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How can my footwear cause spider veins?

I frequently wear high heels and my friend said I'm going to end up with spider veins in my feet. Although my feet sometimes ache, I haven't noticed any vein issues anywhere. Will continuing to wear high heels cause spider veins? How will I know if my shoes are causing spider veins? Can certain shoes prevent spider veins?


Doctors Answers (4)

Both the arch of the foot and the calf muscles of the leg are important as muscular pumps that help in lifting venous blood up and out of the legs to return blood to the heart. When you stand in one place, these muscles are not being used and venous blood tends to accumulate in the legs, making the legs ache due to the increasing volume and pressure of the venous blood staying in the legs. Walking or any leg movements will use these muscle groups, which lift blood out of the legs and reduces venous volume and pressure. Walking or movement will also improve soreness and aching in the legs that occur with standing. Shoes that are designed for fashion instead of function, such as high heeled shoes, keep the heel elevated and the calf muscles and foot arch muscles contracted. This will result in disabling these muscles as effective pumps with eventual enlargement of the leg veins, including varicose veins, reticular veins and spider veins. Better shoes, anti-fatigue mats, proper arch support, and frequent walking will all help prevent problem veins. If you must stand in one place frequently (such as teachers and nurses) or are required to wear high heels, then compression leg hose may also be helpful.

I do not believe that footwear will cause "spider veins." The rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the muscles in the back of the calf pumps the venous blood out of our legs. When we walk in high heel shoes, the posterior calf muscles do not fully relax, and this impairs the efficiency of the muscular pumping of venous blood out of our legs. In theory, this decreased pumping efficiency might result in higher pressure in the superficial veins of the calves with more rapid progression of stretching and development of varicose veins. I am not aware of any proof that this is a problem, but it is a reason that one might not want to wear high heel shoes on a routine basis.

High heels do not allow good return flow of blood back to the heart. The calf muscle never contracts when in high heels. Flexion or contraction of this muscle is needed for good blood return. You friend has provided you with helpful information.

We are unaware of any causal relationship between heeled footwear and spider veins.

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