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Pandemic Wind-Down – Get Your Legs Back Into Gear

Pandemic Wind-Down – Get Your Legs Back Into Gear

Many of us have spent the past year dealing with lockdowns, school closures, “social distancing”, and altered work patterns. With all of these changes it has been easy to put health maintenance and medical issues on the back-burner. Thankfully it appears that pandemic numbers are trending in the right direction. Now is the perfect time to assess your health and wellness priorities, and get your legs back into shape.

Lockdowns: A Double-Edged Sword

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic Federal and State government agencies in the US (and many countries across the world) imposed various degrees of physical lockdown. Although well-intended these lockdowns are a double-edged sword, with a range of consequences that have negatively affected large portions of our population.

Financial Consequences:

A major consequence of lockdown has been financial devastation for millions of businesses and individuals. If your business (or place of employment) has closed, or had its hours restricted then you’re acutely aware of the financial hardship that comes with sweeping lockdowns.  

Psychological Consequences:

Multiple studies are now shining a spotlight on the adverse psychological consequences of both lock-downs and school closures. These consequences are widespread, significant and span the full spectrum of the population; students, adults, and the elderly have all been adversely affected. School-aged children are particularly vulnerable to social isolation, and many students have experienced impaired cognitive and psychosocial development. Increased rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide have also been reported.

Physical / Health Consequences:

Lockdowns have had an adverse effect on various preventative health endeavors. For example, fewer people have been attending cancer screenings (mammograms, colonoscopies, etc)

Another health issue worsened by lockdowns is vascular disease and vein problems. During lockdowns people have been watching Netflix like crazy, and doing a lot of sitting around. Vascular problems occur more frequently in people who are overweight, obese and inactive. Reduced physical activity during lockdowns is contributing to this problem.

For many people working from home during the pandemic has meant more “computer time”. Between Zoom meetings and remote work duties, it’s not uncommon to spend several hours per day in front of a computer. Although some people have fancy desks that go up and down, for most of us more computer work equals more time sitting.

How does being inactive worsen vein problems?

Every time you take a step you’re using your leg muscles. When your calf muscles “contract” they squeeze the veins, which helps shunt blood back to the heart. This squeezing function actually has a medical name; the “calf-muscle pump”. When you spend long portions of your day sitting around the calf muscles have less need to contract, and vein blood can pool in the lower part of your leg.

Four Things You Can Take to Minimize Vein Problems Today

      1. Time to get moving

Above:  Shelby (a Whippet) taking Dr. Ford for a walk!

Simple activities (like walking or cycling) help circulate the blood in your legs. A reasonable target is 30 minutes of brisk walking 3-5 times per week.

      2. Keep your weight under control

Dust off those scales. A commonly used value to determine if you are overweight is the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI = your weight in kg divided by your height in meters (squared). If you are overweight or obese your BMI will be higher than normal. An ideal BMI is generally in the 20-25 range.

      3. Elevate your legs

A simple thing you can do is elevate the legs. Remember if you can get the calves slightly “higher than your heart” gravity will be on your side!

Why am I always propping my legs up?

      4. Try Compression Hose

Medical-grade compression hose can help alleviate swelling and symptoms in the lower legs. Medi USA is the market leading vendor for compression hose.

Bottom Line:

It’s time to get moving and get active. We can’t control everything, but we can control decisions we make about our activity level and health decisions.

Now is a great time to take advantage of outdoor activities our beautiful state offers. North Carolina is home to some amazing natural beauty and State Parks.

Chimney Rock State Park:  Located 95 miles west of Charlotte (25 miles east of Asheville)...  A great day trip & place to get some steps in - 499 steps to the top! 


If your legs are bothering you it might be related to prolonged inactivity during the pandemic. It’s also possible it could be the result of underlying vein problems.

If you’re experiencing unexplained leg pain, swelling, leg cramping or leg restlessness you should get your legs evaluated by a vein specialist. Dr. Peter Ford at Vascular Solutions (Arboretum, South Charlotte) is a board-certified vascular surgeon who specializes in the treatment of varicose veins and vein problems.




Peter Ford MD FACS RPVI Peter Ford, MD, FACS, RPVI, is a board certified vascular surgeon who works at Vascular Solutions in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Ford specializes in the management of varicose veins and venous disease.

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