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.

Photo by: Courtesy of VIM&VIGR

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. 



Illustration of deep vein thrombosis, a vein pathology caused by the presence of a blood clot in the veins of the lower limbs, preventing the blood from flowing normally to the heart, and causing hyperpressure above the clot. The patient experiences pain, bruising, warmth and shining skin.

Photo by: BSIP/UIG


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."

Even celebrities like Jessica Alba wear compression socks while traveling. And several companies like VIM&VIGR and Rejuva are making stylish, designer options for women and men. 

Photo by: Courtesy of VIM&VIGR

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:

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.

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