Ask Dr. Rosen: Exercise & Leg Veins, Spring/Summer 2016 Newsletter
Each consultation with a new patient is an opportunity for patients to get answers to their questions…ones that have been at the back of their minds…and at the front & back of their legs…for years.
One question I commonly get is: “Will exercise help my legs?”
Yes, but… Exercise won’t fix varicose veins, spider veins nor the underlying issues that often lead to them. In many cases, veins we see at the skin surface are just the “tip of the iceberg.”
The underlying problem often stems from faulty valves that become leaky and allow flow to move downward with gravity. This pooling of flow leads to increased pressure in veins that, over time, causes them to become stretched out, twisty and bulge from the surface (varicose veins). Unfortunately, such broken valves can’t be fixed. But there are things that my patients and I can do to help alleviate the problem.
While exercise doesn’t fix valves, engaging in activity that involves moving your legs…walking, running, biking, zumba-ing (it’s a word)…all help to make your calf muscles more fit. Your body uses the calf muscles as a “peripheral heart”: when they contract, they pump flow upwards and return it to the “real” heart. The more fit the muscle, the more efficient the “pump”, the more outflow from the legs and the less pooling of flow in veins.
Graduated compression stockings also help to allow flow to leave the legs more efficiently and make it harder for pooling to occur. But, like exercise, stockings don’t definitively deal with the underlying valve problem.
Definitive solutions used to involve surgery. Nowadays, state-of-the-art vein care is minimally invasive, maximally comfortable and has no downtime. Rather than stripping veins with faulty valves, I am able to instantly reroute flow to properly functioning veins by using endovenous (inside-the-vein) closure techniques such as Endovenous Laser Ablation & Clarivein®.