Can You Exercise with DVT?

Blog Post
By BASS Vein Center
Can You Exercise with DVT?
November 3, 2023

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a venous condition in which blood clots form in one of the body’s deep veins. DVT can become serious if the blood clot breaks free and potentially travels into the lungs. Risk factors of DVT include age, weight, injury, or a history of venous disorders. Individuals who are at risk of DVT should know both the warning signs and how to manage the condition.

If you have DVT, it is always important to discuss treatment and care with your doctor. There are multiple treatment options that might be used depending on an individual’s case. Blood thinning medication, compression, and surgical procedures can all be used to treat DVT. But many people also wonder, can you exercise with DVT? Many patients are often concerned that strenuous exercise could break their blood clots loose or cause greater stress. But it’s important to know that light exercise can actually help alleviate the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis.

Exercising With DVT

While you can exercise with DVT, caution is heavily advised. Always discuss exercise plans with a doctor before attempting anything. Overly strenuous exercise while suffering from DVT symptoms can cause complications and negatively affect your health. Exercising with DVT should start light, and build up slowly over time.

A common exercise regimen involves going for walks every day and gradually adding more time to each walk. The following schedule reflects a commonly prescribed exercise routine for people with DVT:

  • Week 1: 5-minute walks, 3-4 times per day, taking breaks in between.
  • Week 2: 10-minute walks, 3-4 times per day, taking breaks in between.
  • Week 3: 20-minute walks, 3 times per day (totaling 1 hour), taking breaks in between.
  • Week 4: 30-minute walks, 2 times per day.
  • Week 5: One 40-minute walk each day.

The reason this walking regimen can help with DVT is that light exercise helps to improve circulation. As long as you don’t overwork yourself, exercising with DVT can actually lessen the risk of health complications associated with the condition.

What Are Some Acceptable Exercises

The acceptability of exercises for someone with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) depends on the severity of the condition, individual factors, and guidance from a healthcare provider. Here are some exercises that are often considered acceptable for individuals with DVT:

  • Swimming: Swimming and water aerobics are excellent options because they provide gentle resistance and support for the legs. The buoyancy of the water can help reduce the risk of injury.
  • Stationary Cycling: Using a stationary bike can be a low-impact way to improve cardiovascular fitness and leg circulation. Ensure that the seat is adjusted properly to prevent excessive bending of the knee.
  • Leg Elevation Exercises: Simple leg elevation exercises, such as ankle pumps and leg lifts, can help prevent blood clots and improve blood flow. These can often be done while lying down or sitting.
  • Range of Motion Exercises: Gentle range of motion exercises can help maintain joint flexibility and reduce the risk of stiffness in the legs. Ankle circles and knee bends are examples of such exercises.
  • Breathing Exercises: Deep breathing exercises can help improve lung function and circulation. They are especially useful if you are bedridden or have limited mobility due to DVT.
  • Physical Therapy: In some cases, physical therapy prescribed by a healthcare provider can be beneficial. A physical therapist can design a customized exercise program tailored to your needs and limitations.

It is important to note that you should never start any exercise program for DVT without consulting your healthcare provider first. They will assess your condition, provide specific recommendations, and ensure that the exercises you choose are safe for your particular situation. Additionally, your healthcare provider will monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your exercise routine as you continue your recovery from DVT.

Other DVT Treatment Options

Exercise is an effective means to reduce the symptoms and risk of complications from DVT. But other medical options are available to treat DVT.

Prescribed blood thinners are one of the most frequently used forms of DVT treatment. These medications reduce the risk of developing blood clots in the legs when taken as prescribed.

To remove a blood clot or treat the underlying cause of DVT, medical procedures are also available. These procedures are less common than at-home treatments, but are highly effective. Thrombolysis is a procedure in which a small catheter is inserted to break up blood clots and stabilize blood flow. Other medical procedures are available to treat vein disorders by sealing or removing the damaged veins. These procedures often have surprisingly quick recovery times, allowing patients to return home and resume normal activities the same day.

To learn more about vein disease and vein health, or schedule a consultation for DVT treatment, contact BASS Vein Center. With six California locations, Bass Vein Center is the region’s most trusted source for vein treatment.

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