How To Prevent Feet Swelling While Flying?  

February 21, 2023

Air travel can be an uncomfortable experience, especially for those prone to swelling of the feet. When seated for several hours in a cramped seat, fluid accumulates in the legs and feet, leading to swelling and discomfort. 

However, you can take steps to prevent feet from swelling while flying. In this article, we will discuss some of the best ways to keep your feet comfortable and healthy during air travel. But first, let us discuss why it happens.

How Can Flying Make Your Feet Swell?

An airplane flight can cause swelling in the ankles and feet, also known as edema, due to several factors. Some of the main ones are:

1.     Changes In Air Pressure:

Airplane cabins have lower pressure than those on the ground. During this decrease in air pressure, your body fluids expand, including the fluid in your feet and ankles. The lower cabin pressure affects your body’s fluid balance, causing swelling.

2.     Lack Of Movement:

Another factor that can cause swelling in your feet and inflammation in the body during a flight is the lack of movement. Sitting for a long time, especially with your feet on the ground, can cause the blood flow to slow down, leading to fluid buildup. This is why long-haul flights usually cause edema.

3.     Travel Habits:

The habits we have on travel days can also cause our feet to swell. Our traveling habits often involve eating at restaurants, snacking, and consuming processed foods high in salt. Our body will retain salt, causing edema again by increasing the amount of fluid.

4.     Tight Clothing And Shoes:

Wearing tight clothing and shoes can also contribute to swelling in your feet during a flight. Dresses that are too tight can restrict blood flow, while shoe fittings that are too tight can cause pressure points that interfere with circulation.

5.     Medical Conditions:

Finally, some medical conditions can make you more prone to swelling in your feet during a flight. It is possible to develop edema if you have conditions such as high blood pressure, heart failure, or venous insufficiency.

Therefore, to prevent feet swelling while flying, it is important to take a few precautions before and during the flight.

Ways To Prevent Feet From Swelling During Air Travel

Now let us explore some of the most effective ways to keep your feet comfortable and healthy during extensive flights.

1.     Wear Compression Socks:

The best way to prevent feet swelling while flying is to wear compression socks. These special socks are designed to put pressure on your legs, which can help improve blood flow and reduce the risk of fluid buildup. Depending on your comfort level, compression socks come in different levels of compression. You should wear compression socks during and after your flight for best results.

2.     Stay Hydrated:

Dehydration is a common cause of foot swelling during air travel. Swelling occurs when your body becomes dehydrated and retains fluid. To prevent this, it is essential to stay hydrated during your flight. Drink plenty of water before and during your flight, and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you further. 

Likewise, avoid consuming too much sugar during your flight. The process of sugar inflammation occurs when we consume too much sugar without digesting it properly. So try to avoid it during long hauls.

3.     Get Up And Move Around:

Sitting for long periods can put pressure on your legs, leading to swelling. In order to avoid this, it is essential to get up and move around regularly during your flight. Get up every hour or so to walk around the cabin or do some simple exercises. This can help improve blood flow and prevent fluid buildup in your legs and feet.

4.     Elevate Your Feet:

Elevating your feet can help reduce swelling and improve blood flow. If possible, try to raise your feet above the level of your heart during the flight. You can do this by putting your feet up on a footrest or using a pillow to prop them up. If you do not have access to a footrest, you can also try to raise your feet by placing your carry-on luggage under the seat in front of you.

5.     Keep Your Clothes Loose:

Wearing tight clothing, such as tight jeans or leggings, can restrict blood flow and make swelling worse. To prevent this, wear loose, comfortable clothing during your flight. This will allow your legs and feet to move freely and help improve blood flow.

6.     Massage Your Feet:

Massaging your feet can help improve blood flow and reduce swelling. You can do this yourself by using your hands to rub your feet and legs gently. You can also use a tennis ball or a foot roller to massage your feet while sitting in your seat.

7.     Use Ice Packs:

If you notice swelling in your feet during your flight, you can use ice packs to help reduce the swelling. Ask the flight attendant for some ice, or bring your own ice pack from home. You should place the ice pack on your feet for 10-15 minutes after wrapping it in a towel.

The Way Forward

The swelling of the feet during air travel can be uncomfortable and even painful. It is possible to prevent swelling during your flight and keep your feet healthy and comfortable by following a few simple steps. Follow these tips for a stress-free journey without swollen feet.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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