Do you plan to go hiking this summer?

happy senior couple hiking on the mountain“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.” – Mary Davis, CEO of the Special Olympics

.We’re pretty lucky to live in Tuscaloosa County. There is plenty to do and see, especially if you’re willing to strap on your hiking shoes. This summer, challenge yourself and start hiking. There are some wonderful, easy trails to get started on right here in our county before you progress to some of the more difficult trails in the state.

Start with something easy like the Munny Sokol Park Trail. It’s a gentle 2.5-mile loop, and you can even take your dog (as long as they stay on the leash).

But if you’re ready to graduate to some of the more difficult climbs in the state, such as the Walls of Jericho Trail, it’s best to make sure you’re ready for the difficulty, especially if you’re living with vein issues.

Here are our tips to make hiking easier, even if you have varicose or spider veins.

  • Make sure you have the proper footwear. Choosing the right hiking boot or shoe is a complicated process. Visit your local outdoor recreation shop and speak to an expert. Ensure you thoroughly try your shoes out and break them in before you go for a big hike!
  • Wear compression socks (or clothing). If your legs are prone to swelling or pain, compression wear can help. Make sure to choose the right type of socks to help manage your pain, or keep a couple of different pairs in your pack during the hike. You can even try out athletic compression leggings or outerwear to help.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated. Hydration is so important when you are exercising outdoors, especially if you have vein health issues. You want to ensure that your body has enough H20 in your system to keep your circulation flowing. Pack extra water and stay hydrated as you go.
  • Use walking poles. Walking poles or trekking poles are a great way to alleviate some pressure on your joints as you hike. They can improve your posture and stability and help on uphill stretches. If you’re considering using poles, talk to an expert at an outdoor recreation shop to find the best ones for your body.
  • Bring healthy, low-sodium snacks. Stay away from salty foods like trail mix or beef jerky. They can cause swelling and dehydration. Instead, pack fresh fruit (if you can), whole grains, or dried fruit. Make sure to have plenty of food to keep your body’s energy levels high.

Hiking is a great way to spend time outdoors, make memories with your family, and stay healthy. It’s also an easy way to start exercising. So if you are new to exercise or recovering from vein treatment, start slow. Use the local trails around town to build up your stamina until you’re ready to tackle a more difficult hike.

Now more than ever it’s time to celebrate your body!

Beautiful curvy women taking a selfie at the beachIt’s been a long year, and now that things are finally looking up, many of us are starting to feel nervous. What’s it like to return to ‘normal life’ after a pandemic? How will others perceive us after a year apart? Will others judge me if I’ve changed? Thoughts like these may be running through your head after a year of social distancing. It’s okay to be nervous, feel a little bit leery, or even afraid of social interaction. Our defense mechanism this past year was to stay home and hunker down. Now that the world is beginning to open up, it can be hard to turn those feelings off.

Another reason you may be feeling nervous is if you’ve gained weight, changed your appearance, or developed health issues during the year away. Many people have, and there is nothing wrong with that. Stress affects your body in a variety of ways, and it’s been an incredibly stressful year.

After a year of quarantine, it doesn’t help to be surrounded by advertisements and media stories on looking your best. These messages are not healthy, and they undermine how hard you’ve worked to stay positive and healthy this year during unimaginable circumstances. So if you are feeling any of those feelings, we have a message for you. It’s okay.

It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, what you look like, or even if you have varicose or spider veins. You are beautiful, just as you are. After the year that we have all experienced, let’s agree to throw away the toxic belief that you need to look a certain way to feel good. You don’t. If we’ve all learned anything from COVID-19, the things that matter most, like our family, friends, and health, can’t be bought.

This past year, we haven’t been able to gather together, have parties, go to the gym, go on vacations, or do many of the things that normally bring us happiness. Instead, we’ve had to gather close with our families, stay home, and stay safe. It’s been a huge sacrifice, and we should celebrate our determination to look out for others.

If you’re ready to seek vein treatment, that’s great. We promise that we’re here to help you feel your best when you come into our clinic. Our treatments aren’t just cosmetic. They are necessary to help remove the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of venous insufficiency. Getting your vein health issues treated won’t automatically increase your confidence. Only you can do that. The treatments we offer help relieve the symptoms that make it harder for you to enjoy your life.

After this hard year, let’s celebrate your body for helping you get through a hard time. Celebrate the time you get to spend with family and friends instead of worrying about what to wear or what you look like. We’ve all learned how hard it is to do life apart from one another. Let’s rejoice in being together again!

5 serious complications that can start with varicose veins

Painful varicose veinsMany of our patients come to us with varicose veins. The National Institute of Health says that 25% of women and 15% of men have them.

For most of our patients, varicose veins are caused by genetics, lifestyle, or occupational factors. When left untreated, they can cause discomfort, leg pain, and swelling. Many people don’t like the look of varicose veins, which bulge out along the leg. Some patients experience shame, embarrassment, or fear of others seeing their varicose veins.

Thankfully, varicose veins are easy to treat and remove. However, waiting to get your veins treated can lead to more serious health problems, as these issues will only worsen over time. Here are five complications that can arise from varicose veins.

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Deep Vein Thrombosis is a serious medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein in the body. Typically these clots form in the legs or thighs, but they can also form in the upper body and lead to Upper Extremity DVT. People with varicose veins are at an increased risk of developing DVT, which can cause swelling, cramping, and severe pain. Untreated DVT can lead to a pulmonary embolism which is when a blood clot moves to the lungs. This is a serious condition that requires emergency care and could be life-threatening.
  • Leg Ulcers: Varicose veins are an early symptom of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Without proper treatment, CVI can worsen, affecting more veins and even leading to leg ulcers. A leg ulcer is a large, open wound usually located near the ankle. These wounds are challenging to treat and can be very painful. We offer treatments that reduce the risk of infection and gangrene.
  • Excessive bleeding. Varicose veins sit near the surface of your skin and are more susceptible to cuts and scrapes. When you cut or damage the skin near a varicose vein, it can lead to excessive bleeding that may be difficult to stop. Seek medical attention if you suffer a cut near a varicose vein, and the bleeding doesn’t stop when you apply pressure or elevate your leg.
  • Skin issues. One of the most uncomfortable side effects of varicose veins is varicose eczema. Eczema occurs when the skin is irritated. It’s like a rash but more difficult to treat. Some patients develop large patches of eczema near varicose veins or even blisters and sores.
  • Lipodermatosclerosis: Sometimes, varicose veins cause lipodermatosclerosis, a condition that causes the skin to harden and become tight. Lipodermatosclerosis causes your skin to change color and usually occurs near the calves. It is tough to treat and often non-reversible.

For many of our patients, varicose veins aren’t a big deal. They are common and easily treatable if you take action when they first appear. If you allow your varicose veins to progress, you’re more likely to experience potentially serious complications. Don’t wait. If you find varicose veins on your legs, call us to schedule a consultation.

4 ways to reduce your stress during COVID-19

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We can all agree that 2020 was a rough year. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, and everyone has been affected. In a survey for the American Psychological Association, 8 out of 10 people said the pandemic is a significant source of stress in their life, and 7 out of 10 said they experienced increased stress this past year. The pandemic is still ongoing, and even though case numbers are dropping and vaccines are being distributed, the fear and uncertainty can still be hard on your mental health.

Stress doesn’t just affect your mental health. It also affects your physical health. Increased stress is linked to circulatory issues, including varicose and spider veins. Chronic stress triggers stress hormones which put increased pressure on the vascular system. Over time, this increased pressure can damage blood vessels and lead to vein health issues.

Unfortunately, many ways we like to deal with stress are hard to do during a pandemic. It’s not easy to see family or friends, go on a trip or other activities that help us relieve stress. So what are some ways you can reduce your stress safely? Here are a few suggestions we’ve found.

  1. Go outside. Spending time outdoors is a safe and easy way to recharge and relax. Go for a walk, a hike, a bike ride, whatever you have to do to feel a little better. Make a concentrated effort to spend more time outdoors to help reduce your stress.
  2. Seek mental health support. It may be harder to schedule a visit with a doctor or counselor right now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. There are options for virtual counseling sessions and other socially distanced ways to get the mental health support you need. Now is not the time to neglect your health. Seek help if you need it.
  3. Exercise. Physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Even if you can’t go to the gym, find ways to stay active at home. Do at-home workouts, buy home exercise equipment, or go for a walk. Get your body moving, and you’ll start to feel better.
  4. Prioritize sleep. Poor sleep or insomnia can be an indicator of chronic stress. If you are struggling with sleep, seek professional help to fix the problem. Sleep is so important for your overall health. Talk to your doctor about ways you can fix your sleep issues.

We know that right now, life is hard for everyone. The collective stress we are all feeling isn’t easy to deal with, and it’s hard on our bodies. Don’t beat yourself up if you are struggling. Reach out to others for help and seek medical attention if you need it. That can include our clinic.

If your vein health issues have worsened because of increased stress, call us today. The last thing you need to deal with are the symptoms of varicose or spider veins. Let us help you get rid of at least one stress in your life. (205) 710-3800.

Don’t be afraid to walk barefoot!

41752601 - little feet on the grass, close up photoDo you remember how fun it was to run through the grass in your bare feet as a kid? There’s no feeling as freeing as the deep grass pushing up between your toes. Even better is the feeling of sand beneath your feet at the beach!

Any parent of young children can tell you that kids love the feeling – it’s why they fight so hard against wearing shoes! Shoes are great, but we could all take a lesson from our youth. Walking barefoot can be good for you! Here are a few benefits of barefoot walking you may not know.

  • It’s better for your balance. Your foot is the ultimate shoe. Your feet are designed for your body and how you stand. When you walk barefoot, you can better control how your feet strike the ground, which helps you maintain your balance. Doctors have even found that walking barefoot can improve your body awareness and help with pain relief.
  • It’s better for your body. Walking barefoot helps your body adjust to your natural gait and not how you walk in certain kinds of shoes. This can help improve the mechanics of your hips, knees, and other joints in the legs.
  • It helps strengthen your leg muscles. Those nice, comfy shoes are coddling your feet. Walking barefoot helps strengthen your hamstrings and calves because your legs are doing the work and not your shoes.

We all know that when you suffer from leg pain caused by circulatory issues, any relief can help. We always recommend vein treatment. It’s quick, easy, and gets rid of the pain once and for all. But it can’t hurt to try walking around barefoot a little more as well, even just at home. If you want to let your toes feel the breeze, follow these tips.

  • Start slow. If you wear shoes all the time, it can feel weird to go barefoot suddenly. So start slow, and take off your shoes at home. After a few weeks of adjusting, you’ll start to like how it feels, and your toes will love the freedom!
  • Get a pedicure. If you’re going to be showing off your little piggies, you want to make sure they look good. A pedicure is a great way to treat yourself, make your feet look good, and it’s super relaxing!
  • Have fun. Once you start the barefoot life, you’ll never want to go back. Remember, you’re not saying goodbye to shoes for forever, just in the right settings, like at home, on the beach, or in that nice, tall grass.

Summer is here and this year, let your feet be free once in and while. Remember how it felt as a kid and enjoy walking around barefoot on a beautiful day. If you’re nervous to show off your legs and feet, see us to get your varicose or spider veins removed. It’s quick, easy to recover from, and it will make you love walking barefoot even more!