Why You Should Wear Compression Socks on Your Next Flight
These are not your grannie's stockings.
We've all been there. Long flight, cramped in coach. You finally land and discover your ankles have swollen to twice the normal size and maybe it even hurts to walk to baggage claim. Traveling is so rewarding but can take a toll on your circulation. While the risk of developing blood clots on a flight is low, it goes up as travel time increases.
Courtesy of VIM&VIGR
Enter compression socks. Yes, really. Your grandmother and marathon runners are on to something. These stockings help increase circulation and reduce the risk of swelling or worse deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and clotting on a long flight.
How Do They Work?
According to the Mayo Clinic, "Compression stockings steadily squeeze your legs, helping your veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. They offer a safe, simple and inexpensive way to keep blood from stagnating."
Courtesy of VIM&VIGR
But as cute as they can be, if, like me, you don't like wearing them all the time, just toss a pair in your carry-on and change on the plane. I never fly without them now and gift them to other travelers all the time. They're also great for hiking, skiing and other outdoor activities where you're on your feet all day.
How to Put Them On
If you're new to putting on compression socks, it takes a litle practice. The best way to put them on is to grab the toe and fold the rest of the stock inside out. Place your foot into the toe area and roll the rest of the stocking over your ankle and leg.
And remember: If they feel too tight or painful, you got the wrong size. And that can actually cause more harm than good. Compression socks should feel like your calves are getting a gentle hug, not being strangled.
More Circulation Tips
If you've tried compression socks and just hate the feeling, the Mayo Clinic also recomends these actions to help circulation while traveling:
Wash Your Hands“Hand washing is the single most important thing anybody can do to protect their health,” advises. Dr. Philip Tierno, professor of Microbiology and Pathology at NYU School of Medicine and author of The Secret Life of Germs. He says you should spend 20 seconds washing, including under the nail beds.
If you can’t wash your hands right away, Dr. Tierno warns against touching your face to prevent germs from entering via your eyes, nose or mouth. Additionally, Dr. Tierno and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using hand sanitizer as an alternative to soap and water. 960 1280
Visit a Travel ClinicPhyllis Kozarsky, MD, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Emory University, recommends visiting a travel clinic beforehand, particularly if you’re traveling to a developing country. The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) provides a list of travel clinics across the world. “It’s virtually impossible for even an outstanding general doctor… to keep up to date with all the things going on internationally.”
She suggests visiting a travel clinic 4-6 weeks prior to a trip. In addition to receiving any pertinent travel inoculations, Dr. Kozarsky also advises getting up to date with routine immunizations, such as tetanus and flu shots. 960 1280
Boost Your Immunity Before a Long FlightTravel expert Wendy Perrin, Founder of WendyPerrin.com, suggests taking Vitamin C before boarding a long flight. “Air is recycled on planes, and there are so many germs that can spread through the air on a plane.”
Emergen-C is also convenient since it comes in packets and can be added to water.
Carry a Medical KitDr. Kozarsky advises packing whatever you use on a regular basis at home, including prescriptions, in a carry-on bag. She says Tylenol, Ibuprofen, cold medications, Neosporin, cortisone cream, first aid, Band-aids, gauze pads and medical tape are among the items in her kit.
Perrin says when traveling to developing countries she also brings Immodium for an upset stomach and a prescription antibiotic such as Zithromax or Cipro. Of course, ask your doctor what’s best for you. 960 1280
Prevent Bug BitesThe extent to which you protect yourself depends on where you’re traveling, and the types of activities you’ll be doing, says Dr. Kozarsky. For example, Zika virus is currently prevalent in South America, the Caribbean and more. Check the CDC site for the most recent updates. However, Dr. Kozarsky cautions there are other serious mosquito-borne diseases to protect against, like malaria or dengue fever. In those cases, she recommends using an insect repellent containing between 25 and 35 percent DEET.
For more complete coverage, clothing may be treated with permethrin. She also suggests Picaridin, which is newer and considered milder on skin than DEET, but questions the effectiveness of more natural products in preventing bug bites. “Use an EPA-recommended product.” 960 1280
Stay HydratedLong flights, activity-packed days and hot climates require more liquid than typically consumed at home. Opt for bottled water over sugary drinks, and strive for the equivalent of eight 8 oz. glasses during the course of a day. Certain foods, including watermelon, yogurt and cucumbers, also contain a high water content. 960 1280
Be Careful What You Eat and DrinkDr. Kozarsky notes that the CDC provides a lot of general recommendations, but “it’s not clear how much they work, as it depends on contamination of the food or beverage at any point when it could be handled.” That said, experts agree eating hot, steaming food is the safest option. In developing countries, the CDC suggests avoiding raw food, fruits and vegetables washed in tap water and food from street vendors. It’s okay to drink boiled or bottled water, hot beverages and carbonated drinks, but be careful of ice cubes made from tap water.
Dr. Tierno also warns against drinking the water in airplane bathrooms. “It is contaminated… it’s teeming with bacteria,” he says. He personally uses a hand sanitizer instead of washing his hands with it. 960 1280
ExerciseIf a regular fitness routine is part of a healthy lifestyle at home, try to maintain it while on the road. Many hotels include fitness centers, and in-room fitness programs are a growing trend. For example, celebrity yoga instructor Tara Stiles teemed up with W Hotels to provide short, instructional yoga videos. Depending on the area you’re in, running or riding bikes are also great ways to sightsee. 960 1280
Use Common SenseExperts say to practice the same behaviors while traveling that you would at home. For example, Dr. Kozarsky doesn’t think it’s realistic for people to sanitize everything around them, and it also infringes on one’s ability to enjoy a trip. She cites how many germs we encounter in our daily lives, from the mall to the movie theater, “yet, somehow we become paranoid when we’re out of town.” 960 1280
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Sleep TightMany people suffer anxiety while flying, leaving them exhausted upon arrival. Mosaic Weighted Blankets offers a refreshingly low-tech solution. Weighted blankets simulate the effect of a reassuring hug, which increases serotonin, producing a calming, sleepy feeling, as if you were napping under Grammy's homemade quilt. 960 1280
Relaxation 30,000 Feet in the AirThere are ways to do yoga on a plane that do not end with an air marshal and handcuffs. Yogi Ramesh Padala has devised YogaTailor a personalized yoga and meditation guide with suggestions for air travellers by which he swears. Teri Meissner teaches the Japanese practice of Jin Shin Jyutsu, a touch-based relaxation technique that can be applied even within the confines of an airplane seat. 960 1280
Tune In, Drop Off With MeIf you find it impossible to tune out the carnival in your brain prior to an early flight, the DreamScience Brainwave Oriented Sleep Companion is your own personal off switch. 20 nature-themed soundscapes and hypnotic mood lighting will drop you into a blissful dream that the gradual wake setting will lift you out of in time to make your connecting flight. 960 1280
Fasten Your Head BeltsThe only thing worse than not being able to sleep on a plane is being too good at it. The GoSleep Travel System is a car seat for your nodding noodle. It combines a memory foam neck pillow with a sleep mask that wraps around the seatback keeping you in the upright, locked position for the entire flight. We love the cool retro-aero designs. 960 1280
You're Getting SleepyFour out of 5 scientists agree that listening to the windbag next to you doubles flight time. SleepPhones are headphones in a headband form that comfortably and cordlessly evict the outside world from your headspace. They’re made from recycled plastic bottles, so when you glance out the window at that swirling vortex of trash in the Pacific, you’ll rest easy knowing you had little to do with it. 960 1280
First Class Sound, Even in CoachWhen you want to feel fancy even when you're sitting by the aft lavatory, slip these tony Symphony 1 cans over your ears and let the vulgarians speculate as to the aristocrat in their midst. These premium Definitive Technology Bluetooth headphones feature 50mm drivers for high-quality sound and pack a battery with 10 hours of run time, although these leather and chrome babies should score you an inflight upgrade to business class before that ELO playlist blows your cover. 960 1280
Heavenly SleepIf you’re not a fan of bulky, neck pinching, swim camp looking travel pillows, the Travel Halo may be the answer to your prayers. While the oversized eye flap blocks out light, the two stabilizer pillows on the back of the headband keep your dome upright, balanced and comfortable. The Travel Halo packs into a tiny bag that fits neatly into your purse or pocket. 960 1280
Blue Light SpecialUsing a mobile device before trying to sleep is like Red Bull for your eyeballs. The blue light from phones and tablets inhibits the production of melatonin. Enter WaveWall Sleep, an affordable blue light filter and screen protector for Apple and Android devices. Now you can use your mobile device until the sun comes up, secure in the knowledge that it won’t keep you from losing sleep. 960 1280
Convertible NeckwearThere’s nothing more dashing than an aviator scarf, but they haven’t been functional flight wear since the open cockpit era. The Voyager Travel Pillow Set by Happy Luxe resuscitates the classic accessory by including two removable pillows that can be configured as neck support or a sleeping cushion. There’s even an air-activated warmer in case cabin temps dip below your comfort level. 960 1280
Window Seat UpgradeThe Znzi Travel Pillow instantly turns your porthole into a headrest. The plush, adjustable pillow has two suction cups that attach to your window, enabling you to make the most of a limited space. When you arrive, the pillow folds into a small slipcase that slides onto your luggage handle for quick deplaning. 960 1280
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Cake MascaraCake mascara is a great alternative when liquids are not allowed. This is the classic Hollywood way to darken and define the eyelashes. It comes in a pressed, cake form and can be mixed with water then applied with a firm brush. They recommend curling the lashes first -- Paula Dorf or Longcils Boncza brands are favorites. 960 1280
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1: Get Up
Stretch and walk around every hour while flying.
2: Same on the Road
Pull off every hour and do deep leg bends.
3: Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can contribute to the development of blood clots.
4: Move in Your Seat
Flex your ankles every 30 minutes.