Summer is officially here, which means that it’s time to enjoy that vacation you’ve been planning. Vacation is an opportunity to see new places, visit friends and family, and have lots of fun! Of course, there is also a lot to think about when preparing to take a trip. If you are worrying that you won’t be able to enjoy sightseeing excursions or other activities because of achy, painful legs, then consider following some of these tips to help keep you on your feet while traveling.
Long periods of sitting or standing contribute to leg fatigue, swelling, and pain. This means that it’s best to avoid sitting for too long, but doing so can be challenging when traveling by plane or on long car rides. Before traveling, drink plenty of water. Adequate hydration prevents the blood from thickening, which can help keep your blood circulating freely. Wearing loose-fitting clothing while traveling also reduces restrictions on circulation. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes as well! While stylish, wearing shoes like high heels can add unnecessary pressure to veins and reduce venous return to the heart.
For extra vein support, consider wearing compression stockings under those loose-fitting pants. These stockings add extra support for your veins and help your veins return blood to your heart, reducing pain and swelling. Compression stockings can be purchased at pharmacies or even big box stores. Consult with your personal physician to determine the right pressure for your needs, or schedule an appointment with Lisa at Artemis Colorado – Vein & Cosmetic Center and she will fit you with the correct stockings.
While on a flight or in the car, take short breaks to stretch your legs, do light calf exercises, or take a short walk. This is a little tricky on planes, but try standing and taking some steps up and down the aisle when the seatbelt light is off. If you can’t leave your seat, you can keep your blood circulating by flexing your ankles, wiggling your toes, and massaging your calves. If you’re very restricted and can’t get up, remember that any movement is better than nothing! These mini-exercises help prevent blood from pooling in your legs. While traveling by car, you can try some of these same movements, and also take breaks every couple hours to stretch your legs, do calf exercises, or take a short walk at a scenic viewpoint, historical marker, or nice rest stop.
After enjoying a day of sightseeing or other activities with friends and family, take a break and elevate your feet for 20 minutes (or even longer). Try to raise your feet so that they are at or above the level of your heart. One way to do this is to lie on a couch and prop your feet up on an armrest. Elevating your legs will help reduce swelling and take pressure off your legs. And, it’s a great way to relax. After all, you’re on vacation!!
Take advantage of any exercise equipment offered at your hotel. Try to maintain your normal exercise routine, or do a modified version. Walking on the treadmill or cycling for 20 minutes once a day will get the blood pumping and warm you up for the day’s activities. If there is a pool in your hotel, even better! Swimming and walking are the best exercises for optimal vein health. However, if your legs are achy, avoid hot tubs. Though soaking sounds tempting, the heat can dilate veins and cause more swelling. Try elevating your legs or massaging your calves instead.
Even though it’s fun to indulge in rich meals while traveling, choose high-fiber foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains when possible. Reducing salt intake can help keep swelling at bay. Healthy eating is good for the whole body and will give you energy for sightseeing. Your veins will thank you, too!
Don’t forget to care for your skin. Wearing sunscreen with at least SPF 50 on your legs (and your entire body) can help prevent sunburn and keep your skin looking healthy and fresh. Remember to reapply after sweating or swimming.
These tips can help your veins, and you, stay in good shape while traveling. If you do find your legs are extra tired after long bouts of walking or standing around watching the kids at the park or pool, something may be amiss and need more attention. Sometimes the cause of lower-leg discomfort is an underlying issue called “venous disease” that needs to be addressed. Venous disease is a condition that can sneak up on you slowly. It can happen to anyone, both men and women, even in middle age. The early signs are frequent fatigue, swelling, pain or feelings of “fullness” in the lower legs. It’s easy to ignore these signs, however, and write them off as a long day of sitting or standing, even if you are moving around. Later signs of venous disease, like varicose or spider veins, are more visible and harder to ignore. Fortunately, there are ways to keep symptoms of venous disease from progressing.
Call Artemis Colorado – Vein and Cosmetic Center and we will talk with you about your symptoms and provide options to consider if you’ve noticed some varicose or spider veins. Discussing your symptoms early can help protect your health and keep you on your feet, enjoying summer, vacation, and life to the fullest.