In my last blog writing, I mentioned that for the past few years I've been dealing with some circulation issues in the lower part of my right leg (the area of my body that actually experienced the most trauma during my extreme ultra-running pursuits). I have a couple of varicose veins just below my right knee, which typically occur due to weakened valves or increased blood pressure in the veins. Athletes who are most vulnerable to varicose veins focus on sports that rely on the legs to support additional weight over extended periods of time. In my case, I pushed a 70+ pound jogging stroller of gear for thousands of miles across states and countries while maintaining a 30-mile-per-day average. Repetitive motion activities (like running) increase the amount of stress in the legs and veins. Studies show that certain sports can increase your risk of varicose veins, including:
- Running – Prolonged periods of time upright can cause blood to pool in the lower legs.
- Weightlifting – Excessive straining can damage or worsen already damaged vein valves.
- Cycling – Prolonged periods of time sitting can cause blood to pool in the lower legs.
- Tennis – Short impacts on the legs can damage your vein valves.
- Skiing – Increased intra-abdominal pressure can damage vein valves.
- Football – Extreme physical contact can easily damage vein valves or break existing varicose veins.
High quality compression socks feature therapeutic graduated compression. This is the only option for enhancing circulation in the legs. Graduated compression is providing a constant amount of pressure to your circulatory system to fight gravity and pump blood back to your heart. Traditional compression socks are available in four different levels of compression. You’ll find them measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg), which indicates the amount of pressure the sock/sleeve will apply to your leg. The higher the measurement, the more pressure.
- Under 15 mmHg: This is considered mild or light compression, and is typically recommended for healthy people who are tired from standing or sitting all day -- such as pregnant women, waitresses, and medical professionals.
- 15 to 20 mmHg: This is considered moderate compression, and can help prevent deep vein thrombosis or prevent leg swelling for those traveling by airplane.
- 20 to 30 mmHg: This third tier is sometimes referred to as "medical-grade" compression, and can be used to help prevent and treat varicose veins, edema, and blood clots.
- 30+ mmHg: Compression that measures 30 mmHg or above is often seen in post-surgical situations.
No, I'm not experiencing compression depression. It's just a fact of life for the type of extreme ultra-running lifestyle that I've lead. Life is a series of adjustments and this is simply one that I'll have to make.
Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,