Best exercises for varicose vein sufferers

New Years

Whether you paused your exercise routine during the holidays, or you are ready to begin a new exercise program, January is the perfect time to recommitment yourself to physical fitness.

Regular exercise is important for varicose vein sufferers, but which exercises are the best?

Low-impact aerobic exercises – particularly walking, biking and swimming – are great for your veins because they work the calf and leg muscles and increase blood flow to the heart. Performing low-impact aerobic exercise also can reduce stress, improve overall blood circulation, lower glucose levels and improve sleep.

Walking is one of my preferred choices for people who suffer from varicose veins. This low-impact workout might seem simple, but walking strengthens the calf muscles and improves health without straining or overexerting the body. Try walking just 30 minutes a day five days a week. Riding a stationary bike or using an elliptical also offer the same benefits as walking.

As San Diegans we are fortunate to live in a climate in which we can walk, bike or swim on most days of the year. In addition to our temperate weather, we have incredible places to be active.

Floor exercises are another simple yet effective way to strengthen your legs and calves. Try some of these exercises below on a regular basis to improve how you look and feel.

  • Ankle rotations. While sitting or standing, flex the calf muscles and rotate the ankles. You can even do this exercise at the office at your chair.
  • Rocking your feet: While you are sitting or standing, rock your feet back and forth from heel to toe.
  • Leg Lifts: Sit or lie on your back with your feet straight out. Lift your right leg, hold it in the air to the count of 5, then slowly lower it. Do this exercise 5 to 10 times before repeating it with the left leg.
  • Bicycle Legs: Lie on your back, put your legs in the air, bend them at the knee. Pedal them slowly as if you are bicycling.
  • Lunges: Stand with your legs apart. Step your right leg forward slowly and bend your right knee while keeping your knee directly above your ankle. Hold the position, then slowly straighten your leg and step back to your original position. Repeat with the other leg. While standing with your legs straight, rise on your tiptoes and then lower back down. Repeat.

Yoga, especially positions that involve elevating your legs, can strengthen your muscles and improve circulation. Position your legs up a wall so that you maintain a 90-degree angle. Start with keep your legs in this position for 5 minutes, then work your way up to 20 minutes.

Elevating your legs helps to improve vein health and reduce pain. Some yoga poses are not recommended, particularly those that involve use of the abdominal muscles for a prolonged period. Discuss your yoga program with your vein specialist before undertaking a plan.

Always remember to consult with your vein specialist or physician before starting any workout program. Your doctor can offer some guidance to reduce the risk of injury or health complications.

San Diego Vein Institute specializes in treating venous concerns and can discuss your fitness plan and treatment options. San Diego Vein Institute is located at 336 Encinitas Boulevard, Suite 130, Encinitas, CA 92024. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (760) 944-9263 or visit