Flying on two feet: airline travel foot health

One of the great joys of living in our part of Ontario are the regular flights from London International Airport to sunnier climes such as the Dominican Republic, Florida and Cuba!

There’s no doubt that airline travel is a bit of a bargain at the moment, but there is a payoff – less legroom. As airlines pack more passengers in, and provide seat back entertainment systems, there is less and less room (or incentive) to move about during a flight.

This can have serious consequences in the form of DVT (deep vein thrombosis). If you sit in the same position for an extended length of time, such as a long-haul flight, you are more at risk of DVT. This occurs when blood flows too slowly through your veins, forming clots that block veins, usually in your legs. (Around 15% of the population suffers from this in everyday life too, where it’s known as chronic venous insufficiency.)

Assessing your risk of DVT

You have a higher risk factor for DVT on a long-haul flight (8 hours or more) if you fall into certain group such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Cancer patients
  • Stroke patients
  • Heart disease patient
  • Have recently had surgery in the pelvic region or in your legs
  • The obese
  • Those taking HRT

Reduce your risk – wear special socks!

There are simple and easy ways to significantly reduce your risk of DVT. One of the most effective is to wear compression stockings, also called flight socks. These tight-fitting socks apply gentle and even pressure to your lower legs and ankles and help your blood flow. Studies have show that wearing compression stockings on flights longer than four hours significantly reduces the risk of DVT and prevents swollen legs (oedema).

Compression stockings and flight socks

Commercially sold flight socks have varying pressure ratings, and it’s confusing to know which class of compression stocking product you require. At Hunt Footcare, we fit and dispense Sigvaris compression stockings, a superb product made in Switzerland. Combining textile intelligence with a unique sizing system, these compression stockings offer high levels of effectiveness and comfort way above any ‘off the shelf’ flight sock products.

We carefully measure your legs to ensure the best fit, before selecting the right Sigvaris product for you. Unlike commercial flight socks that usually come in a choice of dull beige or unflattering black, Sigvaris compression stockings come in a range of textures and colours. This makes them suitable for the business traveller as well as leisure travellers, so the only person who will know you are wearing compression socks on your flight is – you!

Call us for your personal compression stocking fitting at least a week before your flight, and help protect yourself from DVT.

Other ways to reduce your DVT risk on longer journeys

DVT is not just a risk on flights – you should try to reduce your risk on long train or car journeys too. Your best defense against DVT is movement, so get up and walk around as often as you can. Drink plenty of water so you are properly hydrated, and avoid alcohol. Stow your luggage overhead or check your luggage, so you have as much wriggle room around your feet as possible.

Simple exercises, such as rolling your ankles around in circles, and raising your heels while keeping your toes on the ground, will help your circulation. You can also take a tennis ball or golf ball, and roll this around on the soles of your feet, which again help stimulate circulation.

To book your flight sock fitting, or to discuss any foot-related issues, call us:

  • London Foot Specialists (519) 432 3636
  • Ingersoll Foot & Ankle Clinic (519) 485-1750
  • Stratford Foot & Ankle Clinic (519) 271-8834
Published On: December 12, 2014