Varicose Veins and Running

Does running cause varicose veins? Does running improve varicose veins? Patients are always asking these two important questions. The answers are “no” and “maybe”.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are caused by chronic venous insufficiency. Leg veins contain one-way valves that facilitate the flow of blood back to the heart from the legs against the force of gravity. These valves frequently become weak under so much pressure, and blood pools in the legs, causing swelling and eventually varicose veins. Varicose veins are visible on the skin, but the underlying cause is a vein below the skin.

What are the risk factors for developing varicose veins?

Risks factors for varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency include female gender, prolonged standing, smoking, inactivity, obesity, pregnancy, blood clots, age and family history.

Can running cause varicose veins?

Inactivity can contribute to forming varicose veins. We advise all our patients to remain active before, during and after our treatments.

Running itself has not been shown to directly cause varicose veins. However, the pounding of the legs on concrete, lack of compression/support and poorly fitted shoes can aggravate existing chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins. I recommend my patients to consider knee high compression hose or sleeve devices while they run to support their vascular health.

Importance of Exercise for Varicose Veins

Exercise is proven to help chronic venous insufficiency because the calf muscle pump increases blood flow back up to the heart. Exercise and physical therapy have even been shown to help chronic venous wounds. So, run away! Just evaluate your compression options.

Of course, the best approach to varicose veins and running is to have the veins evaluated and treated by a vascular specialist. Patients often report that their exercise endurance improves after venous treatments. We’d be happy to guide you through this process. To schedule a consultation with our vascular specialists, call us at 904-394-5347.

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