Swollen legs and feet after a long flight are uncomfortable, but not uncommon. When you spend a lot of time in confined spaces and can't move around, the veins in your legs have a hard time circulating blood back to your heart. This can cause pressure and swelling in the lower half of the leg.
Wearing compression stockings while flying is becoming a popular way to prevent post-flight swelling.
While it's true that compression socks are good for airline travelers, there are a few things you should know before trying them. This article will cover everything you need to know about flying in compression socks, including the types of socks, and who should and shouldn't wear them.
About compression socks
Compression stockings and compression stockings are garments that squeeze and stimulate blood circulation in the calves and feet. These types of socks and stockings fit snugly around your body and have some elasticity built into their fabric so they hold their shape.
There are three main types of compression stockings.
gradient compression socks
Gradient compression socks promote blood circulation by putting pressure on the ankle. As the socks move up your leg, they become less tight. Gradient compression stockings usually require a prescription and professional fitting. They are generally designed to meet certain medical standards for flexibility, strength, and length.
non-medical support socks
Non-medical support socks are designed to be more flexible than graduated compression socks. They do not require a prescription and are readily available in stores and online. Non-medical support stockings are often used to treat tired legs and improve circulation.
Anti-embolic stockings are designed to prevent a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The level of compression these socks provide can vary. Generally, anti-embolic stockings are made for people with limited mobility. Similar to gradient compression socks, these stockings require a prescription to buy.
The Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks While Flying
When you're on a long flight (5 hours or more), chances are you won't be moving around during that time. When you're squeezed into a tight space and can't move around, the circulation between your heart and calves slows down.
The calf muscles are responsible for transporting blood from the lower body to the heart through the circulatory system. When these muscles aren't contracting, circulation doesn't work as efficiently. You may experience swelling, tingling and discomfort. Reduced circulation also puts you at higher risk for pulmonary embolism and blood clots.
If you do not have a prescription for compression stockings, non-medical support stockings are generally recommended for travel. These types of compression stockings can be easily purchased online or from drugstores. You can choose the compression level according to the most comfortable way.
when to put it on
To fly in compression socks, you may need to practice wearing them a few times before flying. Getting them to stand up, especially in the tight spaces of an airplane, can take some getting used to. Probably the best time to put them on is before boarding, when you are waiting at the gate.
how long to wear
You can wear compression socks for extended periods of time, so you can also wear them on your feet at home before starting your trip to the airport. However, discomfort and possible side effects may occur after several hours of continuous use. See the section below for possible side effects.
How to avoid blood clots while flying
Compression stockings aren't the only option for avoiding blood clots when traveling. Other tips include:
Wear loose, breathable clothing to promote healthy blood circulation.
Store all your belongings in the overhead compartment to maximize legroom in flight.
Drink plenty of water before and during your flight.
Avoid high-sodium and high-salt foods at the airport and during flights.
If you're allowed to, on long flights, stand up and walk the length of the plane every hour or so.
Potential side effects of wearing compression stockings while flying
Compression stockings do have some side effects. Even if you're used to wearing compression socks at home, dry air, cramped conditions, and the unpredictability of air travel can make side effects more likely.
Possible side effects of wearing compression stockings while flying include:
- circulatory disorder
- burn or bruise
- Bruised and broken skin
Remember that side effects are less likely to occur when your compression socks are fitted correctly. Misuse and overuse of compression stockings can increase your chances of experiencing uncomfortable symptomsTrusted Source .
Who should and should not wear compression socks
Your doctor may recommend that you wear compression stockings while traveling if you:
chronic venous insufficiency
- history of thrombosis
- Recent varicose vein surgery
- Conditions that make you more likely to get DVT, such as cancer
Even if you don't have any of the above, if you're prone to swelling and poor circulation on air travel, compression socks can make your flight more comfortable.
Who shouldn't wear compression socks
Compression socks are not recommended if your skin is prone to chafing or if your skin is damaged and prone to chafing or chafing. They can cause damage to your skin, and if not handled properly, abrasions or sores from compression stockings can even lead to infection.
If you're not sure if compression stockings are right for you, talk to your doctor before going on a long trip.
Are compression socks useful for long drives?
Compression stockings may also help when you travel by car. Long-distance car travel can restrict your legs, inhibit circulation, and cause the same blood pooling and swelling symptoms as long-distance flights.
This is especially true if you're a passenger in a car, because at least the act of driving stimulates calf movement. If you travel a lot by car, consider packing some compression socks for your next off-road ride.
when to see a doctor
If you suspect you have a blood clot or DVT, you should see your doctor, whether or not you have a major trip.
Signs and symptoms that should prompt immediate medical attention include:
swelling in one or both legs
- Persistent leg cramps that you can't get rid of
- visible veins in the legs that are red or swollen to the touch
- Sudden redness or skin discoloration on the legs
Do not ignore or try to self-treat the symptoms of DVT. This condition can be life-threatening if not addressed by a medical professional.
Compression stockings are a simple treatment that can make long flights and car trips more comfortable. If you have a history of blood clots or venous insufficiency, compression stockings can promote healthy circulation and give you peace of mind while flying.
If you already wear over-the-counter, non-medical-grade compression stockings regularly, you may want to consider upgrading to a prescription pair through your doctor.
Never ignore or try to self-treat the symptoms of DVT. This condition can be life-threatening and should always be addressed by a medical professional.