Foot problems during air travel are common.It is not uncommon during air travel to experience foot problems since you are sitting in the same position for an extended amount of time. Being in a seated position can restrict circulation, cause blood to accumulate in the veins of your legs, and put pressure on the legs and feet. This can lead to a variety of foot problems that can interfere with your travel. 

Some issues may go away once you are off the plane, but others may indicate a more serious concern.  If you experience problems in your feet or legs during air travel that do not go away, contact a podiatrist for an evaluation so you can continue your travels while keeping your feet and legs healthy.

Potential Foot Problems During Air Travel

There are several potential foot problems that can occur during air travel. These problems commonly result from having limited mobility during the flight and not being able to move around as much as you should. 

Some foot problems that may occur during air travel are:

  • Numbness. You may experience numbness in your feet or legs during a flight. Numbness can be the result of poor circulation. Circulation is restricted when seated so once you can move around, the numbness should subside.
  • Swelling. Swelling can occur due to sitting for a long period of time and in itself, is not serious. Any swelling that lasts for several hours after the flight may indicate another issue that will need to be evaluated.
  • Sore feet. You may have sore feet during a flight after walking from terminal to terminal while carrying luggage, or due to sitting for a long period with the knees bent and feet on the floor. This position can cause both swelling and pain.
  • Blood clots. Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition. If you are at risk for developing blood clots, talk to your doctor before air travel. You may need to take medication and wear compression socks to help reduce your risk of blood clots while on a flight.

Prevention Tips

Some prevention tips to consider that can help prevent foot problems during a flight are:

  • Wear proper footwear. Avoid flip-flops and other shoes that do not provide support. An athletic shoe with good arch support made from a breathable material is ideal for air travel.
  • Never let your bare feet touch the floor. This can put you at risk for developing a foot infection such as athlete’s foot.
  • If the flight is over an hour, get up and take a short walk, even if it is just to the restroom and back. If you have a layover and are able to exit the plane, take a brisk walk through the terminal to help regain circulation to your legs and feet.
  • While seated, flex the muscles in your legs and calves and extend your ankles and knees out frequently.
  • Avoid crossing your legs while seated and try to shift the position you are sitting in as much as you can.
  • Drink extra fluids while on the flight to prevent dehydration which can cause cramping.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before and during the flight.
  • Wear compression or supportive socks. Socks can help prevent swelling and can also protect your feet and keep them warm.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that does not restrict your circulation.
  • If prescribed by a doctor, use blood-thinning medication to reduce the risk of blood clots during air travel.
  • Upgrade to an exit row seat or one with extra legroom so you can stretch out your legs during the flight.

Time to See a Podiatrist

If you are experiencing problems with your feet due to air travel, contact the specialists at Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry for an evaluation. We can provide a free consultation and can work with your personal needs to create an individualized treatment plan. To set up an appointment with one of our podiatrists, fill out our contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET.