Instead of dealing with the symptoms of a condition like varicose veins, many people may decide to find ways to avoid the problem altogether. If you’re one of those people, you may wonder whether your daily habits can contribute to varicose veins like most myths claim. Or, you may wonder if it’s genetically out of your control. The answer is simply that both, daily habits and genetics play a role in varicose veins. Factors out of your control like genetics, age, and major body changes such as pregnancy can lead to developing varicose veins. However, some daily habits can also lead to venous issues, and changing these habits can reduce your risk of developing unhealthy veins. The vascular surgeons in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center are here to outline a few common habits worth examining more closely.
Why Some Habits Are Bad For Veins
Before we share what bad habits are bad for your veins, it’s important to discuss why certain habits are bad in the first place. Your veins work hard to circulate blood throughout your body. The veins in your legs, on the other hand, have an additional challenge. Your leg veins have to pump blood upward and against the flow of gravity. Normally, valves in the vein are strong enough to do this, but they can become damaged or weakened over time. Blood can then pool in the vein, and from there, a varicose vein is formed.
Some daily habits that we may not think about can harm these vein valves. In order to keep them healthy, we want to pinpoint habits that can damage the veins and replace them with habits that make them stronger.
Your job may require you to stand for long periods of time. This is most common in bank tellers, cashiers, and teachers. Hours of standing puts additional pressure on the veins—which, as we know, is something you’ll want to avoid, as it can harm the veins. Now, we’re not suggesting that you start interviewing for a job where you’re not on your feet for eight hours a day, but it’s simple to find small ways to change up your work routine. Can you take a short walk? Can you get a break to sit? Just a little bit of extra movement during the day will help take pressure off your veins.
Crossing Your Legs
You may have heard to not cross your legs, as it causes varicose veins. This isn’t entirely true. Crossing your legs doesn’t put so much pressure on your veins that you’ll develop varicose veins—but you may put yourself at risk of spider veins. When you cross your legs, you put additional strain on your legs and hips. This can put just enough pressure on your veins for them to be more visible.
Crossing your legs for a few minutes here and there won’t hurt. But, similar to standing, try not to do it for hours a day. Keep two feet flat on the floor instead—or, if you’re often sitting at a desk for work, you can try having your feet elevated on a small stool for some additional comfort.
Shaving Too Fast
We all know the morning rush—we end up crunched for time, we rush through shaving, and end up with small, stinging cuts. Did you know that these can contribute to varicose veins? When you nick yourself while shaving, you can disrupt blood circulation in the leg. This is because veins now have to be under additional pressure to heal the cuts. As always, a nick or two won’t hurt—but if you find yourself with cuts frequently, it may be time to slow down when shaving.
Not Building Leg Muscle
Exercise is good for just about everything—including varicose veins. When you stay stagnant for long periods of time, you can lose muscle mass. This causes veins to dilate and varicose veins to form. This happens most commonly in injured athletes, who have large amounts of muscle that they’re suddenly unable to maintain.
While maintaining muscle is important, building muscle is critical as well. This doesn’t mean you have to start running marathons. You don’t have to set aside long periods of time for the gym, either. Just take a short walk every day. This low-impact exercise can help build some muscle in your legs, as well as strengthen those vein valves. Short walks are also ideal for those who spend much of their day sitting or standing.
Eating Too Much Salt
A low-sodium diet isn’t just a trend—eating too much salt certainly has some bad effects on your health, including an increased risk of developing varicose veins. A high-sodium diet can cause your body to retain water, which puts more pressure on your veins. This pressure, as we’ve established, harms the vein valves and can create varicose veins.
A little bit of salt isn’t bad for you. We all like our food to have a little flavor. It’s important, although, to take a quick look at the food labels before you pick something up from the grocery store. Some foods can have a surprising amount of sodium—and there’s often a low-sodium option available.
Some risk factors for varicose veins are out of our control. Genetics often plays a role in whether someone will develop venous issues, and the hormonal changes in pregnancy can also put women at a higher risk. Does this mean that you shouldn’t change your daily habits? Of course not! Doing all you can to strengthen your veins will still lower your risk of developing varicose veins.
Want to know more about other risk factors for varicose veins? Our blog frequently discusses what can put you at risk, as well as information about symptomatic relief and treatment. If you’ve already developed varicose veins, help isn’t far away. The vascular surgeons in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center have dedicated themselves to treating venous insufficiency. Our specialists understand that varicose veins can be painful, frustrating, and make some feel self-conscious. Our goal is to make you happy and comfortable with your legs again. You can call us today at 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 to set up a consultation.