September 23, 2021
While many of us may not be thrilled by the thought exercise, regular movement is key to preventing and managing the symptoms of varicose veins. Exercise can also help with the recovery period after treatment, which is why we encourage our patients to resume physical activity as soon as possible after their procedures.
It’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t need to be overly strenuous to keep you healthy, and high-impact activities such as running and weightlifting can actually put unnecessary strain on your veins. This is why walking is such a popular, safe and effective option. But if you fancy an extra challenge and want to boost the benefits of your daily stroll even further, we may have just the suggestion for you: Nordic walking.
What is Nordic walking?
Nordic walking is deceptively simple: it’s just like regular walking, but using two poles to keep your arms engaged as you move. It was originally designed as a training method for cross country skiers. Now, however, it has found a new lease of life in those who wish to reap the benefits of a low-impact yet full-body exercise.
While normal walking engages only the muscles below the waist, the addition of poles means that you begin to engage your arms, core and other muscles in your upper body, increasing the amount of the body you are exercising from 50% to almost 90%. Since varicose veins are not only found in the legs, Nordic walking can help prevent them from forming in other locations as well.
The two most popular techniques for Nordic hill walking are the European technique and the American technique. The European technique relies on a long stride and an accompanying long swing of the arms. Once the arm reaches the back of the swing, the grip on the pole is released. As such, many walkers who use the European method insist that poles with straps are a necessity.
The American method employs a more natural technique, similar to traditional walking, relying on a firm grip of the poles. This style of Nordic walking engages an equal distribution of exercise on both the upper and lower body, ensuring that your entire body is getting a good workout.
How can Nordic walking prevent varicose veins?
As blood is pumped around the body, it inevitably has to travel upwards against gravity to get back to the heart. If it can’t do that properly, blood can start to pool in certain places, most often the legs, causing veins to swell. Walking increases the pressure applied to blood vessels and keeps the blood flowing properly, reducing the risk of varicose veins. A daily walk truly can work wonders.
This activity offers all the benefits of traditional walking while ensuring that your body is receiving a solid workout. Scheduling a Nordic walk once a week will keep your blood pumping regularly and effectively, and you should start to see the effects on the rest of your body sooner than you might think.
Where should I go Nordic walking?
There is no fixed place to go for a Nordic walk; the beauty of the exercise is that it can be done anywhere. There are even walking poles designed for different terrains. You can practice Nordic walking around your local park, or even around town. However, as with any walking or hiking-based activities, half of the fun is the chance to experience some beautiful scenery.
Thankfully, the UK has no shortage of breathtaking views. Only a short drive out of almost every city, you can find a spot of countryside that offers picture-book landscapes, rolling hills and valleys: the Trossachs, Pennines and Bodmin Moor are just a few that spring to mind. Even if you live in central London, there are plenty of trails just outside of the city that would be perfect for Nordic walking.
Why not check out the Box Hill circular walk? Steep hills and stunning scenery ensure that you will get your blood pumping while taking in the surrounding views. The differing terrain also means that you’ll be adding variety to your walk by exercising a wide range of muscles. The trail also boasts several pubs that you can stop at to treat yourself to a hearty lunch.
There are also plenty of coastal walks if you prefer the seaside, like the Seven Sisters walk from Seaford to Eastbourne. Boasting some of the most charming ocean views in the UK, this trail takes you along the top of the gleaming white chalk cliffs and even features a traditional red and white lighthouse as part of its picturesque view. This walk can be difficult, so be prepared for a challenge.
Because of the sensitivity of varicose veins, not all kinds of exercise will do. But you can be sure that Nordic walking will help you boost good blood circulation without placing the harmful pressure on your veins that can accompany more intense forms of exercise.