Fact or Fiction? Crossing your legs and wearing high-heels causes varicose veins.

You have probably heard that crossing your legs and wearing high heels will cause varicose veins, and you’ve wondered if that is a wives’ tale or truth. Some vascular surgeons looked at these two common habits and were surprised with what they found.

The act of crossing your legs does not cause venous reflux disease, but it can contribute to the overall problem. When men or women cross their legs, it causes the venous blood pressure in their legs to increase. Crossing your legs makes it harder for blood to get out of the legs because it interferes with the flow path and direction of blood from the legs to the heart. The resulting elevated venous pressure puts a strain on the valves inside the leg veins, which can affect valve function over time.

Wearing high heels can also contribute to vein disease. A recent study looked at the venous blood pressure in the legs of women walking on a treadmill with or without high-heeled shoes. The study found that the calf muscles contract less in women wearing high-heeled shoes than those wearing flat bottom shoes. Less blood is pushed out of the leg when the calf muscles do not contract. This causes the venous blood pressure to increase and can stress the valves in the veins. Like crossing the legs, wearing heels can contribute to the overall venous reflux disease problem.

You do not have to stop crossing your legs or wearing heels, but you should be aware of what you are doing. If you constantly cross your legs or are wearing heels, make an effort to stretch your calf muscles throughout the day to ensure good blood flow in the legs.

For those who develop symptoms (throbbing, aching, cramping, heaviness, fatigue, tiredness, restlessness, burning) and signs (swelling, discoloration, ulcers, varicose veins, spider veins) of venous reflux disease, there is a simple procedure to correct the problem. The procedure is performed in the office in 15/30 minutes without pain and patients resume activity almost immediately.