already have venous insufficiency, swimming won’t cure them and it may be time to see a doctor!
Dr. Horowitz, a highly-skilled vascular surgeon in Orlando, has dedicated his life and the focus of his practice to being an expert in minimally invasive vein therapy. From the very first phone call to our practice and throughout their vein therapy, our patients experience the difference that a team of the best vascular surgeons in Orlando can provide. If you want to learn more, contact us or read our blog for more information!