Crossing your legs may be the most popular way of developing varicose veins (those purplish knotted veins found at the skin's surface, usually behind your calves). Veins become varicose when their valves (the tiny flaps which help bring the blood up to the heart) malfunction. When this happens, gravity takes its toll, and the blood fails to get pushed up. "Your blood is somewhat trapped and remains stagnant, thus distending the veins," says Dr. Valerie F. Gosiengfiao (chief resident of dermatology, University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital).

Here are 5 ways to improve your blood circulation and lessen your chance of developing varicose veins:

(First published in
Marie Claire Philippines, Health and Fitness section as "Vein Strain" in March 2006; adapted for use in Female Network)
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