9 Ways to Avoid Swollen Feet and Ankles When Traveling

Salty snacks, long periods of sitting, and cramped seats are a recipe for swelling of the feet and ankles that can be extremely uncomfortable. In today’s post, Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich, and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen of greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center are sharing expert tips to help you avoid discomfort if you travel this holiday season.

  1. Watch your diet. Avoid salty foods as much as possible on the day before and the day of travel. Salt can cause fluid retention, which can make your feet swell.
  1. Drink plenty of water. Even though it may seem counterintuitive to drink fluids when you’re retaining fluid, drinking more water can help clear excessive sodium out of your system. Drink plenty of water the day before and the day of travel and bring a big bottle of water with you on the plane.
  2. Shift positions in your seat regularly. When you are seated, the position of your legs elevates pressure in the veins of your legs. So, don’t stay seated in one position for too long and shift your seated position regularly.
  1. Don’t sit with your legs crossed. Your circulation slows when you’re sitting for hours, and when you cross your legs, it’s cut off even more. Crossing your legs at the knee can also create a substantial increase in blood pressure for people living with hypertension.
  1. On longer flights, stretch your legs. Try to get up to walk the aisle every hour or so, particularly on flights that are over two hours. Walking to the bathroom or standing can get your blood flowing and help prevent swelling.
  1. Wear compression socks. Your travel outfit should include compression socks that extend up to your knees. Today’s compression socks aren’t boring! Endurance athletes use them during and after racing, so they are available in a variety of patterns and colors.
  1. Wear comfortable footwear. Try to wear slip-on shoes when traveling because they can be easily removed, allowing you to exercise or massage your feet.

(Just remain conscious of your neighbors.)

  1. Work out your feet while sitting. Even if you can’t walk around, you can stretch the muscles in your feet. Point your toes side to side, then up and down to get your feet moving. Focus on flexing the muscles in your calves, legs, and feet to keep them engaged after an extended period of idleness.
  2. Elevate your feet. Keeping your legs elevated can help improve circulation. Whenever possible, try to raise your feet and legs. If there’s no one seated next to you, prop your feet up across the seats.

 If you need more travel suggestions, reach out to the experienced team at Greater Philadelphia’s Your Next Step Foot and Ankle Care Center. Click here to locate contact information for the office nearest you.

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