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What Socks for Travel/Walking to Minimize Swelling

I am new to Europe travel (I am going to Paris this February for the 2nd time). Even though I researched walking shoes for a 15-day, May travel to Europe in 2014, I was miserable by day 4/5 with swollen feet, ankles and calves. It reminded me of when I was pregnant 16 yrs. ago. I 'suffered' with the discomfort, but it definitely inhibited my sightseeing experience (and my travel partner's)!! I am taking my daughter to Paris in Feb.2018 for her 16 Bday. I am more confident with shoe selection this time (will buy 2-3 prs. from apps; wear around house....etc); however, I think I need to wear good socks/support/compression??? as well. I did not pay close attention to socks last trip because it was warm and we spent most time in southern Croatia where the temp. is tropical even. I have come across the mention of 'toe socks' in searching for the right shoes/booties, and most recent, the specific brand, Injinji. My only experience with toe socks were when I was much younger and wore them because they were a fashion fad, and I recall they were uncomfortable. What do you experienced travelers reccomend for socks? I will be walking in Paris for 5days in mid Feb. 2018. My feet, ankles, calves often swell after a few hours on my feet. I am in good physical condition for walking (my 30min. daily walks does not cause me to swell, unless high humidity) but I am getting older. I want to make sure the 2 pairs of shoes I select (one a low bootie; other, a practice 'dressier' shoe) will have enough room for the right socks I need to wear.

Posted by
3551 posts

I swear by thorlo socks to wick away moisture and orthotics. Little to no blisters with a proper fitting shoe. A change of shoe every other day is also advised. No sandals or flip flops, even tho it may be hot.
And for sure do a long dry run bef you leave for your trip. You will be walking on cobbled streets and walking 2 to 3 miles a day.

Posted by
3555 posts

I wear Sockwell Circulator medium compression socks just about all the time on my trips. They help whether I'm sitting for long periods of time, standing or walking. Over many years, many pairs and many styles, I've found the striped ones to work best. There are other designs, but most have weaving bits on the inside that catch on my toe nails as I pull them on or off. They come in lots of colors, as you'll see by the link. You can get them from many online vendors like Amazon and REI.

I also usually wear Ahnu boots or Abeo Mary Janes. I have some Abeo orthotics that I can use in most of my shoes. I recently bought some more fashionable Teva ankle boots. We'll see if that was a mistake on my next trip. All these brands are available online from multiple vendors, but you have to go to a Walking Company or similar store that sells Abeo and use their machine to get the right kind of orthotic.

A combination of options help, but realistically, 6+ hours on your feet can be challenging no matter how much you prepare. In addition, when traveling and eating out most of the time, your salt intake can be higher than at home. That may exacerbate the swelling problem. I know it does for me.

Posted by
203 posts

I will just add this: make sure that you wear compression socks on your flight to Paris. You certainly don't want to start your trip out with swollen feet and ankles. Sounds like you have a very lucky daughter to be going to Paris for her 16th birthday - enjoy!!

Posted by
2779 posts

My hubby and I both swear by merino wool socks like Smartwool. They do make compression socks.

But if your ankles swell while walking ( as opposed to standing), you should talk to your doctor before turning to compression socks. He or she will want to rule out a medical problem like venous insufficiency or kidney problems as a cause of the problem.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you, everyone. I appreciate the sound advice and responses! And, the kidney thing....I had no idea. I will look into a couple things. But, the swelling does occur do to standing for a length of time (e.g. cooking all day, waiting in lines...etc.). DIdn't think about compression socks during the flight; but I think that would help too! I'm looking forward to sharing this special event with my one and only child. We have talked about it for years, she was surprised to see I have followed through, and I am delighted I am able!!

Posted by
5657 posts

...the kidney thing

As Sasha suggest, consultation with your medical practitioner would be better than advice on travel forums. With that caution, Mayo Clinic says: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/edema/symptoms-causes/syc-20366493

Overview

Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body's
tissues. Although edema can affect any part of your body, you may
notice it more in your hands, arms, feet, ankles and legs.

Edema can be the result of medication, pregnancy or an underlying
disease — often congestive heart failure, kidney disease or cirrhosis
of the liver.

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have swelling, stretched
or shiny skin, or skin that retains a dimple after being pressed
(pitting). See your doctor immediately if you experience:

Shortness of breath Difficulty breathing Chest pain These can be signs
of pulmonary edema, which requires prompt treatment.

If you've been sitting for a prolonged period, such as on a long
flight, and you develop leg pain and swelling that won't go away, call
your doctor.

Posted by
14404 posts

Like Sasha and Edgar, my first thought was - ask a medical professional. While this may not be at all abnormal, it isn't very common.

I have learned to wear compression socks on flights because of lousy circulation, but I've never had swollen feet/ankles except on flights.

Posted by
5687 posts

Also, there can be different levels of compression, and a professional can advise what's best for you. I had a compression sleeve to guard against lymphedema after breast cancer surgery, and the physical therapist measured my arm so I got the right size.

Posted by
5657 posts

RE: there can be different levels of compression....

Medicare (i.e. THE GOVERNMENT) requires TED socks for postoperative knee replacement surgery. Looking up TED socks, an interesting explaination of TED vs Compression socks: http://www.hillcrestsouth.com/news/when-should-you-wear-ted-hose-or-compression-socks

TED hose may be prescribed to patients who are non-ambulatory, meaning
they are not up and moving around on their own.... TED hose
compression levels are measured in mmHg, or millimeters of Mercury,
just as we measure our blood pressure. TED hose compression levels are
20 mmHg or below. Patients may wear TED hose for up to three weeks....

Whereas TED hose are prescribed for non-ambulatory patients,
compression socks are best suited for patients who are able to move
around. Generally, compression socks are for patients with circulatory
problems such as venous insufficiency, lymphedema, and varicose veins.
For some patients, this can be a temporary condition during pregnancy,
for example. Compression levels range from 15 to 20 mmHG all the way
up to 60 mmHg (above 20 mmHg is considered prescription strength).
Compression socks help keep blood from pooling in the ankles, where
the pressure is the greatest. They can be worn for up to six months or
more.