How to prevent feet swelling during air travel

Last year I visited 4 continents, 9 countries, had than 30+ flights and God knows how many train journeys. Some were harder than others, like my 14h flight to Buenos Aires. I love flying, but when you fly, you’re trapped in a tiny seat in an enclosed area without much room to move. As a result, you may land with swollen feet. To save you from the pain I put together a list of my top tips to prevent feet swelling when flying.

airplane seats

Make sure you are all set up before the plane takes off

When you can, get an aisle seat. It will be easier for you to get up and walk around, and you’ll have more room to keep your feet comfortable. Bulkhead seats (in the front of the plane or each section) and emergency row seats offer the most room for you to stretch your legs.

If your feet are fighting for space with your carry-on bags, they’ll be cramped even more into awkward positions that cut off the blood supply. Make sure to store your bags in the overhead locker to free up some space for your legs.

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how to prevent feet swelling

Exercise your feet

Get up several times during the flight, even if it’s just to pace up and down the aisles, to get your blood flowing. Try doing this several times each hour to prevent swelling in the feet and legs. Move around and stand if allowed, especially on flights over two hours.

Even when you can’t get up and walk around, you can work the muscles in your feet. Point your toes up and down, side to side to get your feet moving. If your feet are swollen already, a few exercises can help get the blood flowing again and reduce swelling.

If possible, keep your feet propped up to stimulate circulation. If there’s no one next to you, stretch out and prop your feet up across the seats. At the very least, prop your feet up on the foot bar of the seat in front of you. If you are trying to relieve swollen feet, propping them up will help them get back down to size and feel better again.

Kick off your shoes, prop up your feet, and give them a well-deserved rub. A foot massage will help stimulate blood flow and prevent feet swelling.

Don’t cross your legs. Your circulation is already slow when you’re sitting for hours, so don’t cut it off even more by crossing your legs.

feet massage to prevent feet swelling

Watch your diet & hydrate

The day of and day before you travel, avoid salt as much as possible. Salt can cause you to retain fluid, which can make your feet swell even more.

Drink plenty of water the day before and the day of the trip so that you don’t start out dehydrated. Bring a big bottle of water with you on the plane and refill it as needed to stay hydrated. Another plus to drinking a lot of water: You will need to get up and walk to the bathroom when nature calls.

Wear proper footwear

Wear compression socks or hose and avoid normal socks that constrict above the ankle. Also, slip-on shoes work the best. They can be removed easily and allow you to massage or exercise your feet.

feet hanging from the car window

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Do you have any other tips to prevent feet swelling when flying? Let us know in the comment section below.


Text: Irina Gorskaia

Images: Unsplash

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 Irina Gorskaia

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