Vein problems – even in the cold season

Vein problems - even in the cold season

It’s not just in the summertime that our legs get hot. Winter can also strain the veins: Endless queues at the winter sales or when buying presents, standing at the Christmas market, underfloor heating or weight gain are natural strains on the veins. In addition, there needs to be more exercise in winter: rain, snow and sleet showers do not tempt everyone to go for regular walks. Even the “at least once weekly sports discipline” falters in the cold and cloudy season. We explain where winter traps lurk for the veins and give you ten helpful tips for caring for the veins.

What is the function of our veins?

The veins take deoxygenated blood from the tissues and return it to the heart against the force of gravity. In the legs, the veins get help from the muscle pumps. When the leg muscles contract, they pressure the deep veins, pushing blood towards the heart. When the leg muscles relax, vein valves prevent the blood from flowing back, i.e. not to the heart.


How do strained veins develop?

Frequent standing, possibly in tight boots, damages the calf muscle pump, which pumps blood back to the heart against gravity. No wonder small niches form in the blood vessels where the blood “allows itself short breaks”. The venous valves then no longer close correctly.

As a result, the blood does not flow into the deep vein system but sinks into the superficial veins. The superficial veins expand due to this volume load: the vein walls sag, wear out and lose elasticity and strength.

Vein problems due to lack of exercise

Especially when it’s wet and cold outside, the sofa and armchair are more attractive than exercise. But this cosiness brings problems for our veins: active muscle work in the legs supports the veins in transporting the blood back to the heart against gravity.

However, the venous valves depend on well-trained muscles. If this leaves something to be desired, there is also a risk of slackening veins.


How do strained veins manifest themselves?

Small, superficial spider veins are cosmetically unattractive but mostly harmlessHowever, there can already be signs of damage to the deeper veins. One speaks of varicose veins if larger, superficial vessels are also affectedThese are often accompanied by tired legs, swelling, tension and tingling in the legs, and sometimes also by itching and night cramps in the calves.

Frequent standing and sitting also lead to overstretching due to blood pressure on the vein walls. The first signs of phlebitis are:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • heat and
  • pain

The role of obesity in vein problems

Being overweight not only puts a strain on our heart health but also that of our veins. Cookiesmarzipan, Christmas goose, New Year’s Eve fondue and carnival doughnuts – combined with a lack of sport and exercise- usually lead to weight gain.

A healthy diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grain products helps to reduce obesity and ultimately benefits our veins.

Barefoot in the snow instead of heat build-up

Chic boots – preferably knee-high – are an eye-catcher. But that doesn’t turn on our veins. On the contrary, a high shaft edge constricts the leg.

If there are also high heels, the natural rolling of the foot when walking is impeded, which is disadvantageous for the function of the veins. High heels impede the return flow of blood towards the heart, as this footwear hampers the work of the foot and calf muscles.

Vein experts also warn against overheated rooms, especially underfloor heating, in combination with long periods of sitting or standing.

Support tights can help people who must stand a lot, such as saleswomen in overheated department stores. If you often suffer from swollen and aching legs in winter, you should reduce the heating. This not only protects the environment but also the veins!


Ten tips for caring for veins

  1. Treading cold water, à la Kneipp, and contrast showers suit the veins. The alternative for the winter: walking barefoot in the snow for a short time strengthens the body’s defences and stimulates the venous function (after that, you can have a warm footbath).
  2. Obesity puts strain on the veins and should, therefore, be avoided.
  3. Drinking a lot is essential!
  4. Vein-friendly sports such as swimming or cycling promote blood flow.
  5. Climb the stairs instead of using the elevator – this also applies to the shopping marathon in the department store.
  6. Put your feet up as often as possible.
  7. Avoid sitting for long periods.
  8. When sitting, do not cross your legs. Otherwise, the veins will be squeezed.
  9. Tight boots or high-heeled shoes restrict blood flow.
  10. Avoid too much heat, such as from long sunbathing heat build-up from overheated rooms or underfloor heating.


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