Varicose veins are a common vein disorder, typically occurring in women more often than men. These veins appear enlarged in the legs and feet as a result of insufficient blood flow, causing the valves in the veins to weaken and pool with blood. In most cases, varicose veins are unsightly in color and appear as bulges in the affected area. Discomfort in the form of aches, throbbing or itching can also accompany varicose veins. Healthy diet, weight management and exercise, including lifting weights, are helpful in the management and prevention of varicose veins.
Stretch your leg muscles in preparation for more intense movement as your veins rely on the muscles to transport blood efficiently. Flex your calve muscles, stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings and rotate your hips. Simple stretching and light movement increases your heart rate to oxygenate the blood flowing to the veins surrounding your muscles. Hold each static stretch for five to 10 seconds.
Walk briskly or use a cardio machine to boost circulation before you lift weights. Engage in moderate cardio for 10 to 20 minutes to reduce the chance of engorgement in your veins during heavy weightlifting.
Change positioning of lower body exercises from standing to seated or inverted. If you normally perform standing squats or leg presses, alternate your workouts to take the pressure off the existing varicose veins. Try a seated leg press machine, inverted squat or seated quad and hamstring weighted machines. Consult your physician before trying inverted workouts.
Use the weight you can handle to avoid collapsing your muscles. Too much weight can cause injury and prevent the valves in your veins from opening fully to enable blood flow. If you intend to increase your weight, do so gradually and with partner assistance.
Walk for 10 minutes and cool down after you are done lifting weights. Maintain blood flow through the veins with a light walk post-weightlifting. Cool down with similar stretches done during the warmup.
Elevate your legs and wear compression stockings after workouts. Take a short break after the workout and sit or lie down with your legs elevated above heart level. Elevation helps maintain circulation. Compression stockings can prevent blood from pooling in certain areas. Consult your physician for recommendations based on your condition.
As a general rule for managing varicose veins, avoid standing or sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
Regular exercise and weightlifting can help manage your weight, which is a factor in causing varicose veins.
Rare but serious complications of varicose veins include blood clots and ulcers, which can indicate additional underlying health problems.