The Truth About Varicose Veins and Sitting Cross-Legged

Woman sitting cross legged

Varicose veins are surrounded by myths and rumors. Everyone seems to have heard about something you can’t do anymore if you want to avoid these bumpy, visible, and often painful veins. One of these common rumors is that sitting cross-legged increases the risk of varicose veins. Naturally, if we hear that avoiding something will lower the risk of developing them, we may try avoiding that very same thing. This is especially true when varicose veins prove to be unpleasant, painful, and unappealing due to their dark, bumpy appearance. Although some people still ask, is it true that sitting cross-legged can actually cause these veins to appear? Learn more.

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Does Crossing Your Legs Cause Varicose Veins & Spider Veins?

Short answer: no, they will not. If it’s comfortable for you to sit cross-legged, then you won’t harm yourself by doing so. The problem isn’t the way you’re sitting, and you won’t have to give it up entirely. The actual problem causing varicose veins is that we sit for much longer than what is healthy.

Sitting for hours at a time has become normalized in society. For many who work a desk job, sitting for eight hours is a part of their normal, average daily routine. However, people aren’t built to sit for so long and doing so can create problems for your health—including putting yourself at an increased risk of developing venous insufficiency. Let’s take a second to look at why this happens.

Why is Sitting Bad for Veins?

Your veins have valves that are responsible for properly circulating blood through your body. The vein valves in your legs work even harder because they have to push blood upward against gravity. When these vein valves become weakened or damaged, they lose the ability to do their job properly. This causes blood to pool in the lower leg where a varicose vein will form.

When you sit for long periods of time without a break, you increase the amount of pressure you’re putting on your veins. Over time, this can harm your vein valves. This is why prolonged sitting can be so bad for your venous health.

Is Sitting Bad for My Overall Health?

You may have heard that there are other negative effects of sitting for too long. It’s mostly true—sitting isn’t only bad for your veins. Those who sit for extended periods of time can also experience high blood pressure, nerve damage, and poor posture. All of this can add to additional unwanted aches and pains after a long day of work.

Do you have to simply “deal with” the health risks of sitting? Luckily, no. A few small lifestyle changes can help, like exercising, swimming, and taking frequent walks around the office.

What if I Have to Sit for Long Periods of Time?

There’s no need to quit your job if it requires hours of sitting. A few small changes to your daily routine can help your circulation and reduce the pressure that sitting puts on your veins. Taking a short walk around the office, for example, is one of the easiest and best things that you can do for your veins. Walking is a low-impact exercise that improves circulation and builds muscle in your legs, which helps you to avoid developing varicose veins. Even taking small moments to stand and stretch can help.

As the dangers of prolonged sitting are becoming more well-known, some offices are starting to put programs in place to help maintain the health of their employees. This can include standing desks, wellness programs, or an office walking group. If your office offers any of these, take advantage of them. Any little bit helps to lower your risk of varicose veins.

If you’re unable to take short walking breaks at the office, try to block out some time for a walk either before or after work. Building leg muscle is still one of the best ways to lower your risk of varicose veins. If you don’t like walking, you can also try swimming. This low-impact exercise also strengthens the legs—and helps cool you down during this hot Florida summer.

Can I Still Develop Varicose Veins if I Take Breaks From Sitting?

Unfortunately, yes. While there are steps you should take to lower your risk of developing varicose veins, there are still other potential risk factors that are out of your control. Genetics, age, and major hormonal changes such as pregnancy can also lead to varicose veins. Still, the overall benefits of taking frequent breaks from sitting are worth it. Doing the best for your veins will still do more to lower your risk than doing nothing will. Something as simple as doing frequent stretches can give you healthier veins and fewer aches and pains at the end of a long day at work. And, if you do develop varicose veins, treatment is easier than you may think.

What are My Options if I Develop Varicose Veins?

Treatment options have come a long way since the days of vein stripping. Now, specialists are able to treat the vein using minimally invasive options such as endovenous laser treatment (EVLT). Treatment is done in-office by a specialist, and patients are often able to return to work the next day. Plus, most insurance plans will cover the cost of treatment. After minimally invasive treatment, you’ll be able to get back to your life without painful, visible veins.Learn more
If you develop varicose veins, come visit the best vascular surgeons in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center. You deserve the treatment that works best for your venous health—and our specialists have dedicated themselves to venous insufficiency so that you can get high-quality treatment. You can call 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 today to set up a consultation. One of our specialists will carefully assess the current state of your venous health, and then create a treatment plan that will work best for you. If you want to learn more about what treatment options are available, as well as other varicose vein myths, please check out our blog for more information.

*Reviewed by John D. Horowitz, MD, FACS

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