Venous insufficiency, which is caused by damage or dysfunction in one or more of your deeper leg veins, results in blood pooling in place rather than returning to the heart. The condition is worsened by standing or sitting for prolonged periods. In most cases, regular exercise, specifically bicycling, is a significant part of treatment. Bike riding can benefit venous insufficiency. Consult your doctor before starting a bicycling regimen for venous insufficiency.
Valves in veins keep blood flowing back toward the heart, preventing it from collecting in one place. Venous insufficiency results from damaged or missing valves. Aging, pregnancy, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle make venous insufficiency more likely. Genetics also play a role. Symptoms include aching or throbbing in the legs, sometimes accompanied by tingling, itching, burning, leg fatigue or sensations of heaviness. Legs can also swell and become visibly puffy. Symptoms are improved by elevating your legs, while standing worsens them. Venous insufficiency is often accompanied by varicose veins. In more serious forms of venous insufficiency, painful ulcers may appear on legs and ankles. See your doctor if you begin to develop a leg ulcer.
Treatment and Prevention
Venous insufficiency and varicose veins can be treated with compression stockings, which help reduce swelling. Ulcers can be treated with medicated wraps. In severe cases, laser or endoscopic surgery might be performed. To keep venous insufficiency from worsening, keep your legs moving while seated; do this by crossing and uncrossing your legs or stomping the ground lightly. Keep your legs elevated above the heart when lying down. Shedding excess pounds and quitting smoking are also helpful.
Along with swimming, walking and stair climbing, bicycling is highly recommended. Not only does it stimulate venous blood flow by activating the calf pump muscles, but bicycling can also reduce physical and emotional stress. Biking can also help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, an important factor in alleviating venous insufficiency. To get the full benefits of bike riding, many fitness experts advise riding between 30 minutes and an hour most days of the week.
Check with your doctor before starting a bicycling regimen for venous insufficiency. Also, avoid strenuous activities that might cause additional pain and swelling. According to the Cleveland Clinic, you should avoid restrictive clothing, such as skin-tight jeans, tight girdles or belts, as this type of clothing can exacerbate symptoms. Avoid prolonged periods of standing or sitting in one place. If you have a sedentary job, get up and move around often throughout the day.