Preventing Swollen Feet during Air Travel

Air travel involves being trapped in a small seat within an enclosed area with no room to stretch. Due to this, one may get swollen feet. However, there are several ways to prevent your feet from swelling by ensuring there is enough blood flowing to and from your feet.

While sitting, the muscles used for pumping fluid from the legs are inactive. Due to this, blood starts to pool inside the feet, causing swelling.

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Steps for preventing swollen feet:

When you are traveling, it is extremely important that you take the steps to get the blood flowing. Here are a few tips that help promote foot health.

1. Keep a check on your diet. On the day of travel and a day before that, make sure you avoid salt. Salt causes fluid retention, making your feet swell.

2. Drink a lot of water. Make sure you drink a lot of water a day before the trip to avoid dehydration. Keep a water bottle during the entire journey, and refill as needed for hydration. Apart from keeping you hydrated, it will also ensure you get up and walk to the toilet when nature calls.

3. Get up. Walk around numerous times when in the flight. Walk up and down the passageways, for getting your blood flowing. Make sure you do this many time each hour for preventing any swelling in the legs and feet. Stand and move around particularly if your flight is over two hours long.

4. Keep all the bags overhead. In case you have less foot space, keep your carry-on bags inside the overhead bin. This will ensure your legs are not cramped into difficult positions, cutting off the supply of blood.

5. Book an aisle seat. If possible, get an aisle seat. It is a lot easier to get up and walk, with more room to stretch your feet every once in a while. Emergency row and bulkhead seats provide the best room for stretching the legs.

6. Massage your feet: take your shoes off and give your feet a rub. Foot massage helps in stimulating blood flow and averting swelling.

7. Foot exercises. Even at times when you can't walk around or get up, you can move the foot muscles. Get your feet moving by pointing your toes from side to side, up and down. In case you have swollen feet already, exercising them can help correct the blood flow.

8. Avoid crossing your legs. The blood circulation is already sluggish when you stay seated for hours, so make sure you do not end up cutting it off by keeping your legs crossed.

9. Keep the feet elevated. Make sure you keep the feet lifted up for stimulating circulation. If you have no one sitting close to you, stretch and prop the feet up diagonally to the seats. You can also prop your feet at the seat’s foot bar. 

Make sure your body is well prepared for the long plane ride, and avoid sleeping during the entire flight. Exercise is extremely important during long journeys— even while you are sitting cramped up in your seat. If you still face swollen feet after the journey, seek advice from a podiatrist


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