6 things varicose veins sufferers should avoid

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S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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28 October 2020

How can I stop varicose veins getting worse?

Take control of your varicose vein symptoms by adopting a few simple habits. Some things it may be helpful to avoid if you suffer from this problem are as follows

  1. Tight clothing
  2. Heels
  3. Inactivity
  4. Excess salt
  5. Dehydration
  6. Lots of standing.

1. Tight clothing

It's time to ditch the skinny jeans, tight tights and figure-hugging sportswear if you have varicose veins. Even long length boots could cause problems! This is because all this tight clothing restricts blood flow, particularly to the lower limbs. They also put pressure on the veins, so may make the condition worse or, at the very least, will cause discomfort.

So, revamp your wardrobe with loose, flowy styles. Fortunately, recent fashion trends have favoured exactly these kinds of outfits, with puffed sleeves, linen trousers and sweatshirts all in!

My self-care tip: Try these stretches for a circulatory boost

Find out why stretching is so good for circulation and learn some easy examples to try at home!

2. Heels

Staying with the topic of fashion, heels are another clothing item we might want to avoid when suffering from varicose veins.

These too can hinder blood flow, particularly if you've opted for 'strappy' styles or styles with pointed toes that squeeze everything together! The angle of the heel can also cause problems. This causes the muscles in the leg to contract, meaning blood can't be pumped back through the veins as it should. The result of this is the pooling of blood in the veins of the lower parts of your legs.

So, if you've got varicose veins, wearing heels will definitely make the problem worse. What's more, they can actually increase the likelihood of developing symptoms in the first place.

Sticking to flat, comfy shoes takes away the risk. But it's not all bad. Chunky boots, Mary Jane's and loafers are just some trendy flat styles you could opt for instead!

3. Inactivity

Maybe we spend too long watching the television in the evenings, or stay glued to our desk for nine hours a day. Whatever the reason, a whopping 20 million people in the UK are inactive.1

We all know the effects – heart disease, poor sleep, low mood. I could go on. Another area to be impacted is vein health.

Movement gets the blood pumping around the body so, if we are sitting down for extended periods, this process is restricted and circulation issues like varicose veins can develop or worsen. Sitting cross-legged is particularly problematic, as it hinders blood flow even further.

So, if you are sitting for extended periods, schedule in some regular movement breaks throughout the day. Check out our Get Active hub for loads of tips and advice on what you can do!

4. Excess salt

Are you a salty or sweet person? Well, if you've got varicose veins, definitely keep away from the salt...

Too much salt contributes to high blood pressure, as blood becomes thicker and more challenging to pump round the body. This puts increasing pressure on varicose veins.

Processed foods and ready meals are some of the big hitters when it comes to salty foods. Also, watch out for your favourite snacks – flavoured popcorn, cereal bars and even seemingly healthier options like sweet chilli chickpeas have a high hidden salt content.

Make your own healthy snacks to avoid falling foul of the highly salty options lining supermarket shelves. Fancy a peanut butter muesli bar or a cranberry granola bar? Check out the recipes here!

5. Dehydration

How likely are you to drink 1.5-2 litres of water per day? If the answer is 'not very', this could be having an unfortunate effect on your circulation and, therefore, any varicose vein symptoms.

Good water intake helps to keep veins healthy and blood circulating well so, if we become dehydrated, both these things can start to function less efficiently. Also, lack of water can contribute to swelling and cramps in the legs, which is only likely to add to the discomfort of varicose veins.

To improve your water intake, keep fizzy drinks for the weekend or for special occasions. Flavour water with fruits and herbs (I like orange, lemon and mint all mixed in together) and keep in mind that your favourite latte or breakfast tea do not count towards your overall water intake.

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6. Lots of standing

The problem with spending long hours on your feet (shopping enthusiasts beware!) is that it is harder for blood to circulate upwards – it effectively has to fight against gravity! This can cause the blood to pool, leading to or worsening issues like varicose veins.

If your job involves lots of standing, make sure you use your break to give your feet a rest – don't use the time to tick off things on your 'to-do' list or cut it short in order to get back to work! Also, if you are standing still for a while, it may be helpful to get a little more movement in by practicing some stretching.


1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39457993 

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