WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS
You have three kinds of veins in your legs; the superficial veins which lie closest to your skin, the deep veins which lie in groups of muscles and perforating veins which connect the superficial veins to the deep veins. The deep veins lead to the superior vena cava vein, your body's largest yet short vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the upper half of the body to the heart’s right atrium. The superficial system enters the deep system in two places, in the groin & behind the knee. In addition there are a number of perforating veins along the leg & thigh interconnecting these two systems.
Varicose veins occur in the superficial veins in your legs when the valves get damaged and hamper the flow of blood in one direction. The blood gets pooled in the area and the vein swells. They often look blue, bulging and twisted. The common symptoms of varicose veins include pain, fatigue, itching, burning, swelling, cramping, restlessness and throbbing.
HOW DOES BLOOD FLOW FROM YOUR LEGS
Blood is pumped from your heart to the legs through arteries. Once it has supplied oxygen and nutrients to the legs, blood returns to your heart through the veins. To complete this process, blood must flow upwards against gravity. The muscles in your legs help this flow. These muscles squeeze the deep veins of your legs and feet. One-way flaps, called valves, lying along the leg veins, keep blood flowing in the right direction. When your leg muscles contract, the valves inside your veins open. When your legs relax, the valves close. This prevents blood from flowing in reverse, back down the legs. The entire process of sending blood back to the heart is called the venous pump. When you walk and your leg muscles squeeze, the venous pump works well. But when you sit or stand, especially for a long time, the blood in your leg veins can pool and the pressure in your veins can increase. This stretching can sometimes weaken the walls of your veins and damage your vein valves. Varicose veins may result.
WHAT CAUSES VARICOSE VEINS
Several factors contribute to varicose veins; these are excessive pressure on the legs or abdomen, hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, repeated delivery as well as very quick deliveries, miscarriages, menopause time, dietary deficiencies, loss of skin elasticity due to aging, prolonged standing or sitting, constipation, constrictive clothing, wearing high-heeled shoes, lack of exercise, obesity and repeated heavy lifting.
YOGA FOR VARICOSE VEINS
Weakened veins lack the strength to return blood to the heart. Since veins in your legs are farthest from the heart, you can help them whenever you get gravity on your side. All the inverted asanas help in alleviating pain and also prevent future attack & reduce the pressure of the pooled blood in the veins. Following is a simple yoga breathing exercise, which can be immensely helpful in reducing varicose veins and is particularly helpful in preventing them from getting worse.
- Lie flat on the floor, resting your legs in an inverted position on a chair or straight up against a wall.
- Breathe deeply through your nose using the belly breath.
- While inhaling, let the abdomen rise to its limit and at exhalation let it fall completely.
- Keep watch on each breath with closed eyes.
- The deep breathing creates a pull in your chest cavity that also draws blood from the legs to the heart.
- Fresh blood then enters your legs, easing the pain.
- Do this pose twice daily for about ten minutes.
- Using either of these leg-raising methods, the discomfort will start dimnishing.
- Put your feet up whenever you have time; let gravity do some of the work.
- Avoid standing unnecessarily for long periods of time. If it is unavoidable wear lightweight graduated support stockings.
- Walking is beneficial as the movements of leg muscles help push the blood upwards.
- Avoid crossing your legs while sitting, since it cuts off blood flow and increases pressure in leg veins.
- If you work at a desk, support the legs horizontally rather than down in the usual position.
- During pregnancy, lying on the side will aid venous return by shifting the pressure off the inferior vena cava in the abdomen.
- Sleeping with feet raised slightly above the level of the heart helps the blood flow away from ankles.
- Massage of the legs is very relaxing. The movement should be upwards towards the heart.
- Don't wear heels taller than an inch. When you wear high heels, you don't utilize your calf muscles enough while walking and these muscles are responsible for pumping blood back to the heart from ankles.
You can help control varicose veins with a program of specially designed exercises, under the direction of a Yoga Guru who is knowledgeable about this condition's particular needs.
Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna