Getting rid of spider veins can seem like a tricky thing for runners. If you are a runner, you know that pounding the pavement is great exercise and yields a host of health benefits. You may also have heard a myth that running can be what causes spider veins and varicose veins in your otherwise-healthy feet, ankles, and legs. But that’s simply not true.
Not only does running not cause spider veins and varicose veins, it helps prevent them. If you should happen to develop spider veins or varicose veins and are a runner, we’ve got some tips for what to do.
But first, some helpful information on what causes spider veins and varicose veins.
What Are Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?
Spider veins (telangiectasis) represent the most frequent feature of venous disease and are the initial and most mild indicator of venous reflux.
- Venous reflux is a disorder in which tiny valves in veins that help control the flow of blood back to the heart become damaged (valvular incompetence). As a result, blood can flow backwards and pool in the veins.
- Spider veins often resemble the mesh pattern of a web, which is how they get their name. They can also look like the branches of a tree or appear as thin, separate lines. Spider veins are less than one millimeter in diameter.
- It’s important to know that spider veins are sometimes symptomatic of a more serious condition in the larger veins.
Varicose veins are more dilated than spider veins and often appear as blue or purple twisted ropes that sometimes bulge on the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are equal to or greater than three millimeters in diameter.
- Varicose veins are a more serious condition than spider veins and indicate a progression of venous disease.
- With varicose veins, venous reflux is most likely caused by abnormalities in the vein wall, though it can be attributed to valvular incompetence.
What Causes Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?
Running does not cause spider veins or varicose veins. However, the following are contributing factors:
- Obesity or weight gain
- Gender (women are higher statistical risks)
- Injury or surgery (especially near the pelvis)
- Blood clot
- Prolonged standing or sitting
Running With Spider Veins and Varicose Veins
Since some of the symptoms of spider veins and varicose veins include swelling, a feeling of heaviness in the legs, and fatigue, running with spider veins or varicose veins can be less enjoyable or even painful.
If you’re just noticing spider veins or varicose veins and want to keep running, here’s a few tips:
- Stop running if symptoms worsen. Keep a close eye on your spider veins or varicose veins. If symptoms become more acute, you should stop running. Transition instead to walking, swimming, and other low-impact exercise.
- Avoid hard pavement. High-impact activities like running can aggravate swelling. Make sure to run on a softer surface, such as grass, a dirt trail, or an athletic track.
- Wear compression stockings. Compression stockings, while not entirely comfortable for running, will help increase blood flow and decrease fatigue.
Getting Rid of Spider Veins and Varicose Veins
Getting rid of spider veins and varicose veins is a smart decision, and not just for cosmetic reasons. Venous disease can develop into severe conditions that require immediate medical attention, including swelling legs, skin discoloration, and venous ulcers.
For more information, make sure to contact experienced physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of venous disease.