The trouble with travel is it can give you a pain in the you-know-what. But travel can also cause pain in the legs, ankles and knees.
The complaint we hear most from people who travel is that their feet and ankles swell. This happens because sitting for too long can slow down circulation, and fluids begin to pool in the lowest parts of the body. (This type of swelling is also known as edema.)
Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy the journey as much as the destination?
With a few tips and tricks, you can move closer to that comfortable ideal.
Plan Your Moves
The best way you can prevent or lessen travel discomfort caused by swelling is by moving as much as possible to increase circulation. Leg movement helps to prevent and minimize pooling through contraction of the muscles against the blood vessels, which helps blood to return to the heart more efficiently.
We know it’s not always easy to move. Sometimes you’re the driver and you want to make good time. Sometimes you’re stuck in an airplane window seat and it may feel like too much trouble. Maybe you already have a lower body condition that makes it harder.
Still, if possible, commit to getting up and walking around every hour or so. In between walks, you can do some leg exercises from your seat:
- Press the balls of your feet into the floor as hard as you can for several seconds, then release.
- Bend and stretch your legs at the knees, then at the ankles.
- Do a few seated leg lifts – it’s fine to do them with bent knees.
- Rotate your feet from the ankles. After you do several repetitions clockwise, switch direction.
Do each of the exercises slowly, consciously and thoroughly. Skip any that don’t feel good or that seem like a bad idea in view of any medical conditions you have.
You might also consider a portable foot cycle or pedaler to provide some resistance for sit-in-place exercising.
Bring a Hug with You
We know that you can’t always move the way you need or want to because of health or other circumstances, but it is possible to mimic the muscle action with compression of the lower limbs. There are products that can help:
- Compression leg massagers.
- Graduated compression hosiery.
Compression hosiery is a squeeze that spans the circumference of your foot, ankle, leg or all three. Graduated compression has a firm grip at the bottom of the garment or gadget that loosens on the way to the top.
The best part of hosiery is there are scads of choices: socks, stockings, sleeves and panty hose.
These products are like hugs of comfort you give to yourself—but be good to yourself also by checking with your doctor first if you are not sure compression is the right choice for your condition.
Related posts and products:
FootSmart.com: Lightweight travel walkers by Propet.