Are you planning to go on a long-haul flight soon? Try these exercises to keep your veins healthy.
After two long years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are taking to the skies this summer for long-postponed vacations. Between June 1 to mid-July, the Transportation Security Administration reports an average of 2.27 million passengers per day, a 16 percent hike over last year!
A summer holiday can be a great way to rejuvenate and relax. But if you have varicose veins, air travel may increase your symptoms of pain and swelling. Even if you don’t have varicose veins, sitting for long periods in a cramped airline cabin can slow your circulation, increasing your risk for blood clots. But you don’t have to cancel your summer trip! Instead, try these exercises while on the plane to ensure you have a safe, pain-free excursion.
Seven exercises that can boost circulation during your flight
Several factors make airline travel potentially harmful to your veins. The air pressure in the cabin may dehydrate you and thicken your blood, making it more likely a clot will develop. When you sit for many hours, your calf muscles don’t have a chance to pump blood through the leg veins. The blood then collects in the vein, increasing swelling and pain if you already have varicose veins.
The good news is that you can counteract those factors by getting the blood pumping in your legs to boost circulation. Here are seven exercises you can try out during your flight:
Get up and walk around. Airplanes aren’t known for being roomy. But if you can, get up from your seat and walk along the aisle every hour or so.
Ankle flexes. Even if you can’t stroll around the aisle, you can exercise while in your seat. Place both heels on the floor and lift your toes high. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds. Relax, then place the balls of your feet on the floor and extend your heels upward. Again, hold for 15 seconds.
Put your knee to your chest. As you bend forward slightly, take one knee and pull toward your chest. Hold for 15 seconds, and do the same with your other knee.
Stretch your legs. While seated, stretch one leg out in front of you. If you put your luggage in the overhead bin, you should have enough room. Rotate the foot of the outstretched leg clockwise and then counterclockwise, doing each rotation ten times. Switch and do the same exercise with the other leg.
Bend forward. Place your feet flat on the floor and squeeze your abdominal muscles inward. Slowly bend forward and move your fingers down your shins to your ankles. Hold for 15 seconds and sit up.
Abdominal crutches. Your abdomen also contains veins. If blood is blocked in those veins, blood in your leg veins will slow, too. Pull your abdominal muscles inward as you sit and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Standing Stretches. While in the aisle, stand on one leg and pull the other knee toward your chest. If there is enough room, touch your toes or perform leg squats.
Although these exercises support circulation, you can do more to keep the blood pumping. Wear compression stockings that gently squeeze the leg veins. Stay hydrated by drinking eight ounces of water every two hours. Avoid coffee and alcohol that can dehydrate you.
With these tips and exercises, you can enjoy your plane flight and vacation without worrying whether your varicose veins will worsen. Or, you can eliminate those concerns by treating your varicose veins before you leave for your trip.
Before you board, consult with a CVR physician
Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) operates three offices in the Atlanta area. Our highly trained physicians have performed thousands of varicose vein procedures to help our patients live pain-free.
Consult with one of our vein specialists in the Atlanta area before you get on the plane: Keith S. Moore, MD, is a board-certified general surgeon specializing in vein procedures. Louis Prevosti, MD, FACS, is board-certified in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. James Fonger, MD, FRCS, is a board-certified physician in general and cardiovascular surgery.
Contact us for a consultation today!
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