At Artemis Colorado – Vein and Cosmetic Center, we want people to care for their legs and vein health in every season. Summer activities can impact your veins in unique ways, so it’s important to learn some strategies that can keep you on your feet. To help you enjoy a fun summer – whether you’re traveling, hiking beautiful Colorado, or relaxing by the pool – try the following tips.
Drinking enough water is essential to maintaining optimal health, but this is especially important when we’re more active or the weather is hot. Hydration has a specific impact on vein health: it helps maintain the blood’s fluidity, which facilitates circulation and reduces swelling.
Long periods of sitting or standing are contributing factors to venous disease, but there are steps you can take before boarding a plane, waiting in line for an attraction or going on a long car ride. As a complement to drinking enough water, wearing non-restrictive clothing will also help maintain healthy circulation. If you are one of the many people who experience leg discomfort while traveling, you can wear compression stockings under those loose-fitting pants. Wearing stockings provides additional support for both healthy veins and for veins that have damaged valves. For most people we recommend knee-high compression stockings rated 20-30 mmHg. If you would like to try a lighter compression, go for 15-20 mmHg. Another good clothing tip is to leave those high heels at home! Elevating the heels reduces venous return to the heart and increases pressure on the veins.
Whether you’re traveling in a car or on a plane, there are some easy ways to improve circulation en route. If you’re traveling by car, stop every couple hours to stretch your legs, do calf exercises or take a short walk. Flying can be challenging for people with vein issues due to the narrow seats, prolonged sitting and limited legroom. No matter how long your flight is, try walking up and down the aisle every hour or so if it’s permissible to move around the cabin. Even with the seat belt sign on, there are things you can do to increase circulation. Shift around a bit in your seat (though not so much you annoy your fellow passengers!) and try different sitting positions. Keep lifting your heels and rolling your ankles. Foot pumping, an exercise where you pull your toes toward your knees, is particularly effective in keeping the blood moving.
Traveling can be stressful, so relaxing for a bit when you reach your destination is a good idea! Elevate your legs above your heart for at least 20 minutes to give them a break. If you’re feeling energized, take a brisk 30 minute walk and stretch your legs. Your veins will thank you! Make sure to take advantage of any exercise equipment offered at your hotel. Cycling for 30 minutes is a great choice, but avoid exercises that increase venous pressure like lunges, crunches or sit-ups. Pack a swimsuit if you know there will be a pool at your hotel – swimming and walking are the best exercises for optimal vein health. Avoid hot tubs, though. Soaking painful legs might be tempting, but the heat can dilate veins and create more swelling.
What you eat matters, regardless of the time of year. It’s okay to indulge a bit on vacation, or during summer barbeques, but know that salty foods can negatively affect vein health and contribute to swelling. Processed foods are typically the biggest high-sodium culprits, so try limiting your consumption of these and opt instead for lean meats, vegetables and fruits, whole grains and legumes. Balancing indulgent foods with a healthy diet will not only support your veins, but will also help ensure that you feel your best during all your summer activities.
Perhaps this goes without saying, but don’t forget that sunscreen! Use sunscreen that is rated at least SPF 50 in a place like Colorado where high altitude is a concern, and at least SPF 30 if you are in an area with lower elevation. Being smart about suncare will help protect your skin from aging prematurely. We often think only about the sun’s effects on the face, but it’s important to consider the rest of the body as well.
We hope that you find these tips useful as you enjoy the summer months. Most people experience some type of leg pain at different times, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate that there is an underlying problem. However, if you are experiencing consistent discomfort in your lower legs, this could be a sign of venous disease. This condition sneaks up on people slowly and can happen to anyone. The early signs are frequent fatigue, swelling, pain or feelings of “fullness” or “heaviness” in the lower legs. It can be easy to ignore these symptoms, but venous disease is progressive and eventually you may have visible signs like varicose or spider veins. If you are experiencing these issues, call us or make an appointment to come by so that we can help determine if it’s time for comprehensive treatment. All of us at Artemis wish you a wonderful, healthy summer!