Why do I get fat feet while flying?

Many travelers suffer from it; stuffed feet or thick ankles. Your shoes pinch or your legs feel particularly restless. This is something that can turn your journey into a complete nightmare and is common in the car, train, but especially on the plane. In this blog, an explanation of the cause of thick ankles when traveling and a few useful tips on how to prevent them!

Swollen ankles or feet when flying

In principle, stuffed feet and thick ankles have a simple cause: too little exercise. Somehow this is not a big surprise because during a long flight or car ride you are in the same position for a long period of time. This has a negative effect on your blood circulation. In our blog about fat feet and ankles you will find a detailed explanation of how the circulation of your legs works and also the consequences of too little physical activity. Nevertheless, we will briefly explain it here.

As you undoubtedly know, blood carries oxygen and building materials. As soon as the oxygen and building materials are absorbed into your muscles and tissues, the blood has to return to your heart. Normally, your calf muscles will help to pump the oxygen-depleted blood "back up" as they contract when you walk or run, for example. However, when you sit still for a longer period of time, your circulation does not get the support and necessary support from your calves and the heart has to try even harder to pump the blood back up. Incidentally, a pair of kinked knees do not help in this process either. As a result, moisture and waste products can remain behind and accumulate in the lowest places of the body, i.e. in the ankles and feet.

How do I prevent thick ankles before and during my flight?
  1. Wear comfortable and loose clothing
  • It is best to avoid tight clothing and to wear loose and more comfortable clothes instead. By wearing tight clothing you can pinch your veins and the skin gets too little oxygen from the outside. You can prevent this by wearing slightly more spacious and breathable clothes. Let hip joggers paired with a pair of comfy sneakers now happen to be a major fashion trend. Great for the plane!
  • Take a brisk walk before boarding the plane
    • Regardless of how long you're flying, it's important to take a good walk before boarding the plane. This will get your blood flow going well. Sooner or later the blood flow will start to slow down, increasing the chance of swollen ankles, but by walking briskly first you can postpone that moment as much as possible. Fortunately, at most airports you have enough space to take a walk. However, you may not have enough time for this due to a long traffic jam, train delay or chaotic working day. In that case, read on to tip 5!
  • Do not sit cross-legged
    • Although many people (especially women) find this comfortable to sit, crossed legs can still have quite a few adverse consequences. By crossing your legs you pinch your veins, which is really bad for blood circulation. You also increase the risk of varicose veins!
  • Wear compression socks
    • Just like in the office, you can also improve your blood circulation on the plane by wearing compression socks. STOX Energy has special compression socks called STOX Travel Socks and have been specially developed for people who travel a lot by plane or car. These socks are made of merino wool and regulate the temperature in your legs. The risk of traveler's thrombosis is also almost 19 times smaller than when you wear normal socks! Read more in our other blog article about a scientifically based solution for traveler's thrombosis.
  • Do airplane fitness!
    • By car you can quickly take a pit stop or a rest break and take a walk across a parking lot, but during a flight of 10 hours that becomes a difficult story. You can walk down the aisle to have a chat with a nice passenger sitting a few rows away, but that's about it. Nevertheless, you can keep your legs flexible during your flight by means of a few practical exercises. If you have enough leg room, you can, for example, lift your leg and keep your foot 10 centimeters off the ground. Make 10 circular movements with your lower leg and then change direction. Do the same with your other leg. You can also do another exercise by lifting your heels as high as possible while keeping your toes on the floor. Hold your heels in this position for 10 seconds and then lower them back down. Do this repetition 10 to 15 times and your leg muscles will be warmed up again!

    Tips for after the flight

    • After your trip, put your calf muscles back to work by taking a walk. Build it up slowly!
    • Continue to wear compression socks for a few days.
    • At night, elevate your legs above the rest of your body (e.g. with a pillow).
    • Limit salt intake as much as possible for a few days (salt retains moisture in the body after all).

    Fortunately, as you read, there are plenty of ways to prevent swollen ankles or swollen feet while traveling. Do you travel a lot by plane or car and do you have a few good tips that we have not mentioned?