Land like a pro: how to avoid swollen ankles after a flight

By Iryna BolshakovaJul 10, 2024 08:14 AMBlog
Preventing leg swelling during a flight
Preventing leg swelling during a flight. Source: Image andreas160578 from Pixabay

A long flight, a long-awaited vacation, and now you are already walking through the airport. You're walking with some uncertainty, because your legs seem to have become twice as heavy. Does that feel familiar?

Ankle swelling after a flight is a common problem faced by many travelers. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to prevent discomfort and maintain an easy gait even after the longest flight. In this article, we will look at why in-flight swelling occurs at all and how to deal with it so that nothing can mar the joy of traveling.

Why ankles swell in flight

So why, despite the apparent ease of flight, our ankles sometimes turn into pads by the end of the trip? Several factors are responsible for the discomfort.

Firstly, low air pressure in the airplane cabin contributes to fluid retention in the body, including in the leg area.

Secondly, a long stay in a sitting position slows down blood circulation, which also contributes to swelling.

Do not discount dehydration, which often accompanies us in flight because of the dry air in the cabin.

And, of course, not the least role is played by our gastronomic habits: salty snacks and alcohol only aggravate fluid retention.

Swollen legs after a flight: when to be on the alert

In most cases, swollen legs after a flight are a temporary phenomenon that goes away on its own. However, in some situations, they can be a sign of more serious health problems.

Be sure to see a doctor if:

  • The swelling is very severe and does not go away for several hours after the flight.
  • In addition to swelling, you experience pain, redness, or a feeling of heat in the leg area.
  • You have an elevated body temperature.
  • The swelling appears on only one leg.

These symptoms may indicate deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Do not self-medicate, timely referral to a specialist will help avoid negative health consequences.

Swelling prevention: your legs will say "thank you"

But do not despair and buy shoes a size larger in advance! There are a number of simple recommendations that can help prevent swelling or minimize it. By following these tips, you can make your flight more comfortable and avoid unpleasant sensations in your feet after landing.

What to do before your flight

Preparing for your flight starts long before you are on board the plane. Here are some simple tips to help you prevent swollen legs:

  • Compression stockings. Wear compression stockings or socks, which promote normal blood flow and prevent fluid stagnation in your legs.
  • Water balance. Drink enough water before your flight to avoid dehydration.
  • Diet. Limit your intake of salty foods and alcohol the night before your flight, as they contribute to fluid retention.
  • Warm-up. A short warm-up before boarding the plane will help "warm up" the blood and prepare the body for the flight.
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes. Choose loose clothing that does not restrict movement and comfortable flat-soled shoes.
  • Quality rest. Try to get a good night's sleep before your flight to keep your body energized.
  • Medical checkup. If you have a chronic medical condition, consult your doctor before flying.

These simple measures will help you keep your legs light and feel good during the flight.

How to avoid swollen feet after a long flight
How to avoid swollen feet after a long flight. Source: Image by Milius007 from the Pixabay website

Recommendations: how to behave in an airplane

Even if you have carefully prepared for the flight, you should not forget about the prevention of swelling and while on board the plane:

  • Movement is life. Try to move your legs and feet regularly, make rotational movements with your feet, bend and straighten your legs at the knees.
  • Walking around the cabin. Getting up and walking around the cabin when allowed is a great way to improve circulation.
  • Drinking regimen. Continue to drink water or juice during your flight to help maintain water balance.
  • Proper posture. Avoid crossing your legs as this impairs circulation.
  • Foot pillow. Use a special foot pillow or a rolled up blanket to elevate your legs during the flight.

These simple steps will help you reduce the risk of swelling and make your flight more comfortable.

After the flight: don't forget about your legs

Even after landing, it's important to pay attention to your legs to help them recover from the flight:

  • Stretching. A few simple stretching exercises can help restore circulation and relieve tension in your legs.
  • Elevated leg position. If possible, lie down and elevate your legs above heart level for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Water. Continue to drink adequate amounts of water to help restore water balance.

Of course, each case is different. If you have chronic diseases related to blood circulation, it is worth consulting your doctor before flying. He or she may recommend additional preventive measures, such as taking special blood thinners.

Remember that taking care of your health is the key to a comfortable and enjoyable trip!

What to put in your bag: products for the prevention of edema

Proper nutrition is your true ally in the fight against swelling during the flight. Here are some tips on food selection.

  • Choose foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, apricots, apricots, apricots, prunes, raisins and spinach. This will help to flush out excess fluid from the body.
  • Foods high in water content like cucumbers, watermelons, melons, and greens help in maintaining water balance.
  • Avoid salty foods - snacks, fast food, as salt retains fluid in the body.
  • Alcohol and sweet carbonated drinks contribute to dehydration.

Take small snacks on the flight to avoid the temptation to buy unhealthy "goodies" at the airport or on the plane.


Swollen ankles after a flight are not a judgment, but just a minor nuisance that can be easily prevented. By following simple recommendations and paying attention to your well-being, you will be able to enjoy every moment of your trip, from takeoff to landing. Have an easy flight and bright impressions!

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