Travel inevitably involves a lot of time sitting in cramped and uncomfortable situations, and due to the mad rush of travelers over the holiday (plus winter coats and packages of gifts, etc.), it can be even worse this time of year.
Dr. Luis Navarro, medical director of The Vein Treatment Center in New York City (and a specialist in treating vein disorders) recommends the following (mostly) free tricks to help keep blood flowing healthfully during travel, which will not only make you feel better upon arrival, but may even help stave off the development or worsening of spider or varicrose veins.
As a regular traveler, I can back up the importance of moving around as much as possible, drinking plenty of water (which will force you up and to the bathroom, if you need motivation to move!), eschewing alcohol and caffeine, and wearing non-restrictive clothes. I practice all these techniques whether I'm sitting on an Amtrak train (even with their roomy seats, it's still important to get up!), squeezing myself into a coach seat or even doing a road trip in my own car. Here's the specifics:
· AVOID PROLONGED PERIODS OF SITTING AND STANDING: Walk up and down the plane/train every 1-2 hours, when possible, for 5-10 minutes
· GET EXERCISE: Do ankle and lower leg exercises, such as ankle rotations
· WEAR GRADUATED COMPRESSION STOCKING: Wear stockings, preferably knee highs with open toe, 15-25mm/hg or 20-30mm/hg
· STAY HYDRATED: Double your water intake when traveling
· AVOID ALCOHOL: Alcohol dehydrates so avoiding alcohol a few days before taking a long trip would be a good idea
· AVOID CAFFEINE: Avoid caffeine while traveling to help prevent poor circulation.
· AVOID CROSSING YOUR LEGS. Leg crossing constricts veins and increases venous pressure.
· WEAR LOOSE-FITTING CLOTHING. Tight garments can restrict the flow of blood to and from the legs.
· ELEVATE YOUR FEET. Raise your feet 6 to 12 inches above your heart whenever possible to assist circulation.
· CONSIDER DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS. Vitamins C and E act as antioxidants, which are good for circulation. Flavonoids, butcher's broom, and Horse Chestnut Seed Extract (HCE50) improve venous circulation and decrease symptoms of venous disease.
Happy (and healthy) traveling!