It's been a long flight. You feel the plane come to a complete stop, but you are waiting for the door to open. After sitting for so long, you desperately want to get up. Stretching your leg can be painful.
If you can understand this, then you need to learn some important things about travel. Leg discomfort is not an inevitable price of flying. This is a real potential health complication problem, and it's largely preventable. All you need is a good pair of compression socks.
How flying hurts my legs and feet
It all comes down to gravity. Your body has to do a lot to overcome gravity and pump blood from the soles of your feet back to your heart and lungs. When you sit for long periods of time, you are fighting gravity every minute of your flight.
When you're not trapped in an airplane seat, your body usually fights gravity through movement. Walking and stretching contract the muscles, and energy from the muscles is used to help blood flow up the veins in the legs. That's why we squirm after sitting for a while, and that's why you always want to get up and move after you've been sitting for a long time.
So air travel keeps you from moving in a normal way, and gravity keeps blood in your feet. It's clear how this can lead to swelling and discomfort, but that's not all. Staying still for hours at a time also increases the risk of blood clots.
When your blood pools, it's harder for your body to process and break down clots. This is why prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing a significant blood clot, which in the worst case can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT). While you don't have to worry about taking you to the hospital on your next flight, it's certainly a good thing to know about the risks of blood clots and how to prevent them. For example, flying during pregnancy can seriously increase these risks.
Why wear compression socks? What exactly do compression socks do?
Here are just some of the benefits:
- support veins
- Helps blood not pool in the legs, preventing deep vein thrombosis
Even if you don't experience any discomfort while traveling or exercising, compression stockings help to apply gentle pressure to your legs and ankles, which promotes blood flow from your lower extremities to your heart. They are good for you and may even improve athletic performance.
Activities you might want to consider wearing compression stockings include: hiking, traveling, running/fitness, days standing for hours, and any time you want to show more love to your feet and legs.
Why wear compression socks when flying?
It may seem crazy that wearing the right socks can make a big difference, but it's true. How compression socks work is simple. They squeeze your leg gently and securely. This squeeze makes it difficult for the blood to pool. The pressure exerted by the socks helps the blood move upwards, and they are a good substitute for free movement.
When your blood isn't pooling, it's easier for your body to maintain healthy circulation. Obviously, it will reduce swelling and discomfort from swelling. It also reduces your risk of developing blood clots and dealing with these complications. What's more, graduated compression socks can improve blood circulation across the board. While they can reduce discomfort, they can also relieve some of the fatigue you may experience on long trips. All these benefits of compression socks make them a travel staple for future flights!
Compression socks aren't magic, but they have many benefits for flyers. Even if you don't go out into the sky very often, any time spent on a plane will be more enjoyable as long as you take care of your legs and feet. Here are a few things to keep in mind about compression socks:
Flying is difficult for your legs and feet and increases the risk of blood clots.
Compression stockings prevent swelling and improve circulation.
Using compression socks on long plane trips will improve comfort and reduce fatigue.
You should especially consider flying in compression stockings during pregnancy.
Anyone who travels frequently knows that it is not uncommon to experience leg swelling during or after a long flight. This swelling happens because there isn't enough room to move your legs on a plane, and when you can't move your legs, it's hard for your veins to circulate blood back to your heart. Many people are able to greatly reduce leg swelling after a flight by wearing compression stockings.
But how do compression socks help? Let's start by talking about what's causing your leg to swell.
When you keep your feet on the floor for a long time, blood starts to build up in your legs. We mentioned above that inactivity can make your legs swell, but the reason they swell is that the blood that's supposed to return to the heart stays where it is. In more severe cases, especially in people with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), the blood may even start to back up. The buildup of fluid is responsible for swelling, blood clots, and, in rare cases, pulmonary embolism. So, if we want to combat the swelling that occurs on long flights, we need to find a way to promote better blood circulation from the legs to the heart.
Did you know that not only your leg veins, but also your calf muscles are responsible for pumping blood back to your heart? Compression stockings apply gentle pressure to your ankles and stimulate calf muscle contractions to encourage your blood to move in the right direction: up. After all, fluid retention gets worse when your calf muscles can't contract, which can make you more prone to blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you're already at higher risk because of your age, weight, pregnancy, or a cancer diagnosis, sitting in a confined space with little movement for five hours or more can cause swelling and tingling, and leave you More susceptible to pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is a deadly disease that occurs when a blood clot travels from another part of your body (usually a leg) to your lungs. By wearing compression stockings that promote better blood circulation between your legs and your heart, you can address swelling (and more serious problems) at the source.
So, are compression socks right for everyone on long flights? If not, who should avoid wearing them?
If you are not sure whether you should wear compression stockings during a flight, we recommend that you consult your doctor before purchasing or wearing a pair. Your doctor may tell you that wearing compression stockings is not a good idea for you, especially if you have insufficient blood supply to your arteries, some kind of nerve damage, or even diabetes. On the other hand, people with other medical conditions can benefit greatly from compression stockings, such as venous insufficiency, a history of blood clots, and conditions that make them more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
No two pairs of compression stockings are the same. Even if your doctor allows you to wear compression socks, be sure to discuss the different types of socks and compressions you can use. Some levels of compression require a prescription, while others are available over the counter and for people with different medical conditions or will have different needs.
If you've been approved by your doctor to wear compression stockings, here are some tips and tricks on how and when to put them on before your next long-haul flight.
Putting on compression stockings can be a little tricky, especially if you've never worn them before, so practice at home a few times before flying to make sure you know exactly what you need to do when the time comes. One of the easiest ways to put them on is to turn them inside out until only the toes are on the right side - then, with the toes inside, gently roll the rest of the sock up and over the foot, ankle and On the calf. If wearing socks hurts, you probably bought the wrong size, so take them off (if possible) instead of forcing yourself to wear them.
Wondering when you should put on compression socks before flying? Don't wait until you're on a plane to wear them. There's not much room to move around, and trying to put them on a plane can be awkward and disastrous if you're not used to wearing them. Most people are safe to wear compression socks for extended periods of time, so don't worry about wearing them for too long. While you can put them on even before you set off for the airport, we recommend waiting at the gate for boarding. That way, you'll still have plenty of room and time to get them right, but you're also less likely to experience some of the discomfort that compression stockings can cause if they're not worn properly.
When compression stockings are worn for too long or are the wrong size, some uncomfortable side effects can occur, including poor circulation in the legs, chafing, and bruising. We recommend limiting them to 16 hours, especially if this is your first time using them, but keep in mind that other factors can affect how your skin reacts to them, such as air drying and the discomfort involved in air travel. certainty.
Here are some other ways to prevent swelling on your next long-haul flight:
- Walk around the plane every hour.
- Bend your ankles from your seat every 30 minutes.
- Keep your feet elevated for as long as possible.
- Walk 30 minutes before takeoff.
- Wear loose clothing.
- Change positions in the seat, but try to avoid crossing your legs.
- Avoid drinking alcohol.