Why Do My Feet Swell When I Fly?

Why Do My Feet Swell When I Fly?

August 7, 2018

You might have noticed and wondered why your feet and ankle swell during long flights?  The reason for this physiologic swelling is due to a combination of air cabin pressure, dependent position of the feet, and immobility.

The body relies on the muscles of the lower leg, calf, and ankles to help circulate blood and return it to the heart.  However, during long periods of immobilization, the process is disrupted and this causes increased pressure in the blood vessels causing engorgement and swelling of the foot and ankle.  It is also this lack of mobility why some people have developed blood clots during air travel.

While the risk of swelling or blood clots cannot be fully eliminated, it can be minimized with periodic movement of the foot and ankle.  Many airlines have published exercises designed to keep muscles limber and stretched out during long flights in their in-flight magazines.  Alternatively, SimpleTherapy can provide engaging, short duration, exercises programs designed to improve blood flow and circulation to the extremities to minimize swelling and stiffness during travel.

Safe travels!


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