Often, we get over excited about upcoming holidays and forget the basic essentials of travelling. Being so focused on the destination itself, we tend to neglect one of the most important aspects of any trip; preparing your body for the impending flight. As anyone who has been on a plane before knows, staying seated for long periods of time can be arduous at the best of times. Many of us fail to consider the toll this inactivity is having on our bodies and the reasons why.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can be a serious issue during long-haul flights and long periods of car travel. A general lack of mobility coupled with the increased atmospheric pressure can cause blood to pool in the extremities, which in turn can cause swelling of the feet (we have all been there) and legs and in some cases cause DVT in the leg, where the blood forms a clot and restricts blood flow back to the heart. Effective prevention relies directly on skeletal muscle contraction to pump the blood through the veins to return blood to the heart.
How can you combat DVT next time you fly or go on a road trip?
Regular mobility exercises are a great way to ensure your muscles are contracting and pushing blood back to the heart. If you are driving it’s a good idea to schedule regular stops every 2 or 3 hours where possible (or even more frequently). However, these 3 sets of simple exercises below can be used as an effective means of preventing DVT during air and car/coach travel.
Your inflight/in-car workout
1. Ankle Circles
Lift feet off the floor. Draw a circle with the toes, simultaneously moving one foot clockwise and the other foot counter clockwise. Reverse circles. Rotate in each direction for 15 seconds. Repeat if desired.
2. Foot Pumps
Foot motion is in three stages.
- Start with both heels on the floor and point feet upward as high as you can
- Put both feet flat on the floor
- Lift heels high, keeping balls of feet on the floor
- Repeat these three stages in a continuous motion and in 30-second intervals
3. Neck Roll
With shoulders relaxed, drop ear to shoulder and gently roll neck forward and back, holding each position about five seconds. Repeat five times.
These exercises can enhance blood flow in key areas of the upper body.
Cabin Humidity and Dehydration
Humidity levels of less than 20 percent are common in the cabin. The reason being the low humidity levels of outside air supplied to the cabin, so the in-flight humidity will be decreased. The dry environment can cause discomfort to the nose, throat and eyes. Also, it is suggested not to wear contact lenses when flying.
We recommend that you:
- Drink water frequently throughout the flight (1-2 glasses of water per hour)
- Drink coffee, tea and alcohol in moderation. These drinks have the potential to act as diuretics, further reducing the body’s level of hydration.
- Remove contact lenses and wear glasses if your eyes are irritated.
- Use a skin moisturiser to refresh the skin.
Appropriate eating and drinking will reduce your discomfort both during and after your trip
We recommend that you:
- Avoid overeating just before and during the flight or car trip. It is difficult to digest large amounts of food when the body is inactive.
- Try to avoid consuming coffee, tea and alcohol – these can have a diuretic effect.
If you would like a tailored inflight or in-car workout or need a pain management program while you’re away, make an appointment with our dedicated team at Fairfield Physiotherapy and Sports Injuries Centre