Nothing affects the appearance of legs more negatively than varicose and spider veins. It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans, mostly women, suffer from these unsightly purplish-blue marks. Poor circulation, too much pressure on the veins, thinning vein walls as we age and diet, can all contribute to broken veins.
While it may seem inevitable to get varicose veins as we get older, there are simple things you can do to help keep your legs healthy, and prevent — or at least limit — some of the dreaded marks. Try these tips:
Wear the right shoes.
Low-heeled shoes allow the calf pump to work properly and keep the blood flowing to the veins through the leg. Save your higher heels for special occasions.
Elevate your legs.
Keep your legs elevated whenever possible to allow better circulation. Practicing inversion poses in yoga can also be helpful in getting blood flowing through the legs and other extremities.
Walking, swimming, running and biking are all good therapy for promoting circulation and keeping veins healthy. Calf exercises, such as moving your foot forward and backward, can help with circulation too.
Wear compression stockings.
Compression stockings can help reduce swelling and pain, as well as help prevent varicose and spider veins from forming or progressing. Compression is especially important if you stand or sit for long periods.
Don’t cross your legs.
Put as little pressure as possible on the back of your thighs. If you must cross your legs, do so at the ankles and only for short periods.
Keep skin lubricated.
Use a good moisturizer on legs, especially the lower calf and ankle area. Consider using a natural emollient such as coconut oil.
Keep your weight down.
Extra pounds put pressure on veins making it more difficult for blood to circulate efficiently.
Eat a healthy diet.
Studies show that bioflavonoids found in fresh fruits and vegetables may help to strengthen vein walls. Choose foods high in fiber. Eliminate processed table salt, which can cause swelling, and switch to a quality natural sea salt, such as Himalayan salt.
Drink plenty of water to increase circulation and elimination.
Avoid tight clothing.
Clothes that constrict the abdomen and upper legs make it more difficult for blood to circulate efficiently, especially when sitting for long periods.
Vitamin C and E, butcher’s broom and horse chestnut seed extract supplements may help improve circulation when taken regularly.
If you find your veins have gotten beyond your control, consider seeing a vein specialist. Many treatments with injections or laser can be very effective in removing spider veins and diminishing the appearance of varicose veins.