If the recent revelation that, “sitting is the new smoking” sent you running to Ikea to buy a standing desk, we hope you kept your receipt because research suggests standing may be no good for us either.
Along with musculoskeletal pain of the lower back and feet, preterm birth and spontaneous abortions, a 12-year study revealed that prolonged standing at work largely increased the risk of being hospitalised due to varicose veins, for both men and women.
“30% of Australian women and men suffer from varicose veins. While the medical fraternity don’t know what exactly causes varicose veins…Adults with jobs that require them to stand on their feet all day, such as retail workers, factory workers, tradespeople and hairdressers are at greater risk of developing [the condition],” says Dr. Zil Yassine from The Vein Institute, Australia.
It has also been shown that there is a strong genetic link, with up to 70% chance of developing the condition yourself if both parents suffer from varicose veins and up to 40% with one parent, according to Dr. Zil.
So with sitting making us fat, sick and eventually dead, and standing giving us back problems and varicose veins, it seems we can’t win. But since those desks didn’t come cheap, we turned to Dr. Zil for some expert advice to keep us standing on our own two feet. Below, he shares his top five tips for minimising the symptoms of varicose veins.
People who stand for long periods are more likely to develop varicose veins. Hairdressers, nurses, and factory workers, for example, are more at risk than the general population. It’s important that you have breaks in between long periods of standing.
Eat foods low in salt and high in dietary fibre from whole grains. Include foods high in bio-flavanoids like blueberries, blackberries, spinach, garlic and onions. These foods are shown to keep veins healthy.
Compression stockings will not prevent varicose veins, but they do help minimise any swelling or symptoms associated with the condition. They should be properly fitted and tailored to your legs. For people not keen on stockings, tight sports bandages will also work.
A stronger calf muscle pushes blood more efficiently back to the heart and will minimise symptoms associated with vein problems. Exercise will help minimise any vein circulatory problems in general.
Varicose vein disease tends to progress slowly. Symptoms to look out for include aching, throbbing, swollen, heavy legs, a tingling sensation in the legs, skin pigmentation and even fatigue caused by blood pooling in the legs as oxygenated blood fails to circulate around the body. If you are concerned about your leg veins get a scan to determine whether or not you may require treatment.
Before you take a chainsaw to your new Ikea furniture, varicose veins cannot currently be prevented. It’s a disorder that is believed to be hereditary yet the exact causes are unknown. The correlation between prolonged standing and development of the condition is not causal. So if the choice is between early onset obesity and death, or varicose veins and back issues, we think we’ll stand up for the cause.
About Dr. Zil Yassine
Dr. Zil Yassine is the Medical Director at The Vein Institute, a medical clinic completely dedicated to the treatment of varicose veins. The Vein Institute uses revolutionary techniques, transforming what was once a painful surgical procedure into a walk-in, walk-out treatment. Dr. Zil has improved thousands of patient’s lives through this unique, non-invasive, surgery-free treatment. He is the first Australian doctor to be certified as a Vein Specialist with the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine.