Passengers are often advised to wear compression socks on long-haul flights to reduce the risk of throbbing feet and swollen ankles – with some cases even leading to dangerous blood clots.
However, a doctor has now warned you could have been wearing them wrong for years, and has advised people not to put them on at the airport or just before leaving for a flight. In fact, Dr Marc Shaw of Worldwise Travel Clinics in New Zealand told Herald Travel that socks should be put on much earlier.
“Ideally you should put them on when you get up first thing in the morning, because that’s the time when your legs are less swollen,” he told the publication. “That’s the time when your system starts to adapt.”
Shaw also warned travellers not to rush to take them off, again to give the body time to adapt. Wearing the socks for some hours afterwards can actually reduce any swelling of the legs, he explained.
“Take them off at the hotel, or even some hours afterwards to allow the system to equate again,” he added.
Decreased movement and changes to air pressure can cause temporary poor circulation, which can be harmless, but it’s when the swelling causes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that it can cause real damage and even result in blood clots.
DVT can sometimes be a difficult condition to diagnose because there aren’t always symptoms to look out for. In some cases people show no visible signs that something is wrong, mainly because it impacts the deeper veins, rather than ones on the surface of the skin.
For most people, they notice a particularly uncomfortable pain in the legs and calf. Sometimes the legs can become red and sore, especially when walking, standing, or generally using your legs. Others say their legs and affected areas become particularly warm.
As well as wearing compression socks, there are other ways to stop your legs from swelling on a long flight.
It might sound simple, but a great thing to do is to keep moving while on the flight. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of getting a blood clot is to get up out of your seat and keep moving around the cabin as much as possible. It’s also worth asking for an aisle seat when checking in, so you don’t have to worry about people falling asleep and not being able to get out of your seat easily.
It’s also worth packing some ginger chews or turmeric supplements into your carry-on luggage. Ginger can help jumpstart blood flow, as can turmeric root, which has anti-inflammatory properties.