Can working out with weights harm that DVT in your calf or possibly help dissolve it?

Being that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the many risk factors for a deep vein thrombosis, it’s fair to wonder if lifting weights with a DVT in one’s lower leg could actually help improve the situation.

On the other hand, it’s equally as compelling to wonder if strength training could make the blood clot worse.

“Our management of DVT is very different now as opposed to several years ago,” says Dr. Moji Gashti, Chief, Division of Vascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, MD.

Dr. Gashti continues, “It used to be that these patients would be on bed rest for days before they were allowed to ambulate.”

The irony with that is that excessive bed rest is another risk factor for a DVT.

“These days, however, we have them ambulate right away and carry on with their normal activities.

Lifting Weights with a DVT

“Lifting weights would actually produce a valsalva maneuver, which, if anything, would actually reverse venous blood flow from your lower extremities (towards your feet), and therefore should not cause any problems.”

The valsalva maneuver is practiced by some weightlifters and bodybuilders.

It’s when a person holds their breath while bearing down — like you might do when straining to push out a very hard bowel movement that doesn’t want to exit.

Upon straining to push against resistance at the gym, a person may find themselves bearing down — holding their breath as they strain with the lift rather than exhaling.

However, not all people who lift weights do this; many exhale against the lift.

If you do not employ the valsalva maneuver during your strength training, you should ask your doctor what he thinks about working out with a deep vein thrombosis.

Dr. Gashti specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease including abdominal and aortic aneurysm.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and personal/cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.