May is Physical Fitness and Sports Month. I would like to direct this news letter to our athletes. You would think young, athletic people would have no problems with their legs, but that is not correct. Sports activities which add more weight to the legs (weightlifting, skiing, backpacking) and repetitive motion sports (running, cycling, and tennis) put a lot of stress on the veins in the legs and can damage the delicate valves in the veins and exacerbate venous insufficiency in the athlete.
When athletes are exercising, their muscles require more oxygen. The arteries transport the oxygen rich blood and the active muscles help the veins return the oxygen poor blood to the heart. Once the exercise has ended, there is no calf muscle pump to help the veins return the blood. So the legs of the athlete with varicose veins may begin to ache, throb and feel heavy. If the legs are elevated, this will help the body defy gravity and return the oxygen poor blood to the heart. This is exactly how compression socks or support socks will help the athlete and may in the long run help prevent deep vein thrombosis. Performance socks use science to help professional athletes as well as the week-end warrior maximize performance as well as recovery. You may want to review a previous newsletter http://askvanda.com/2013/05/08/cep-what-are-they/ to learn how our support socks can increase performance and reduce injury.
A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot within a deep vein, usually in the legs. A pulmonary embolism (PE) is blockage caused by a blood clot in one of the pulmonary arteries in your lungs. It usually originates from a blood clot in the legs (DVT). You would think the athlete less likely to develop blood clots than the elderly. But that is the problem. Health care providers think the same way so when an athlete presents with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) symptoms, they interpret the symptoms as “muscle tear, “Charlie horse”, “twisted ankle”, or “shin splints”. Chest symptoms from an athlete with a Pulmonary Emboli (PE) are often interpreted as pulled muscle, inflammation of the joint between ribs and breast bone, bronchitis, asthma, or a touch of pneumonia.
Being an athlete and being apparently healthy does not guarantee they will not get blood clots. There are several risk factors that put the athlete as well as the non-athlete at increased risk for DVT and PE…
- Traveling long distances to and from sports events. It does not matter if it is by plane, bus, or car
- Dehydration (during and after a sport activity)
- Significant trauma
- Immobilization (wearing a brace or cast)
- Bone fracture or major surgery
- Birth control pills and patch, pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy
- Family history of DVT or PE
- Presence of inherited or acquired clotting disorder (Factor V Leiden, prothrombin 20210 mutation, antiphospholipid antibodies, and other clotting defects or deviancies
- Presence of a congenital abnormal formation of the veins
- May-Thurner Syndrome (narrowing of the major left pelvic vein)
- Narrowing or absence of the inferior vena cava (the main vein in the abdomen
- Cervical rib causing thoracic outlet obstruction
When an athlete works out, the muscles of the body act as a secondary pump to help move the blood back to the heart. The athlete also has a slower heart rate than the average person. During performance that is wonderful, but at times, that can be detrimental. After a work out or when the athlete travels the heart does not move the blood through the circulatory system as quickly as when the athlete is exercising. This is when a sock of at least 15-20mmHg is extremely important. It keeps the blood from pooling in the deep veins and forming a DVT.
Call one of our Certified Fitters for assistance with the selection of performance and/or recovery socks to enhance performance or prevent DVT and PE.
Enjoy your day!