Previously we wrote about “economy class syndrome,” and how sitting motionless in cramped conditions during long airline flights can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis, or DVT.
We listed a few tips to help reduce your risk, such as getting up to walk around every few minutes, staying well hydrated, and if you have varicose veins, seeing your vein doctor to have your DVT risk properly assessed before you travel.
In this follow-up article, we present a few more tips, in the form of several simple exercises that are important for vein health and can reduce your DVT risk even further.
7 Exercises you can Perform While Travelling to Keep Your Legs Healthy
Here are a number of in-flight exercises recommended by airlines. They help to overcome the stiffness caused by sitting motionless for so long, but they also help to improve your circulation and reduce your risk of DVT.
Note: Most of these exercises can be performed in your seat and won’t make you look too silly while doing them, but if you’re seated next to strangers it is a good idea to explain to them what you’re doing before you start.
Sitting up straight, place both heels on the floor and lift your toes as high as you can, holding the stretch for 15 seconds. Then relax and perform the opposite motion, placing the balls of your feet on the floor and lifting your heels as high as you can for 15 seconds.
Lift both feet off the floor and rotate your toes in a circle. Start by moving both feet five times in a clockwise direction, then five times counter-clockwise. Finish up by moving one foot clockwise while moving the other counter-clockwise, then reverse directions and repeat.
Knee to chest
Bend forward slightly and grab your left knee and pull it towards your chest. Hold for 15 seconds, and then repeat with the other knee.
Stretch one leg out straight under the seat in front of you and rotate your foot clockwise ten times, and then counter-clockwise ten times. Repeat with the other leg.
Place both feet flat on the floor and pull your abdomen in, then bend forward slowly and walk your fingers down your shins to your ankles. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then sit up.
Sit up straight and contract your abdominal muscles and hold them in place for 20-30 seconds. Then do the same thing while tightening your gluteal muscles.
Stretch while waiting for the bathroom
You can perform the standing version of the exercise Knee to Chest by standing on one leg and pulling the other knee towards your chest. Also, if there is room in the aisle, you can do a couple of gentle leg squats or touch-your-toes exercises.
We hope these exercise suggestions will make your next plane flight more comfortable. They’ll certainly help to keep your legs healthy. If you have any questions about these exercises, or if you are concerned about your vein health, please give us a call at our offices on 1300 535 017 to set up an appointment for a personalised assessment.