More and more people are traveling long distances and having to remain seated for long periods of time. When movement is constrained, the blood circulation in the legs is restricted. This situation can lead to several common symptoms such as heavy legs, leg pain, swollen feet and ankles. This symptoms are associated with the term of the Economy Class Syndrome. Prolonged sitting is also a major risk factor for development of phlebitis and thrombosis (blood clot formation). In some cases, blood clots can migrate to the lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolism.

The discomfort and risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis applies to other types of long distance travel such as car, train or bus. When remaining seated without moving for over 4 hours, the risk of DVT could be four times higher. A DVT can happen to anyone during travel, regardless of age, weight, or lifestyle.

A simple and comfortable way to help relieve the symptoms of heavy legs, leg pain, swollen feet and ankles during travel is to wear graduated compression stockings. Wearing compression stockings is also advised to reduce the risk of developing a more serious condition such as phlebitis or deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.1

Medical compression stockings have been proven to prevent symptoms including heavy, tired and achy legs, swelling of feet and ankles. Ask your family physician for information regarding the prevention of DVT and other venous problems during travel.

Travelers Tips:

  • Wear comfortable clothing
  • Move your feet and ankles every 30 minutes :10 flexs and 10 circles
  • Take a short walk every two hours
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Avoid alcohol
  • Wear compression stockings as they are an efficient mean to prevent symptoms and swelling

1) Advice on travel-related DVT, Yuet Wan, 2007, British Department of Health, 12 March 2007.

Benefits of Compression Therapy

Graduated compression hosiery is the most effective in preventing oedema or swelling. It also alleviates leg pain and heaviness and contributes to prevent spider veins or varicose veins. It reduces the risk of acute conditions during long distance travel by increasing circulation and the function of the venous system. When you discover the benefits and comfort of compression stockings during travel, you may want to continue wearing them for years after, and your legs will thank you for their improved health.

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Yes, your risk of developing an ulcer is elevated. The vessels’ functioning is so disturbed that there is stasis. Then edema appears and your skin aspect changes – at first a color change, then it itches and eczema appears. As time passes, your skin hardens. A small wound or an inflammation due to a mosquito bite are enough to cause deterioration to your skin. An ulcer forms. These changes appear gradually and can in most cases be resolved with treatment.

No, as the risk factors like genetic predisposition and higher age cannot be treated. But you can prevent symptoms and also signs of chronic venous insufficiency if you have varicose veins. Keep moving! Use the staircase rather than the elevator. Practice a sport that stimulates your venous system like cycling, swimming, or walking. Raise your legs and move as often as possible. It is also recommended to shower your legs with cold water and to wear compression socks or stockings.