Question: ‘Because flight travel is an essential part of my job, I often suffer from unsightly, swollen legs after flying. Apart from the less-than-flattering look of bulging legs, ankles and feet, what also concerns me are the blood clots that can arise over a long flight. Is there anything I can do, besides the typical wiggle-your-feet, in-flight exercises, to prevent both swollen legs after flying and blood clots?’
Answer: ‘Swollen legs, ankles and feet are very common during flying. This is often related to sitting still.’ says Dr. John Scurr, FRCS, a consultant surgeon for vascular and general surgery and head of the Dr. John Scurr Medical Practice. Normally when you walk, the blood is pumped from your legs to the heart, which helps to reduce the look of swollen legs.
Occasionally, sitting for long periods of time, whether flying or riding in a car or train, can cause blood clots that are usually associated with one swollen leg. This is known as traveller’s thrombosis. Some people are more prone to developing blood clots during travel (older people, people with a history of blood clots, people with a serious underlying illness, etc.). If in doubt, see your GP. Most of the time, a blood clot will normally dissolve. If it doesn’t, the clot may grow, causing swelling and pain in the leg. And if left untreated, it can cause serious problems.
‘To prevent swollen legs after flying and blood clots, you could try fitted class II compression socks, Zinopin, a travel food supplement that reduces clots and swelling, or the Airogym exerciser, £11.99.’ recommends Dr. John Scurr. Travel-friendly and inflatable, the Airogym (photo: left and above) helps to boost the blood flow in the legs through resistance-based exercise (pressing down on the footpad for five minutes per hour). Thus, it reduces the appearance of post-flying swollen legs and the risk of blood clots from traveller’s thrombosis
Tip: Ever noticed how swollen your legs look after you get up from your desk? Yes, sitting at your desk for long periods of time can affect you physically, as well as mentally. Pump away swollen calves and reduce the risk of blood clots with the Airogym. After all, it was developed by an ex-British Airways long-haul captain to prevent e-thrombosis, which is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), blood settling in the deep veins in the legs’ centre, resulting from excessive sitting.
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By: John Scurr, FRCS, consultant surgeon for vascular and general surgery and head of the Dr. John Scurr Medical Practice.
Edited by: Christina Caicedo