When you think of varicose veins, you likely imagine them on an older or unfit individual. However, anyone, including young athletes, can develop varicose veins.

They are not necessarily associated with any symptoms and may be simply a cosmetic issue in many cases. However, in many cases, they can cause pain, aching, cramping and swelling of the legs, and the skin in the surrounding area may become irritated or even inflamed.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are caused by the damage or weakening of the one-way valves or walls of the superficial veins in your legs, resulting in the blood not being pumped efficiently and instead accumulating in the vein.

Close to half of all adults will develop varicose veins at some point in their lives. Being female, overweight, pregnant, older or leading a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk for varicose veins.

Varicose Veins Are Genetic

Unfortunately, even if you have none of the above-mentioned risk factors, it does not mean that you will not develop varicose veins. This is because there is also a large hereditary component involved with up to 80 percent of all cases of varicose veins reportedly being genetic.

Although it can be difficult to determine which cases are hereditary and which are sporadic, some sources suggest that if one of your parents has suffered from varicose veins, your risk of developing them yourself is about 33 percent. If both your parents have a history of the disease, your risk is close to 90 percent. So even if you are young, fit, strong and healthy, there is always a slight risk that you will develop varicose veins if there is a family history of them.

Effects of Varicose Veins on Athletes

Although varicose veins are not always associated with any symptoms and you may not notice an effect immediately on your training, it is important to keep in mind that during exercise, the muscles require more oxygen, which is accomplished by increased blood flow through the arteries. This extra blood needs to be carried back to the heart through the leg veins, and this might exacerbate your symptoms. Varicose veins tend to get worse over time, and if left untreated, they may end up hindering your ability to train and perform at your usual level. Working out does not sound appealing when your legs are heavy, tired or achy. If you want to keep your legs in the game, you may want to consider discussing treatment options available for unsightly varicose veins or heavy, tired achy legs. To learn more about treatments with little downtime, contact a vein specialist today.

To discuss the different treatment options available, contact your doctor or varicose vein specialist today.