Healthy living for healthy legs As a person walks, the calf muscles rhythmically contract and relax, squeezing the deep veins and act as a second heart to push the blood up the veins. The muscle pumps move blood up the legs toward the heart against gravity with the help of one- way valves in both the surface and deep veins. Reduced activity decreases the venous flow back from the legs and damage to the valves such as varicose veins, injury and blood clots -also affect the flow in the veins. The pooling of blood in the legs can cause discomfort, swelling, skin changes, phlebitis and increased risk of blood clots.
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Many patients with vein disease are depressed about the way their legs look. They may not need to be treated for cosmetic improvement but ignoring them can miss the early warning signs and in later stages of disease, leg ulcers can lead to chronic suffering and social exclusion. There are many factors that increase your risk of developing significant vein disease which include family history of vein disease, multiple pregnancies, occupations that require prolonged periods of sitting or standing, injuries, inflammation and excessive weight. One cannot change the genetics but you can promote the aim of ‘healthy legs for healthy life’ by identifying opportunities for positive lifestyle changes. Regular exercise helps keep your body and legs healthy. Eating a healthy balanced diet helps with general nutrition and your circulation. Vegetables and fresh fruits that are rich in anti-oxidants and flavanoids particularly strengthen your leg veins. Losing weight is definitely a positive for leg health. Regular exercise can contribute to weight loss and healthy legs. This improves your exercise capacity, reduced pooling of blood within the fatty tissue, reduces muscle fatigue and there are emotional benefits of exercise. Endorphins are released with exercise and you may begin to feel better when you know you are doing your part towards healthy living for healthy legs. Working atmosphere can appear to restrict you ability to consciously improve your wellbeing. But there are simpler ways to make your whole day healthy. Walk or cycle to work and take those stairs at work. Keep moving your legs by stretching, moving your ankles and feet at regular intervals. Change your position if you sit or stand for long periods. Poor general posture during the day can make your legs ache, heavy and tired. Keep your shoulders back, chest up and stomach pulled in to strengthen your back and spine alignment that improves the way you walk promoting calf muscle work. Healthy muscle pumps promote healthy legs and healthy life. Elevate your leg to boost your veins natural circulation while you are sitting at home on the sofa or at the office by keeping a leg rest under your desk. After a long tiring day, revitalise your legs with a cool shower or soak as the cold water constrict the leg veins to push the blood up. Compression socks are a medicine that you wear for the veins. Simple below the knee stockings such as flight socks at work can reduce the fluid build up during the day from prolonged sitting or standing. Your legs will feel lighter when you get home and you will have more energy and improved mood.
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