Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How exercise impacts veins (and vice versa)

In our last post we began discussing how physically active people experiencing leg pain are possibly experiencing the effects of vein insufficiency. In this post we take a closer look.

During exercise your muscles require more oxygen, so veins dilate to increase the volume of blood flowing through the circulatory systembut if your veins are not working properly, that means more blood can pool in your legs. On the other hand, exercise is beneficial from a venous standpoint because anything that improves the function of the foot and calf muscle pumps to get the blood back up to the heart is good.

Walking is the best exercise for improving the muscle-pump function, especially following vein treatment. Although walking can help manage the symptoms, it does not prevent vein problemsNeither does exercise cause vein problems, except in extreme cases. Physical activities that require your legs to support heavier weight over prolonged periods of time, such as weightlifting or backpacking can put someone at increased risk for developing venous issues. Repeated exposure to increased intra-abdominal pressure, or pressure that is transmitted to lower extremities, can cause the normal system of valves and veins to weaken over time and become incompetent.

Repetitive motion sports such as endurance running, cycling and tennis can also put a lot of stress on your leg veins and over time may overcome a normal venous system.

In general, exercise (and working out the muscle pumps) is not detrimental for the vast majority of athletes who are participating in a more typical spectrum of activity. In fact, maximizing the efficiency of that system is beneficial.

Depending on each individuals degree of vein disease, he or she may become more symptomatic because the foot pump no longer counters the vein insufficiency. One persons level of activity, for instance, may be associated with the progression of vein disease if they have some pre-existing risk factors, such as age or family history.

While exercise can influence vein dysfunction, it doesnt necessarily prevent it or cause it. But can poorly performing veins affect athletic performance? The short answer is yes. If the venous system is not working correctly, then the extra de-oxygenated blood (and blood waste products like lactate) can cause discomfort, cramping, fatigue, or other conditions that diminish performance.

Even if legs feel great during training, vein issues can also cause legs to hurt after exertion and slow your recovery.

In our next post about athletes, exercise, and veins, we’ll turn to treatments to fix the problem. And be sure to visit the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine to learn more about your options for treatment.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Physical activity, leg pain…and veins?

Many athletes, professionals and amateurs alike, experience some kind of leg pain at one time or another, whether from the mechanics of pounding movement on a hard surface, or keeping their legs in the same position for extended periods. Rarely do they attribute the discomfort to a dysfunction in their venous (veins) system.

But not all aching legs are simply due to physical activity, or even the effects of aging. It may actually be vein insufficiency that’s causing those symptoms and not that five-mile run.

The first thing to understand that leg pain in general is not normal. If your legs hurt after exercise, you should find out why.

Some of the symptoms of vein disease are obvious: visible blue- or purple-colored “spider veins,” bulging varicose veins, or even open wounds (leg ulcers) on the leg or ankle. Other symptoms are much more subtle. In addition to achiness and swelling, sensations like an itching or tingling in the legs may be an indication of vein insufficiency. Leg cramps after long periods of inactivity, or while lying in bed at night, is another possible symptom.

Some people may experience no symptoms at all—and some merely accept them as an unavoidable byproduct of physical fitness. You can be in great shape and still have a vein disease that’s developing.

In our next post, we’ll look at how exercise impacts veins (and vice versa). If you wonder whether vein issues are affecting your physical performance, feel free to call the Vein Healthcare Center with any questions.