Swelling of the ankles and feet when travelling long distances is very common. The condition reverses by itself and is typically harmless. Normally, contractions of the leg muscles during movement aids in driving venous blood to return to the heart.
During long periods of immobility, as it happens during long journeys with your legs on the floor, blood pools in the leg veins. Part of the pooled blood also passes into the surrounding soft tissues of the lower legs, and results in swelling.
AdvertisementWhen should we seek medical attention?
Foot swelling that lasts only for a short time is not a serious problem. The swelling usually resolves once you resume activity. In some cases, the swelling of the leg may be associated with serious conditions. The following may be a warning sign of such conditions:
The swelling does not resolve even several hours after resuming activity.
The swelling is limited to a single leg.
The swelling is associated with pain.
If you feel tired or suffer from breathlessness (the swelling may be due to anaemia and needs evaluation).
How to relieve the leg swelling?
Wear loose-fitting clothing during travel
Move your ankles around; move your ankles and knees upwards and downwards frequently during long periods of travel.
Take short walks
Avoid sitting with crossed legs; keep shifting your position in your seat whenever possible.
Drink plenty of fluids to ensure adequate hydration.
Supportive stockings (compression stockings) are recommended by doctors to people at increased risk of conditions like deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT may occur in people like those who had a recent major surgery or who are taking certain medications such as birth control pills.