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Does Running Cause Varicose Veins?

Does Running Cause Varicose Veins?

Posted on June 23, 2014 by Dr. Stephen Rivard

running_varicose_veins_2While varicose vein disease affects nearly half of the entire adult population, it is important to understand the there are many myths about the disease that often deter people from participating in certain activities.  For instance, as the weather gets nicer many people find themselves getting back into outdoor activities and exercise programs.  Often this includes walking, biking and running. However, many people are often mislead to believe that some of these activities, like running, may cause varicose veins.  But is that really true? Let’s get down to it and separate fact from fiction.

Running Can Cause Varicose Veins: Fact or Fiction?



The truth is that this statement is not only wrong, but believing it may actually create the opposite result.  That is, if you do not have varicose veins, running may actually prevent them from developing in the future.  Why?  Because, having healthy legs, particularly healthy calf muscles, increases your body’s ability to pump blood up the leg back towards the heart. Using your legs in activities like running creates the motion that enables this process to happen more effectively and frequently, increasing your overall circulation.



Although running may prevent varicose veins, the circumstance changes if you already have them or they are just beginning to form.  Running is high impact, and increases the blood flow (with the help of gravity) to your lower extremities, which can make running more difficult and even painful. 

Why?  Varicose veins are damaged veins with broken vein values that can no longer properly pump blood back to the heart.  Due to downward pressure, the blood tends to pool in the legs and ankles.  When you run, the process exacerbates as does the swelling and pain. 


What can you do? 

For those who prefer running over other forms of exercise, it may be important to familiarize yourself with some of the common symptoms of varicose veins and to:

  • Choose running on a trail, off road, or on a local rubber track as opposed to a concrete path to help reduce the impact.
  • Wear compression stockings when you run which will significantly reduce symptoms of fatigue and swelling.
  • Pay attention to your legs. If you start to notice that your veins are bulging more than usual, or the pain increases ever time you run, it may be better to seek other forms of exercise, like swimming or walking.

It is important to remember that vein disease is a real disease and requires immediate medical attention regardless of whether you feel pain. It may be best to avoid running if you have them.


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Our Philosophy: Find a Board Certified Venous and Lymphatic Doctor

At Illinois Vein Specialists, we understand that seeking proper care is just as important to you as it is to us.  That is why we focus only on treating varicose and spider veins and provide the most advanced and effective treatments available today.  We treat patients from Buffalo Grove, Cary, Elgin, Algonquin, Palatine, Vernon Hills, Crystal Lake, Hoffman Estates, Lake Zurich, Fox River Grove, Mundelein, Grayslake, Wauconda, Chicago, and all areas of Barrington, Illinois.

We understand that when you choose a doctor you want to go to someone you know, like and trust, and honestly so do we. We know that patients come to us most often from satisfied patient referrals, but we encourage you to do your own homework and ask around. In the end, no matter where you live or who you decide to have treat your varicose or spider veins find someone who focuses only on diagnosing and treating varicose and spider veins - find a Board Certified Venous and Lymphatic Doctor (formerly known as a Phlebologist).

Tagged common myths of varicose veins, vein disease prevention, common symptoms of varicose veins, compression stockings, can running cause varicose veins


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