6 Ways to Improve Your Circulation on a Flight

Flying when you know you have poor limb circulation can be scary because of the threat of deep vein thrombosis. A holiday can seem out of the question considering the length of time sitting down and the risk factors, but you can still have the trip of a lifetime, even if you have a history of clotting.

Plenty of long-distance travellers find they have the condition if they travel for more than four hours on any mode of transport. Blood clots can form if you are sitting in one spot for long periods and the longer you sit down without moving, the more prone you will be to a blood clot.

We’ve found some top tips that will help you. But first, before you go, check with your doctor about DVT and if you need to take medication.

Symptoms of bad circulation:

  • Cramping during activity
  • Cramping during inactivity
  • Swelling and achiness
  • Tingling
  • Persistent coldness

1. Take a walk

It might sound obvious but the best thing to decrease your risk of a blood clot on a long flight is to get up and walk around the cabin once the seatbelt sign is turned off. Walk up and down the aisles and before you are seated, request an aisle seat at the check-in as you will have more leg room to stretch out.

2. Wear compression stockings

If you have had a DVT scare before, you will want to make sure you wear compression stockings to improve blood flow in your calves. Special stockings provide pressure that’s strongest at the ankle and gradually decreases up to the knee or thigh. Below the knee is usually sufficient, but if you had a blood clot that extended above the knee into the thigh, then thigh compression stockings are also advised.

3. Do exercises in your seat

You might look a bit silly but it’s better than having a life-threatening blood clot. Here’s some to try via Virgin Atlantic:

The revolver
Lift both of your feet off the floor and rotate them in circles – five times clockwise and five times anti-clockwise.

The cuddle
Hold your left shoulder with your right hand and your right elbow with your left hand. Hold for 15 seconds then do the other arm. Repeat twice.

The ballerina
Keep your heels on the floor and point your toes up as far as you can. Then keep your toes on the floor and raise your heels. Repeat five times.

The shrug
Keep your arms still and roll your shoulders forwards five times. Then backwards, five times.

The knees up
Lean forwards slightly, clasp both hands around your knee and lift it to your chest. Hold for 15 seconds, then do the other leg. Repeat twice.

The ‘Where’s my pen?’
Keep both feet on the floor, hold in your stomach and slowly move your hands down your legs towards your ankles. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and slowly sit back up.

The inquirer
Lower your right ear to your right shoulder then roll your head around to your other shoulder. Hold each position for five seconds and repeat 10 times.

4. Stay hydrated

As we all know, over 60s are at a high risk of dehydration as their bodies struggle to retain water and they lose their sense of thirst. Keeping hydrated is even more crucial up in the air so drink water once an hour and avoid alcohol.

5. Ginger and turmeric root

Take along some ginger lollies and turmeric supplements. Ginger can help jumpstart blood flow, as can turmeric root, which has anti-inflammatory properties. These two in unison can create a very nice rhythm in your blood flow and will help to flush out any toxins.

Other foods that are great for circulation are carrots, avocados, tomatoes, squash, and other root vegetables.

6. Wear baggy clothes

Compression is good in areas where you want it, but avoid restrictive clothes so you don’t cut off circulation elsewhere in your body. Baggier clothes will also help when you’re doing exercises.