Ready to enjoy some summer time travel? Make sure your trip is not shortened by a serious health concern. Small, cramped seating on an airplane, or sitting in a car for a prolonged period of time, may be more of a problem that just causing discomfort. Inactivity in a confined space can slow circulation and cause legs to swell and become painful. Sitting with bent knees compress the deep vein behind the knee, potentially creating a blood clot to form.
Dry air, decreased oxygen, low cabin pressure, and alcohol consumption in a plane cause dehydration, making blood more concentrated and sluggish. Any combination of these factors can increase the risk of a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the leg).
You’re at an even greater risk of a DVT if you have an inherited condition that increases your risk of a blood clot, are being treated for cancer, have varicose veins, or have low blood flow due to recent surgery. Additional factors which increase your risk of DVT include: being pregnant, overweight, taking birth control pills or hormone therapy, or over the age of 60.
Traveling by airplane? Get up and move around whenever possible. Walking up and down the aisles once an hour is highly recommended, especially during longer flights.
Traveling by car? Take a break every one to two hours to have a short walk. Pull over in a safe area, get out of the car, walk briskly, breathe deeply, and gently stretch.
If you cannot get up or out of your seat; exercise in your seat by flexing your feet and moving your legs to improve blood flow in the calves; try 30-40 of these movements every half-hour.
Other things to consider when traveling long distances:
Ask your vein specialist about appropriate compression stockings.
Consume plenty of water and limit alcohol when flying.
Don’t wear tight clothing.
Avoid crossing your legs at the knee when sitting.
Store your bags in a place where they won’t hinder your leg movement.