The coming holidays and winter breaks mean traveling for many people. But spending more than four hours in a car, bus, train or plane leaves you at moderate risk for blood clots in your legs caused by a lack of circulation. These can sometimes break free and travel to the lungs, causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. The longer you are immobile, the greater your risk of developing a blood clot.
The good news is that, with the following precautions that encourage circulation in your legs and feet, you can take that extended trip and reduce your risk of developing a blood clot:
- If you are driving, stop at least every two hours for a break. Get out of the car and walk around a little before getting back on the road.
- If you are on a plane, train or bus for more than four hours, stand up at least every hour and walk up and down the aisle.
- Drink plenty of fluids, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes that are not tight around your waist or your legs.
- Between stretch breaks, extend your legs out and pull your toes toward you. If you do not have the legroom to do this, point and flex your toes and make circles with your feet.
It is also important to recognize the symptoms of a blood clot in the legs. These include swelling in one leg, pain or tenderness in your leg, reddish or bluish skin, and an area of your leg feeling warm to the touch.
Finally, if you are embarking on a long trip soon, call our office and make an appointment before you go. Together, we can review exercises you can perform while traveling to ensure that you have a safe, healthy journey.