With the biggest shopping day of the year right around the corner, many of us will be spending hours (or even days) walking from store to store and standing in long lines at the register. This type of extended standing and walking can wreak havoc on our legs, creating varicose veins, or worsening them in those who already have them.
If you notice ropey and bulging leg veins, achy calves or cramps at night, or swollen legs after standing for periods of time, varicose veins could be the culprit. Varicose veins are usually not too serious, but if ignored, can lead to other problems. However, there is a solution! Massage is a great tool to create comfort while relieving aching legs and swollen muscles.
Massage can be beneficial to those who experience varicose veins. It can decrease edema (excessive watery fluid that collects in the cavities or tissues of the body), increase venous outflow from the lower extremities, and improve muscle tone to normalize venous function.
The suitability of massage for a person with varicose veins will depend on their current medical condition, the cause and severity of the varicose veins, and the presence of swelling. Before pursuing massage, checking with a doctor is recommended, especially if the veins are a new development. Notify a medical professional if the varicose veins become painful, reddened, increase in warmth, or a new onset of swelling appears in the leg, as this may be a sign of more serious issues that require prompt treatment.
Who Has Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are quite common in the United States. According to WebMD, 30 to 60 percent of adults are affected by varicose veins. Pregnant women often suffer from them, as well as people whose occupation requires prolonged periods of sitting or standing. People who are overweight or who live a sedentary lifestyle can also be victims of varicose veins.
What Type of Massage is Best?
Massage therapy, when applied judiciously by a knowledgeable massage therapist, can be an enjoyable and therapeutic experience. Having varicose veins is not a barrier to receiving massage!
The use of gentle full-palm pressure or flat fingertip pressure when massaging over varicose veins can aid in venous return. If there is generalized edema or swelling, seeking a massage therapist with advanced training in lymphatic massage is a good idea. Deep tissue techniques, wringing movements, and muscle stripping techniques should be avoided.
Massage therapists will often integrate other modalities into a massage session, such as reflexology, aromatherapy, polarity, and reiki. Energy techniques such as polarity and reiki use light touch or above-body techniques to balance the body’s energy.
Reflexology focuses on the hands and feet; by working on the hands or feet, the whole body can be “touched” and balanced.
Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) offers classes on the techniques and modalities that educate and prepare massage therapists to work with people who have varicose veins. SWIHA’s website provides information about the massage therapy programs we offer. To enroll in a course or program, contact SWIHA’s admissions department online or call 480-994-9244 and ask to schedule an appointment with an admissions coach.