It seems like flying is always either a great experience or a miserable one. One thing that can quickly ruin any flight are swollen ankles and the pain and discomfort that come with them. Swollen ankles are caused by poor circulation through your feet and blood pooling up in your ankles. Planes make you especially susceptible to slower blood flow for a variety of reasons, but there are plenty of simple strategies you can employ to promote strong circulation and to avoid swollen ankles ruining your trip.
Long-flights can mean sitting in your seat with your feet on the ground for hours on end, which is the perfect recipe for blood gathering in your feet and swelling up your ankles. To combat this, get out of your seat and take a walk down the aisle at least once every hour to get your blood flowing again. Consider booking an aisle seat if you don’t want to be the passenger always asking the person next to you to stand up so you can get out.
Turbulence may force your pilot to turn on the fasten seat belt sign, forcing you back to your seat. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up circulation through your feet and ankles. There are plenty of mini ankle exercises you can do sitting down to get you blood moving. Consider doing a few sets of ankle rolls and heel lifts every half hour or so to increase circulation.
The low humidity of airplane cabin air can quickly dehydrate your body if you are not consuming enough fluid. When you get dehydrated your blood thickens and blood flow slows down, meaning that blood is more likely to pool up in your feet and ankles. Luckily, the solution to dehydration is as simple as it gets—drink water, and lots of it! Start hydrating yourself the day before your flight, bring an empty water bottle to fill up in the terminal and bring with you on the plane, and make sure to get a glass of water every time the beverage cart passes by.
Enjoying a drink can be a great way to pass the time on a long flight, but it can actually compound ankle swelling. Alcohol is dehydrating, which can slow blood flow—the opposite of what you want if you’re trying to prevent swollen ankles. This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever have a drink on your flight, but if you do, make sure to drink lots of water and practice a couple more of these strategies to promote circulation and keep your ankles from swelling.
Wearing compression socks or foot compression sleeves (aka plantar fasciitis sleeves) on your flight is the easiest way combat swollen ankles—just put them on prior to takeoff and feel the difference! Run Forever Sports compression products use “graduated compression” to improve circulation and prevent swelling. This means that compression is greater/tighter in the bottom of the sleeve and lessens as it goes past your ankle and up your calf. This effectively fights gravity to keep blood flowing in and out of your feet to prevent swollen ankles without you doing anything! Just sit back and enjoy your flight.