5 travel tips if you have varicose veins

Vacation season is here! Many Arizonans will take quick trips to the beach or mountains while some will board long-haul flights to international destinations.

Terri Morrison, RN, co-founder of the Morrison Vein Institute in Scottsdale, says it's important to keep your veins in mind this summer, as travel can often involve long periods of sitting or long waits in lines. These situations can be painful for those with varicose veins and a problem for others trying to avoid them.

Here, Morrison offers five vein healthy tips for your summer travel.

Pump it up on the plane

The airplane cabin can be a trying environment for anyone, and sitting in a cramped seat for hours is even harder for those with vein disease.

"This situation can bring that dull, achy feeling in the legs for anyone with a history of vein disease. Stand up and walk the cabin aisle, if possible, and if you can't get up, pump that calf muscle while you're sitting," Morrison explained.

Simply lift up your heel like you're getting on your tippy toes in order to engage your calf muscle. This allows the blood to pump from the leg to the heart, which is key for vein health. Do it as much as possible, especially if the flight doesn't allow for getting out of your seat.

Get tight right

If you want to look great for that night out, think comfort too, and avoid the tight pants. While tight pants do not cause varicose veins, it has long been recommended to avoid them, particularly those that are snug in the waist area. A tight fit in the waist brings a tourniquet effect and the increased pressure on the abdomen hinders the venous system's goal of moving blood up from the legs to the heart.

However, properly fitted compression wear for the legs can indeed support circulation and should be worn as much as possible, Morrison noted.

Watch out for hot water

The hot water in spas makes veins dilate, which can be associated with weakening of vein walls. As tempting as it is to visit the hot tub for other aches or pains, it's a bad move for your veins.

Just limit your daily time in the heat, drink lots of water and elevate your legs after the heat sessions.

"Spas, saunas and even the overall heat of Arizona exacerbate our vein disease. You're better enjoying a cool dip in the swimming pool," Morrison said.

Water is the way

It can improve your mood, fight bad breath, heal chapped lips - water is nature's answer to so many of life's daily health problems. And it's the right choice for your veins too. When you travel, there's probably the temptation of alcohol, sweets and many other foods and drinks that can dehydrate your body. Keep water close by, Morrison adds. Staying hydrated keeps vein walls from narrowing and can prevent constipation, which also stresses the venous system.

Enjoy that book (with your feet up)

Many people enjoy quiet reading time while on vacation. If you are in a hotel room, find a space to prop your legs so that your feet are above your head. Or if you want to stretch out on a couch or bed, put a couple pillows under the feet so that they are elevated above the heart.

"This should be an everyday routine for everyone concerned about vein disease. It gives your veins a much-needed break and lets gravity take care of moving that blood up the legs. Use that down time to get those feet above your head whenever possible," Morrison said.