Varicose Veins: Are your shoes the problem?

Varicose and spider veins aren’t a sign of aging—they’re a sign of too much pressure on your legs. Professions that require standing for long periods of time—mailmen, doctors, waitresses—are especially susceptible to varicose veins. By combining the right kind of socks with a supportive shoe, the pressure can be relieved and the unsightly problem prevented. Before you can find the right shoe, however, you’ll need to know what kind of foot you have.

The Shape of Your Feet

Let’s start with the easiest thing first: whether your feet are narrow, wide, or standard. After years of trial and error when shoe shopping, you may already know. If you don’t, it’s as easy as measuring both feet at the widest point (near the toes). Subtract 1/8 of an inch from your largest number, then apply your measurements to the shoe size chart applicable to your shoe size. Most charts, like the one below, will show you all three measurements—standard, narrow, and wide—as related to your shoe size.
Shoe size chart

To determine how high your arches are, you’ll only need a small amount of water in a tray and a piece of paper. After getting your feet wet, stand on the paper. Your foot shape will be easily visible when you move off of the paper, and what you see can tell you a lot. In the middle of your foot imprint, where the arch would be, standard arches will see about half of their foot width. High arches will have almost nothing visible in between the heel and toe, while low arches (also known as flat feet) will have nearly the entire foot visible.

How to Choose Your Shoes (and Socks)

To take some of the pressure off your feet, you’ll want to invest in shoes and socks that will support your feet, no matter how they’re shaped. Some jobs may require shoes with rubber soles, or non-mesh tops; be sure to keep these restrictions in mind while you’re shopping.
For varicose veins, compression stockings or socks are incredibly helpful at prevention. They work by putting pressure on the veins, causing an increase in blood flow. Since varicose veins are caused by blood back-up within the legs, compression stockings and socks work to prevent the disorder to begin with.
Shoes, however, are a little trickier: typically, minimalist shoes with lower heels have a positive impact on foot health. Over-supporting your arch and heel is possible, and can manifest in foot and joint pain. Try to avoid shoes with positive heels—where the heel is taller than the toe—and do a little research on which shoes may best fit your needs. With hundreds and thousands of options when it comes to what you put on your foot, you’ll want to consider everything from the shape of your foot to what you need shoes for.

Other Beneficial Habits

Good socks and shoes, however helpful, don’t cover the entire realm of foot health for varicose veins. Instead of sentencing yourself to a painful medical problem that’s more than aesthetic, employ a few of these practices:

  • Work it Out: Even if you’re on your feet all day, that doesn’t count as giving your legs a proper work out. To help keep the blood flowing properly, you’ll want to do a little exercise at least three times a week. Squats, leg curls, cycling or even leg presses will definitely improve your leg health—so make time to work it out!
  • Eat Better: While diet and exercise may seem like the response to everything, it truly matters when it comes to how healthy your body is. Because varicose veins are a problem that involves your veins, blood, and heart, you’ll want to improve the systems you’re working with. What better way to improve your output than by starting with the input?
  • Break it Up: Give your legs a rest—literally. Taking breaks to stretch or massage your muscles can help them relax and encourage increased blood flow. The extra flow will relieve the tension you’re feeling from a long day of working hard in addition to fighting against varicose veins.

Varicose veins are more than an aesthetic problem: they’re a sign of damaged and weak veins. By combining healthy practices with supportive shoes, your legs can be back to their former glory in no time. Contact us for more information on varicose vein treatment—we love hearing from you!