Being trapped in a tiny airplane seat in an enclosed area without much room to move can lead to swollen feet. The same can be said for long car rides. The easiest way to prevent swollen feet during travel, is to move around to get your blood flowing. When you’re sitting, the muscles that help pump fluid out of your legs are not active. This can lead to blood pooling in your feet and uncomfortable swelling. The low cabin pressure, combined with dry air circulating in a plane, can also slow blood circulation. This is because when you are dehydrated, your blood gets a bit thicker and circulation is slowed. Poor circulation can allow dangerous blood clots to form in the legs, which can travel to the lungs or brain, causing very serious health complications.
When traveling, it is important to keep normal blood flow. Below is a list of some tips to promote blood circulation to your feet during holiday travel.
Watch your diet. Taking precautions to avoid salt the day of and before travel will help maintain normal fluid levels. Salt can cause you to retain fluid, which can make your feet swell even more.
Drink water. Drink plenty of water the day before and day of your trip. Drinking water will help you prevent dehydration and encourage you to walk to the bathroom.
Walk around. When flying, get up several times during the flight to get your blood flowing. This is especially important on flights over two hours. While walking around is not encouraged in a car, take an extra five minutes to walk around the gas station or rest stop.
Leave plenty of room for your feet. If your feet are fighting for space with bags, they will be more restricted and may be placed into positions that cut off the blood supply. Asking for an aisle seat on a plane, will make it easier for you to move around and give more room.
Exercise your legs. When you can’t get up and walk around, you can still use the muscles in your feet. Point your toes up and down and side to side to get your feet moving. Also, try spreading your toes or using them to pick an item off the ground.
Don’t cross your feet. Your circulation is already slow when you are sitting for hours; don’t make the mistake of cutting it off even more by crossing your legs.
Wear proper footwear. Compression socks or hose will help bring blood back to your heart. Slip-on shoes are great because they can be easily removed and allow you to massage or exercise your feet.