5 exercises to prevent swollen feet when flying

IIf you’ve ever noticed that your feet look and feel unusually swollen when you’re flying, you’re not alone. Swollen feet on airplanes are fairly common, and according to Nelya Lobkova, DPM, New York-based podiatrist and founder of Step Up Footcare, it’s caused by your legs being bent over long periods of time without move. “The muscles in our legs don’t work, and the veins in our lower body need to work harder to bring blood back to the heart,” she explains. “When blood pools in the veins, it causes swelling – literally fluid build up – in the legs.”

Thankfully, there’s an easy solution to this: leg exercises, which help pump blood back to the heart, thus reducing leg swelling. Below, Dr. Lobkova shares five simple leg exercises you can do during your next flight, especially in the mid- and late-end, which is when she notices most of the swelling. tends to happen.

1. Draw the alphabet

“This exercise activates the muscles and tendons in the legs,” says Dr. Lobkova. “When the muscles are activated, they compress the veins and help push the venous blood up toward the heart.” She added that this exercise also helps to move the ankle joint, helping to relieve stiffness.

To do it, extend one leg forward while you’re sitting. Keep your feet hovering above the ground (this requires engaging your quad muscles), then start drawing the alphabet with your big toes. Take breaks if your legs are tired. When you reach Z, repeat with the other leg.

2. Flexibility and points

For this exercise, extend your legs in front while you’re sitting. Then point and bend each foot 12 times. Repeat three sets with 10-second rest intervals. This leg exercise is highly effective because it specifically works the calf muscles. “This is the largest muscle in the leg, and the largest vein in the leg is located deep [inside] “Activating the calf muscles has the strongest effect to compress the leg veins and help pump blood back to the heart,” says Dr. Lobkova.

3. Heel Lift Chair

This will also activate your calf muscles, says Dr. Lobkova. Here’s how: While in an airplane, raise and lower your heels off the ground 12 times. Rest for 10 seconds and then repeat the same process three more times.

4. Activate Flexor

You’ll need to take off your socks for this one and go barefoot. Place a piece of paper or pen on the floor in front of you. Then curl your toes to grab the pen or paper and lift it off the ground. Do this move 12 times with each leg. Then repeat three sets with a 10-second rest between sets. “This exercise activates the internal muscles of the foot, which compress the veins along with [as the calves] “Although it is a smaller muscle and will have a smaller effect, it will help pump fluid out of the feet and back to the heart,” says Dr. Lobkova.

5. Going back and forth

Finally, Dr. Lobkova suggests walking up and down the cabin aisles two or three times. “Standing and walking, as well as mild stretching, during flight wake up the muscles around the veins to pump harder and help push blood back to the heart,” she says. In particular, she recommends stretching your calf muscles while you work out. Remember, the calf muscle is the largest muscle in the leg, so stretching it will be most effective in helping to reduce leg swelling when flying.

Wearing compression stockings also helps prevent leg swelling in flight

In addition to upper leg exercises, Dr. Lobkova recommends wearing compression stockings when flying. “Compression stockings are special socks that aim to provide a level of compression down to the lower extremities, measured in mm Hg,” she says. “The higher the Mm Hg, the more compression there is to the legs and feet. The supportive compression prevents edema or swelling in the legs.”

She recommends knee-length compression stockings with Hg levels of 15–29 mm to help prevent swelling. Just make sure you buy ones that measure your calf circumference. With your new compression socks and the above leg exercises, plane leg swelling will be a thing of the past.

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