Apply these 14 Proven Techniques To Prevent Swollen Ankles During A Flight and Remedies After!
Aaaarrrrg OMG I got Cankles…aka swollen ankles during a flight and in some cases after! I had heard about it, I have seen people with them, I had never experienced it. Despite the numerous trips we make annually! And usually at least 2 of them are always long haul over 14+ hours each way!
But, come to think about it; Long check-in queues, more queues through security, then hours of inactivity in-flight. Then usually a mad dash for your next flight in transit! It can be a stressful time for your poor feet/legs and could lead to swollen ankles during a flight or thereafter! Yet some women do all this in 6 inch heels and look the beesnees doing it, woot!
The thing is I had never actually had the luxury of having a proper lie down on a flight. And I must say I loved it. On our recent trip to Punta Cana Dominican Republic we flew Virgin Atlantic (which we highly recommend.) Paul and I got lots of space to stretch out and lie down for the 8.5 hr flight from Manchester International Airport to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport! This was a real treat for our tired and sleep deprived bodies trust me. But it obviously wasn’t great for my feet.
The heavy legs did go down a lil on vacation but not completely and they felt a wee bit uncomfortable. I couldn’t wear one pair of flats (too tight!)
The thing is I also kept my feet super busy. Dancing till the wee hours in caves… (Long story), hitting the gym at least 3 times, swimming, beach zumba, walking in the sand…Hey if you live by the beach and want to tone up those calf muscles, walk or jog in the sand daily for at least 30 mins. And you will also have the smoothest foot soles!
So let’s just say I didn’t give my feet a moment of rest till late most nights…no wonder they stayed swollen!
During most long haul flights, I usually keep active, walk around, flex my feet, swing around and keep the blood circulation going! I guess I did more sleeping this time so got swollen ankles, which according to Mayo Clinic, are among other things, predominantly caused by inactivity during a flight.
“The position of your legs when you are seated also increases pressure in your leg veins. This contributes to foot swelling by causing fluid to leave the blood and move into the surrounding soft tissues.”
I called my GP on our return to ensure there wasn’t anything more to it. And this is what I asked:
What can I do to reduce my puffy swollen ankles after flying?
My GP has been our family GP for years so she kind of knows me. She asked me a few more questions and said she wasn’t worried much unless it carries on for days after I did what she advises! This is what she had to say, Lol!
You should have known better Jules. Remember with constant lack of mobility or activity you could have got swollen ankles during a flight, on a long road trip; be it a bus, train, boat, or your own car! Since you spend hours on your butt working at home, it could have happened there too (It didn’t thank goodness.) Sitting for long periods at a time, and not moving about may cramp your legs, encourage poor circulation, causing blood and fluid to build up in your legs and ankles. I am not surprised you got swollen ankles during a flight, although it’s a wee bit surprising considering you exercise 5 days a week! She also ticked off a few more symptoms I should check for: pain (this can be serious fortunately I didn’t have any), stiffness, varicose veins eiiik.
So below is her professional advice to me (really reinforcing what I mostly knew and practice). I am sharing with y’all world travellers: to avoid and/or relieve foot swelling during air travel and afterwards.
HOW TO PREVENT SWOLLEN ANKLES DURING A FLIGHT!
BEFORE YOUR NEXT FLIGHT OR TRIP: at least 48-72 hrs that’s 2-3 days before and during your flight, take preventative measures. Cut your sodium or salt intake. That means less salt in your food, and drink a whole lot more water. Avoid that tomato juice on the plane, and probably it would be a good idea to order a low-sodium meal.
1. Take a short walk up and down the aisle every hour or so – I obviously didn’t! You should do this at least twice during a flight. And you have a good excuse…Going to the toilet or going for some more water at the food station. Try going for the toilet furthest from you. This will help keep away swollen ankles during a flight!
2. Wear loose-fitting clothing & flat shoes – which I did. Loose fitting clothes do not restrict blood circulation and they don’t have to be sacks or unfashionable…! After the “Selfie outfit” and security, I always head for the bathroom and change to loose flowy usually warm outfit, flat slip-on shoes and my flight pressure socks. This allows me movement, easy to adjust when using the little cubby-holes airlines call toilets. And when I get off the flight, I move pretty fast, minus the flight socks lol!!
3. Hydration and more hydration. Drink plenty of water helps prevent dehydration – I had a couple of wines and a bottle of water. 🙂 Of course it also encourages blood circulation and that much needed toilet break & walk lol!
4. Flex and extend your ankles and knees frequently to prevent swollen ankles during a flight – I only did so when I woke up, just before landing! This is what I should have done to encourage blood flow. Try rotating your ankles one way, and then the other, do a heel-to-toe ‘seesaw,’ raise your toes off the ground and spread them. Hold this for a few seconds, then relax your toes, lower them again and clench them for a few seconds. Do butt clutches and release. Rotate your head one way and another. Continue this routine at least ten times. Do every hour and you won’t have swollen ankles or cankles as I call them! 🙁
5. Change your seating position as much as possible, avoid crossing your legs – Was sleeping Stretched out! I must say I crouched a few times and this is a no-no. So watch your positions coz crouching and curling up are as bad as wearing tight fitting clothes for a flight! These restrict blood circulation and that could cause swollen ankles during a flight!
6. Avoid alcohol and sedatives, – could cause drowsiness (in my case I didn’t need any, I had “Bags of space” so I slept.) People in Business & 1st class do the same…how the heck do they prevent swollen ankles during a flight?) They drink lots of water maybe. 🙂
7. Keep your body cool– (I was pretty cosy, wrapped up in 3 blankets plus my warm coat, I am from UK for goodness sake.) 🙂 Sometimes you may notice your ring feels tighter and your shoes after intense exercise or on hotter summer days, implying a slight swelling! In the same way, when on a flight, if you over wrap up like I did, your veins dilate due to the heat. This makes your veins less efficient at drawing blood from surrounding tissues, allowing blood and other fluid to gather in and causing heavy legs! So why not…
8. Buy a Pair of Compression Socks – I have a cheap pair…that should teach me! These are necessary for those prone to Swollen ankles and legs during/after a flight. Buy Travel Socks or you could get them on prescription. Lots of sexy colours about. I found that compression travel knee-highs go for approx. $12-25.00. Should work fine for your subsequent flights. Grab a pair on amazon e-store here. Incorporate with drinking lots of water and doing the exercises on the back of most flight magazines and you will effectively prevent swollen ankles during a flight. To Grab yourself a pair or recommended travel socks click on Image below:
Here is some encouragement, foot swelling during a flight is mostly harmless and doesn’t last! Hurrah and it didn’t thank goodness! For some it could be a sign of or lead to more dire health problems like blood clots, DVT etc….!
Definitely check with your doctor if you do get swollen ankles during a flight however long or short!
Here is How to Get rid of Foot Swelling AFTER your Flight:
Dip your Feet in cold water – I was advised to get a basin full of cold water, the colder the better (some people use Ice packs brr.) And wash my feet thoroughly 24-72 hrs after the flight. Apparently it strengthens the veins and encourages them to contract, reducing the foot swelling. Do this just before bedtime and you will enjoy a restful discomfort free sleep, I did! 🙂
Dry skin brushing – use a firm natural bristle brush before you shower. And during the shower, alternate hot and cold water to the affected area. This is apparently great for circulation and lymph drainage.
Light exercise e.g. a walk – Walking, light exercise, stretches etc. will stimulate blood flow and circulation, helping disperse any fluid retention! Stretching also strengthen your veins; we don’t want those varicose veins do we! So why not exercise regularly even if it’s just a long walk for long-term prevention of foot swelling and fluid retention!
Have a massage – I did have a heavenly massage at the Dreams La Romana Spa and Paul gave me a couple more when we returned to UK, hmmm bliss! 🙂 This is active recovery against fluid build-up esp. when done with your feet elevated. Make sure if you have your partner, friend or family member doing it, that they rub your feet hard, slowly working upwards from your ankles and legs.
Keep your feet up/elevated for a while – Do this when you go to bed or while sat down relaxed or doing whatever. Sit or lie down with your feet elevated above the level of your heart. This position encourages blood to flow away from your legs/feet towards your heart, improving circulation and reducing the foot swelling plus any pain or discomfort.
Have you ever got swollen ankles during a flight or after? How did you treat them or what did your doctor advise? Like and share if you got value and drop a comment below with your experiences. We do the research, you Let us inspire you, why not start by subscribing to our blog here and let us know your travel needs.
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