Whether you suffer from varicose veins or simply sit or stand for long periods of time, elevating your legs can feel good. It can also improve your health, especially if you have varicose veins.
Health Benefits of Elevation
There are many benefits of raising your legs for 20 minutes or more:
- Improved circulation: When you elevate your legs, you raise them above the level of your heart. This allows gravity to help pump oxygen-depleted blood towards your heart, where it needs to go.
- Lower Vein pressure (Not Blood Pressure) :most people associate this with systemic hypertension which is completely unrelated to the pressure buildup in your veins Standing or sitting for longer periods of time can cause blood to pool in your legs, which can lead to an increased risk of varicose veins and increased pressure. Elevating your legs can help prevent the pooling of blood and the resulting pressure.
- Reduced swelling: Swelling of the legs can be caused by inflammation or an accumulation of fluid. In the same way that leg elevation exercises can improve circulation through gravity, it can also help redistribute any fluid buildup.
How to Elevate Your Legs
Elevating your legs for varicose veins is different than simply elevating them for comfort. If you have varicose veins, you will want to:
- Use a pillow to help reduce pressure on your legs.
- Raise your legs above your heart to help ensure better blood flow towards the heart.
- Elevate both your thighs and calves, so your leg is not bent downward.
- Gently bend the knees to reduce pressure on joints and tendons.
- Stay comfortable without unusual angles or pressure on your neck or back.
- Use a pillow designed for leg elevation to get the right height and leg angle.
- Elevate your legs daily, ideally in the evening.
- Wear comfortable and loose clothing which does not restrict blood flow.
How Long Should I Elevate My Legs?
Ideally, elevate your legs for at least 15 to 20 minutes daily. This is the amount of time it may take blood and fluids to drain from your legs. If you have a hard time sticking with this amount of time, try making 20 minutes a habit. You can use the time to watch a favorite show or read a book. Setting a timer is also important to make sure you get the right amount of time.
Is It Safe to Elevate My Legs?
In general, it is safe to elevate your legs. If you have Peripheral Arterial Disease or Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), you will want to speak to a doctor before elevating your legs. Patients with CHF may have trouble breathing when they lay flat and patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease may feel foot pain. Your doctor can tell you whether leg elevation is an option if you have either of these conditions.
Speak With an Expert Today
If you live with varicose veins, elevating your legs may feel good and can help swelling and other symptoms. Unfortunately, it will not eliminate varicose veins entirely. If you would like to discuss minimally invasive varicose vein therapy, contact Central Florida Vein and Vascular Center for an appointment today.