So why do feet swell when you fly? – I’m afraid this is another of those wonderful age related phenomenon that is not just a hazard of flying as many of you know!
Feet can swell for a number of reasons, excess weight, poor circulation, pregnancy, bone or joint injury, medication related or, as often as in the case of flying, from prolonged sitting in one position.
Swollen legs whilst flying, is very common and should not for the main part be serious. It occurs from inactivity; sitting for long periods with little movement causing the blood to pool in the lower legs and veins and the associated fluid in the blood leaving the veins and entering the soft tissues of the lower legs, feet and ankles’.
So what’s the best way to manage this, to minimise the discomfort, and appearance of feet and legs that you feel you want to hide!
Surprisingly, there are a number of things that can be done to help. Holistic therapies such as acupuncture of the feet, both as a preventive and treatment measure are massively under-rated. It is so quick and easy to administer and excellent too for anyone suffering from lymph- oedema. We have seen patients at our foot clinics that have had their lives turned around after just a few acupuncture treatments, and the results are even more impressive when combined with manipulation of the joints as a holistic, pain free therapy. Patients who have avoided wearing skirts for years due to the swelling have had a new lease of life!
As a foot professional it really is satisfying to see how this can turn around. Therefore, if when flying you are prone to excess swelling, it really is worth considering preventive treatments, a couple of sessions just before you fly will make all the difference. It is also well worth you trying our Margaret Dabbs Hydrating Foot Soak with Emu Oil, as this has excellent anti- inflammatory qualities as well providing relief for tired, swollen throbbing feet.
Swollen feet as a general circulatory issue can be brought on just by wear and tear changes in the joints as we age, giving rise to joint stiffness which will in turn reduce the levels of shock absorbency in the feet and therefore impair circulation. Emu Oil has many benefits, one of which is that it helps to reduce bone and joint inflammation and patients have reported a reduction in stiffness of joints following the use of our Emu Oil products, and indeed many have also used the products on their hands for stiffness and arthritic joints, again as a palliative and holistic measure which will not in any way compromise any medication that may be prescribed by your doctor.
When flying, drink lots of water and try to move around the aeroplane, and where possible get the feet up onto the seat! Air cabin pressure for longer haul flights will also add to the woes of flying, and is another reason for increased dehydration and foot and leg swelling.
Before you fly ensure that toe nails are cut correctly as excess swelling can also cause the nails to be compressed with the increased chance of an ingrown nail. If you have a foot treatment before you fly it will give you the confidence to wear open shoes which will be more comfortable or carry a spare pair of sandals or flip flops in your bag to change into. Ensure also that sock or tight are not to compressing.
Often we are asked about deep vein thrombosis – DVT, especially by paop;e who are more at risk of developing a DVT. Compression socks are advised, but if too tight on the feet, these can give rise to foot issues such as ingrown toe nails, skin trauma and heloma molle (soft corns) between the toes which can be excruciatingly painful. My advice is that if you have to wear compression stockings, snip around 2cms of the toe area with scissors, this will allow the toes a little freedom to breathe and reduce pressure on them.
I hate to say it, but also try to avoid alcohol on the flight as this will cause excess dehydration, affect your circulation further and add to the swelling.
Once away don’t under estimate the benefits of the sea and salt water which has amazing therapeutic benefits. The biggest rise in melanoma in recent years has been that of the feet and lower legs, so don’t forget the very important point of applying sun protection to these areas.
Here are my top tips for flying feet:
- Regular exercise helps to reduce swelling of the legs and feet, so make sure you move around the aircraft every half an hour or so to keep your circulation moving. Avoid crossing of the legs, as this also makes the swelling worse.
- Wear loose fitting clothes, remove shoes and lift legs up to the seat next to you if you can. Use your on-board luggage to rest your feet on, and perform gentle foot exercises to get the blood moving.
- Avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water to ensure you stay hydrated.
Try raising your legs and massaging the feet and ankles with Margaret Dabbs Intensive Hydrating Foot Lotion or Intensive Treatment Foot Oil. The key ingredient in these products is Emu Oil which is a natural anti-inflammatory and will help disperse the fluid build up and the Lemon Myrtle soothes and relaxes. The products come in aeroplane friendly sizes as part of the Discovery Kit, which also includes our Hydrating Foot Soak and Exfoliating Foot Mousse.