For the past 18 months, many of us have significantly reduced our physical activity. Instead of walking across parking lots and down the long hallways of our offices, we simply roll out of bed and turn on the computer, working remotely from home.
This lack of activity has impacted both our mental and physical health—mental, meaning the stress, anxiety and depression the pandemic has caused, and physical, meaning all of the health problems that a sedentary lifestyle can cause, including leg pain, swelling and fatigue that result from a weakened calf muscle. (The calf muscle, you may recall, serves as your “second heart,” which helps pump blood and metabolic waste up and out of your lower legs.)
Combine all this with an underlying health condition, such as varicose veins, and you may be experiencing swollen, tired, achy legs that reduce your movement further. In short, if we do not move, we eventually become like the Tin Woodsman—rusty and immobile, standing frozen in the forest.
Our parents and grandparents were taught that if something hurts, you shouldn’t move it, but that is typically not the case. Unless you have an actual injury that needs time to heal, the best thing you can do to help sore legs is to walk, even if you don’t feel like it.
Of course, getting in your 5,000 to 10,000 steps each day won’t help completely if you have an underlying venous health problem. If you’re feeling a bit like the Tin Man or have any of the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to get checked out now: chronic leg pain • fatigue • itching • burning • inflammation • leg cramps • Restless Leg Syndrome.
Dr. Sonja Stiller is a diplomat of both the American Board of Emergency Medicine and the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine. She is the founder of the Center for Advanced Vein Care, a Tier 1 provider with Lake Health Hospital System, located at 7200 Mentor Avenue, in Mentor. For an appointment, call 440-710-1140. More info can be found at YourHealthyVeins.com.