Years of working on a production line, supervising children, waiting on customers and caring for patients takes a toll on your legs. A typical work shift is anywhere from four to eight hours long. Imagine how much standing we do in that time. But the constant standing doesn’t stop there. When we get home, we often stand for long periods of time in one stagnant position washing dishes, cooking dinner, eating, drinking and waiting. On average, each of us spends more than four hours per day just standing, and many are unaware that this behavior may have serious side effects on their legs. Standing for long periods of time on a regular basis is one of the leading causes of varicose veins.
We have all felt it before: the slight aching, restlessness and pain after having been on our feet all day. Just because this feeling has become a normal sensation throughout the week, does not mean we should ignore the signs our body gives us. Varicose veins may start as an unpleasant aesthetic addition to the surface of the skin, but they can lead to, or be indicative of, other venous conditions deep within the legs. The constant pressure and extra weight bearing down on the lower portion of the body needs to be shifted and balanced to avoid unhealthy venous conditions from prematurely occurring. To understand why we’re more prone to developing varicose veins while standing, we should understand how veins work.
Function of Healthy Veins
Veins are essential to the body’s circulation. The heart pushes oxygen-saturated blood throughout the body so that we can perform the necessary functions of life. Our muscles need oxygen to move properly (relax and contract) without stress and atrophy, and the brain needs 20% of that oxygen daily. So we’re constantly pushing blood to and from the heart via the arteries and veins. After all, of the oxygen in our blood has been taken up by the tissues, and the brain, the blood must circle back to the heart to pick up new oxygen molecules once again. It’s a never-ending cycle, and trust us–you want it that way.
Blood has a treacherous journey ahead as we sustain an upright standing position all day, without much movement. Gravity is the enemy for the lower limbs, as the blood must push its way up and up, from the lowest point of the toes, up the calves and thighs, through the chest and finally to the heart. You may think that the body has adapted to our constant standing position and could be strong enough to remove the obstacle but, unlike working out that strengthens our muscles, the valves in our veins can be overworked from too much activity.
To prevent any back flow of blood from remaining stagnant in our veins these tiny doorways, or valves, come to the rescue by closing off blood after it has gone through. This one-way flow of blood keeps things moving like a production line assembly. If these valves become weakened in any way, the veins will propel the blood insufficiently—this is venous insufficiency.
Standing too much will knock you down.
Standing has many adverse effects on the body that can raise our risk of stroke, blood clot formation, back pain, inflammation of the heels, fatigue and so much more. As we add more weight to the lower portion of the body and remain in one position, our blood starts to pool in the feet, ankles, and calves. Swelling is a common side effect of pooling blood and varicose vein formation.
Our calves are the strongest muscle in our body, apart from the heart, and are consistently regarded as the heart of the legs. As we overwork the legs by standing, we overwork the valves and weaken veins walls. The excess blood cannot remain deep in the legs, but moves outward to the superficial veins. These superficial veins, behind the backs of the knees, on the inner portion of the thighs (where the saphenous vein is located), around the ankles and on the tops of the thin skin on the feet will develop twisted and inflated varicose veins.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins:
- Swelling in the legs, ankles and feet
- Burning sensation
- Restless legs
- Color change in the skin
- Heaviness or aching in the legs
Don’t be a Statue
Canada Vein Clinics recommends changing position every hour or so. Alternating between sitting and standing, walking to the fridge, or taking an extra lap in the parking lot, is essential to easing the stress of blood volume in the legs. Standing may be unavoidable at the workplace, but these constant breaks with some movement can help you raise the circulation in the body.
We also recommend that you modify your workstation if you can, by incorporating an adaptive desk that can be raised for standing and lowered for sitting. Adjustable chairs can help with position changes here and there as hyperextending the knees can impede blood flow as well. Footrests can help raise the legs on and off to help with swelling and pressure as you bare down on the feet to maintain your posture.
Standing for more than two hours at a time during the day can cause a cascade of painful side effects and varicose veins will show up sooner. Canada Vein Clinics prescribes compression stockings to our patients that have standing jobs and cannot take pressure off of their legs. We recommend 20-30mmHg pressure units on the legs as the superficial veins are not surrounded by muscle to help them maintain their shape. Compressions stockings act a secondary support to help blood divert back to the deep veins and resume the normal flow of blood to reduce the development of varicose veins.
Who is affected by varicose veins?
Women are often more affected by varicose veins than any other population. This has to do with hormones and the dynamic nature of their bodies, as they stretch and adapt to the raised amount of bodily fluids: blood, plasma, and water volume. As women become pregnant, the chance of developing varicose veins gets higher and higher. Standing for prolonged periods of time for pregnant women can be detrimental to the fetus as well since blood needs to travel upward to the uterus.
Varicose veins can also be inherited whether you’re male or female if your parents had them. Standing occupations such as those in hospitals can bring on varicose vein formation if we’re not careful and aware of blood movement and the effect of gravity.
Treatment Options for Varicose Veins
Canada Vein Clinics is known all over Canada for state-of-the-art varicose vein treatment. We offer a variety of painless and quick outpatient procedures performed by a pioneer in the field of Phlebology, Dr. Alexander Matz. We treat our patients with compassion and don’t simply treat your venous issues as cosmetic, but medical conditions we can remedy, usually under an hour. Our treatments include VenaSeal, sclerotherapy, mini-phlebectomy, endovenous laser therapy, and ClariVein treatment.
Call Canada Vein Clinics to schedule your appointment and tell us about your lifestyle so that we can recommend effective treatment that will keep you happy, healthy and thriving.