Traveling to distant places can be a fun and exciting experience. Whether you’re going on a long road trip, a cross-country train ride, or an overnight flight, the journey can be just as fun as the destination itself. However, lengthy trips still come with their own set of challenges.
One such challenge is the physical discomfort that occurs when you’re seated for extended periods of time. This can not only feel uncomfortable but also lead to more serious health conditions without proper intervention. Something that frequent travelers should watch out for is leg clotting, or what’s medically known as deep vein thrombosis.
What Is Deep Vein Thrombosis?
Deep vein thrombosis, also referred to as DVT, is a health condition that happens when a blood clot forms in a deep vein within the body—usually the leg area. These clots often develop due to slow or blocked blood flow, which leads to blood pooling in the extremities. Hence, being seated or remaining stationary for long periods of time is usually the main cause of DVT.
Certain people are more prone to experiencing the ailment than others. This includes older individuals with deteriorating mobility, trauma patients experiencing paralysis, pregnant women, smokers, and those diagnosed with other health conditions like obesity or varicose veins.
Why You Should Prevent Leg Clots
When clots form within the veins, they have the potential to break off, move to the lungs, and lodge themselves within the pulmonary arteries. This can block the flow of blood to the lungs, causing a fatal health condition known as pulmonary embolism. Medical professionals can prescribe treatments for DVT to prevent it from worsening. They may recommend anticoagulants that thin the blood or certain surgical procedures.
While the possibility of experiencing DVT must be taken seriously, this doesn’t mean that you should hold off on your travel plans. There are simple ways to prevent this condition when you’re taking a long trip. To keep your next journey safe and comfortable, below are seven things you can do to prevent the development of leg clots:
Put On Compression Socks or Tights
Compression socks are a special kind of footwear that is designed to prevent and alleviate conditions related to poor blood flow, such as DVT and varicose veins. Their elastic fabrics help them apply gentle pressure to the legs when worn. This pressure encourages blood to flow more efficiently by pushing it upwards, helping it fight against gravity.
Compression socks come in a variety of sizes, designs, and compression levels. When purchasing your own pair, be sure to select one that provides the most comfortable amount of compression. You may also ask your doctor for their recommendation. If you’re not a big fan of socks, you can opt to get a more stylish option. Some reputable brands offer compression tights for women. These kinds of tights not only look chic and elegant but also provide graduated pressure to assist in proper blood flow.
Besides wearing compression gear, dressing comfortably for your trip is also paramount. The types of clothes you wear can have a big impact on the quality of your blood flow. Garments that are too tight can cut off circulation and increase your chances of developing clots. Keeping this in mind, opt for light and loose-fitting clothing that allows you to move freely. For example, clothes like palazzo pants, boxy shirts, oversized button-downs, and loose maxi dresses are great options for staying cozy and fashionable throughout your trip.
Comfy clothes should be paired with good preventative practices during your travels. One of the most effective ways to get your blood flowing is to keep moving throughout your journey. Sitting in one position for four or more hours can cause blood to pool in the legs, which is something you want to avoid. Even pregnant women need a bit of physical activity to facilitate proper circulation as certain bodily changes that occur during pregnancy can reduce blood flow.
The simplest way to stay active is to stand up and stretch every thirty minutes. If you’re on a plane or a train, try walking across the aisles during these periods. As for car travel, be sure to make stops every sixty to ninety minutes. Use these periods to take a brief stroll outside before hitting the road again.
Practice Feet Pumping Exercises
You can also get your blood flowing while seated. Feet pumping exercises are particularly effective and easy to do. Start by having your feet flat on the floor. Slowly lift your toes up while keeping your heels on the ground. Maintain this position for around three seconds. Then, do the reverse by bringing your toes to the ground and lifting your heels up for another three seconds. Try to repeat this set at least five times each hour. When you’re not moving around, be sure to maintain proper posture. Avoid crossing your legs when seated, as this can slow the flow of blood to and from your legs.
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is an absolute necessity when it comes to preventing all kinds of health conditions, and deep vein thrombosis is no exception to this rule. Water prevents your blood from thickening, encourages quicker circulation, and helps your blood vessels stay open. With this in mind, it helps to pack a portable tumbler or jug for your travels, as it lets you keep track of your daily water intake.
While water can help reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis, other kinds of liquids tend to have the opposite effect. When journeying to your destination, do avoid consuming drinks that have diuretic properties, such as coffee and alcoholic beverages. These kinds of liquids can cause you to expel more water from your body, leading to dehydration.
Smoking can increase your risk of experiencing DVT as it restricts blood flow and encourages the formation of clots. If you have a habit of smoking, try taking the necessary steps to quit before going on your next long trip. Granted, it can be hard to put an end to this kind of habit, but it’s not impossible. Keep trying, even if you regress. It also helps to ask a medical professional for guidance and assistance to make this process easier.
Don’t Skip Your Medication
If you’ve already been diagnosed with DVT, do remember to take the appropriate medications during your travels. In the midst of different activities like sightseeing, it’s easy to forget this simple yet essential task. However, no matter how busy things get, your treatments shouldn’t be skipped.
For example, your doctor may have prescribed maintenance medication specifically for traveling. Be sure to set a reminder on your phone or another device to ensure that you take them on time. Failing to do so may cause DVT to recur and worsen.
While you should be prepared for the possibility of experiencing DVT, you don’t have to let these hypotheticals get in the way of a good trip. It’s quite easy to prevent DVT, as long as you’re wearing the right gear, staying active, avoiding unhealthy habits, drinking enough water, and medicating when necessary. By following the tips mentioned above, you can maintain your health and peace of mind all throughout your travels.