WEIGHTLIFTING AND VARICOSE VEINS: IS THERE A CONNECTION?

Weightlifting is the most common type of workout for strengthening the skeletal muscles. It is an ancient form of weight-training exercise which dates back to the Greek civilisation. In the modern era, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies have made weight-lifting even more popular. [1]

Weightlifting can be defined simply as the action of lifting heavy weights like dumbbells, weighted bars or weight stacks against gravity. If you like to work out, you must have witnessed a bulging in the veins of your legs immediately after doing heavy workouts like weighted squats. Seeing these bulged veins, it can’t be difficult to conclude that lifting weights can result in varicose veins. But is it true?

Yes, weight lifting tends to cause pooling of blood in your veins.

Varicose veins are twisted, bulged veins which appear blue in colour. They can occur due to damaged valves which lead to blood getting pooled in the veins. Weightlifting or any strenuous exercise results in increased blood pressure in your veins causing them to bulge.  If you wish to continue weightlifting, then do so with lighter weights and increase the number of repetitions.

If you are susceptible to forming varicose veins then avoid heavy weight lifting since it increases stress on the venous system and can damages the valves. Instead, opt for exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling, or simply walking! [2]

Fitness fanatics will have to ensure that exercises are done in moderation with right alterations being made in their lifestyle. Here are a few tips to follow to minimise damaging your veins-

  • Replace heavy weights with lighter ones
  • While lifting, breathe out, not in
  • Ride a bicycle or go on a walk soon after weightlifting to get the blood moving
  • Always wear compression socks or stockings while weight-lifting
  • Keep your legs at the level of your heart while doing weights[3]
  • Perform exercises like laying on the back and keeping legs straight up so that you can work your core without straining your veins
  1. My Weekly. Exercising With Varicose Veins – The Dos and Don’ts! [internet]. [updated 2019 January 14; cited 2019 Dec 11]. Available from: https://www.myweekly.co.uk/2019/01/14/exercising-with-varicose-veins-the-dos-and-donts/
  2. Emory Healthcare. Will Exercise Hurt My Varicose Veins? [internet]. [updated 2015 March 2; cited 2019 Dec 11]. Available from: http://advancingyourhealth.org/heartblog/2015/03/02/will-exercise-hurt-my-varicose-veins/
  3. Fisher | Titus. Activities That May Trigger Varicose Vein Pain. [internet]. [updated 2018 January 25; cited 2019 Dec 11]. Available from: https://www.fishertitus.org/health/activities-that-may-trigger-varicose-vein-pain

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