Is there any truth to the common questions 'does crossing my legs cause varicose veins' and 'will I get varicose veins by wearing high heels every day?'  or are they just old wives tales?

The act of crossing your legs does not cause varicose veins, however, if you have a predisposition to other factors such as genetics, or hormonal fluctuations in women (eg during pregnancy or menopause), your risk could only minimally increase. When crossing your legs, the venous blood pressure in the legs increases, crossing your legs interferes with the flow path and direction of blood from the lower legs back to the heart. The resulting elevated venous pressure can put strain on the valves inside the leg veins,  but even if you have a strong familial tendency, if you stay healthy and active, the muscles in your legs are pumping and that means you’re draining the leg. This one is a MYTH!

Wearing high heels makes your legs look great, but will they have the opposite effect in the long run?  A US study compared the venous blood pressure in the legs of women walking on a treadmill with and without high-heeled shoes.  Normal walking coordinates the foot and calf pump. When the foot is off the floor, the foot veins fill with blood. As the heel and arch of the foot contact the floor, the blood flows into the relaxed calf veins. The calf muscles then contract which propels blood up the deep veins.

High heels change the natural walking motion, shifting the weight to the fore foot and toes and causes the calf muscles to remain contracted. This results in a decrease in the filling of the foot and calf veins and a less forceful calf muscle pump. This lose of efficiency causes pooling of venous blood in the leg. The answer to this question is FACT!

The news isn't all bad! You don't have to stop crossing your legs or wearing heels, but you should be aware of what you are doing. If you constantly cross your legs or wear heels, make an effort to stretch your calf muscles throughout the day to ensure good blood flow in the legs, and mix up your footwear, give your legs (and feet) a break from the heels! And remember to keep active and walk at least 30 min a day to ensure your calves are pumping blood back up the system.

If you notice developing symptoms such as aching, heaviness, fatigue or swelling, have a consultation with a venous specialist, today's treatments have you back on your feet and enjoying life straight away!

AuthorNicholas Kemp