Do your ankles swell when you fly? Look, traveling is fun and often necessary, but it can do a number on your circulation. There are all kinds of tips from stretching and walking around every hour to doing deep leg bends and hydrating while in flight and before. The truth is while all of those tips sound easy, walking around or doing squats in the airplane aisle isn’t convenient to you or anyone else on the plane. And hydrating can get expensive quickly in airports!
While movement and water are highly recommended, the truth is that traveling takes a toll on your body. Following is what you can expect and what measures you can take to counteract the damage.
How airplane travel affects your body
Your body gets stressed out long before you get on the plane. Commutes to the airport, arriving early, long slow-moving lines, and worrying about whether or not your luggage will arrive mess with your mind. Once you are on the plane, you’re crammed into spaces with limited leg room while being shoulder to shoulder with strangers. Your leg space is often at the mercy of the traveler directly in front of you.
Dehydration happens quickly on planes. This is partially due to the high altitude and the air that is pulled from outside and circulated throughout the cabin. There is little to no moisture at high altitude which means the air you are breathing in is dry. Those tiny complimentary cups of soda also add to the dehydration, not to mention the $3 to $5 price tag on bottled water.
Circulation is affected during travel due to a lack of leg room and mobility. When you sit still for long periods of time, your blood can begin to pool in your legs. Gravity works against you and your veins have a difficult time pushing the blood back up towards your heart.
Bloating is caused by the changes in the cabin’s air pressure. The outside pressure affects the inside of your stomach and intestines, leaving you feeling bloated and gassy.
Our bodies and minds go through a great deal during air travel. It’s important to think ahead! Prevention, after all, is the best medicine. Keep reading for steps you can take to make your flight more pleasant.
How to prepare for a healthy travel experience
In the same way you prepare for your daily workout or a long shift at work, you can take specific actions to make your travel experience healthier and more comfortable. For those traveling for marathon races, it’s important to make sure you don’t lose the progress you have been working so hard to gain before you even arrive at the starting line.
Hydrate before you get on the plane. Make sure you aren’t already dehydrated before you travel by drinking plenty of water the days leading up to the flight. Avoid caffeine before and during your flight. If you are prone to dehydration, don’t consume alcoholic beverages for a few days before flying. If you aren’t wanting to purchase the pricey bottled water in the airport pack an empty refillable water bottle to take with you through security. Airports have begun to install water-filling stations, making it easier to stay hydrated.
Avoid consuming salt and grease. Salt will add to the dehydration and the bloating, another reason to avoid the free sodas from the drink tray and opt for water instead. Your body will already feel pressure from the air cabin changes leaving you feeling bloated. Don’t add to the problem with foods that will make you feel even gassier. Skip the greasy burger at the airport restaurant and opt for a healthier option.
Stretch before you get on the plane. Move around in the airport, don’t just sit and wait. Instead, keep your muscles warm while you can. Once you are seated, if you are unable to get up and move around the cabin, there are stretches you can do while seated. Pick your feet up off the ground and stretch and point your toes. Rotate your ankles in both directions and don’t cross them while sitting. Here are a few more stretches from GQ to keep you loose and pain-free on your next flight. Look for opportunities to walk around the cabin. Yes, it’s inconvenient but it will help. Take a stroll to the in-flight bathroom to stretch.
Wear proper traveling attire to help with circulation. Loose-fitting clothing and graduated compression stockings will help keep the blood flowing in the proper direction and may help prevent pooling around the ankles.
How to pick the right compression sock
Compression socks provide graduated compression. This means they are tightest around the feet and lower legs since these are usually the most affected areas when it comes to swelling. Compression then gradually grows lighter as it moves up the legs, pushing the blood flow back towards the heart.
There are varying degrees of compression. Too little is ineffective and too much might constrict your blood valves doing more harm than good. Crazy Compression socks and sleeves have a 15-20mmhg TRUE graduated compression, perfect for long periods of sitting, standing, or running. Medical grade compression socks have a higher graduated compression. Our socks should not replace prescribed medical compression socks.
Calf sleeves are different than compression socks and are not meant to be worn for long periods of travel. When choosing your compression socks, be sure to choose the correct degree of compression, the long socks (not the running socks or calf sleeves), as well as the right size. The better the fit the more comfortable.
And of course, find the sock that matches your personality. Flights can be long and dull, add some flare and a conversation piece to engage your seatmate. Be sure to check out our new prints, and for those needing an extra level of arch support, check out the Crazy Cushion with Silver Collection
May you have safe travels with ample leg space and kind seatmates!