Exercise program for rehabilitation following varicose veins surgery.
Please note: the following is a guide only and may not apply to everybody. Always take the advice of your surgeon and other medical personnel. Read our disclaimer
As soon as you wake up after the surgery begin the following bed exercises at least once an hour:
Move your feet and toes and down vigorously. Circle them 10 times in each direction. The purpose of this help maintain your circulation and prevent the rare but serious complication of a deep vein thrombosis.
Knee and hip exercises
Bend and straighten your knee slowly and gently 5 times by sliding your foot along the bed.
You should be allowed to get out of bed and walk soon after you have eaten your first meal. Walk to and from the bathroom on the first day and if possible a little further.
Take your pain medication as advised by your doctor. Pain relief will help you perform your exercises better and therefore improve your recovery.
Elevating your affected leg on a soft pillow may assist your circulation and reduce swelling. Check with your medical staff first.
Applying Surgical Stockings
Before putting on your surgical stockings turn the stocking inside out down to the heel. Slide your foot into the stocking up to the heel then ease it up over your leg – it will hurt! Surgical stockings with a cutout toe hole are easier to put on. Place a plastic bag on the end of your foot then slide the stocking on over the plastic bag. Remove the bag through the toe hole.
Continue your bed exercises as above on an hourly basis.
Extend the duration of your walking to periods of up to 10 minutes if possible. Try to get up and walk at least once every 2 hours.
Continue to take pain medication as required. It will help you do your exercises so you can recover more quickly.
Day 2 to 5
In place of the bed exercises get out of bed and walk every hour during the day for a short period. Walk continuously for at least 15 minutes twice a day on flat ground. You may find the walking is quite painful to begin with however the longer you walk, the less pain you should experience.
When walking, try to put your full weight on the affected leg and minimise limping as much as possible. Do not rush the weight bearing phase on your affected leg and try to use the muscles of this leg normally. Always wear your surgical stockings when walking. Avoid prolonged sitting or standing and elevate your leg when lying down.
Day 6 onwards
Continue your walking programme for at least 30 minutes everyday. Include some hills. Start each walk slowly and try to put even weight on both legs. Gradually lengthen your stride and increase your speed as you start to feel more comfortable. Ensure that your stride length is the same on both legs.
Using a pedometer may help to encourage you with your walking. I recommend the fitbit which i found incredibly motivating. It logs the number of steps you have taken each day, the distance covered and the calories you’ve burned. Little flashing lights on your wrist band show your progress and give you positive feedback. The fitbit also monitors your sleep quality at night.
The muscles and fascia of the calf and / or inner thigh are likely to become very tight following your surgery. These stretches can be performed gently and gradually progressed from the easy to the more difficult versions over the 6 weeks following surgery.
- Calf stretches
- Inner Thigh Stretches (adductors)
- Hamstring Stretches
- Hip Flexor Stretches
Soft tissue massage can be helpful for relieving congestion and breaking down scar tissue, while improving comfort and mobility. Refer to the advice if you’re surgeon as there are situations in which massage could be inadvisable or dangerous (especially infection or deep vein thrombosis).
Begin extremely gently by rubbing in the Hirudoid cream, working it in an upward direction (towards the groin). Don’t use excessive pressure. From approximately 4 weeks after the surgery you can begin to use more pressure and include small circular movements over the lumps in your calf or thigh. If there are still lumps in your thigh or calf after 6 weeks, use a foam roller to massage the soft tissue daily.
Beyond 6 weeks
See your surgeon for a post operative check. Continue all your exercises until you have no further symptoms. If you’re not normally someone who exercises regularly, consider making a 30 minute walk part of your daily routine for the rest if you’re life.
As little as 2.5 hours of moderate activity every week (ideally as 30 minutes minimum every day) can reduce the chance of your veins recurring as well as improve your general and physical health. You are likely to live both a longer and happier life if you make this simple lifestyle change. If you need motivation go with a friend, join a walking group or buy a fitbit or other pedometer.