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Compression socks/foot rest

Anyone use compression socks on flight? Do they help with feet swelling?

Also, it would be great to have my feet higher, rather than low on the group. I use a little stool at home under my desk. Can't haul that with me, so what have you taken along?

Posted by
339 posts

I do use compression socks and they do help with feet swelling. They look a little clunky (OK really clunky) with sandals but they can be removed on arrival and no swollen feet. I have heard someone mention on this forum about maybe an inflatable beach ball or inflatable something for elevating feet. Maybe someone else will chime in on that.

Posted by
809 posts

I do wear compression socks though am never sure if they make a difference. I also tend to pull my personal item out from below the seat in front of me once we reach cruising altitude and either rest my feet on it or stretch my legs into the empty space. The inflatable ball idea sounds like fun, though!

Posted by
5788 posts

There's a plethora of compression socks. For example: http://www.rei.com/c/socks?q=compression&s_kwcid=sDcExGAlJ_dt|pcrid|37703772245|pkw|%2Brei%20socks|pmt|b|google|main

You can also use compression sleeves - like socks minus the foot.

In picking out compression socks/sleeves you may be best served buying from a store with knoiwlegable staff who can fit you with their compression item. Small socks on large legs would be obvious, while large sleeves on skinny legs will not provide their desired compression. If you will be wearing the compression product for half a day, you need the Goldilocks fit.

Posted by
5697 posts

Haven't done the socks, but I DID travel with a compression sleeve after lymph node surgery -- RX and measured for me. Not easy to put on / take off and I can't say whether it did any good (I've been on long plane rides without it in the ensuing years with no ill effects.) I wouldn't suggest using the sleeve without a medical reason. Socks seem more benign.

Posted by
10344 posts

I notice no one has commented on the OP's question about bringing some kind of "portable footrest" on the airplane.
I've personally never seen anyone do that, in an economy airplane ride.

What would bringing your own footrest count against? Would it constitute your carry-on or your personal item?

Obviously, the airline will be glad to sell you a built-in footrest, but it will cost you (business class seat).

Posted by
8852 posts

Someone suggested in the past that using an inflatable beach ball works well as a foot rest. It takes up very little room in your bag and it can be inflated as much or as little as you like.

Posted by
5788 posts

If you're seated in the cheap seat sections I've experienced, the inflatable beach ball would have to be pretty small.

Any chance that you could get your Doc to prescribe travel in one of the forward sections with retractable footrests as a tax deductible medical necessity? Of course you may have to do some fancy footwork when you get your IRS letter.

Posted by
3713 posts

In answer to your questions and based on our experience, yes and yes. I usually put my feet on top of the bag I have beneath the seat in front of me.

My husband and I have 2 different doctors both of which have told us we should wear compression socks most of the time. After resisting, he's religious about it. Me...not so much. There are 3 levels of compression: light, medium and firm. FootSmart has an excellent selection of them: http://www.footsmart.com/compression-socks-s.aspx. You can also find a good selection at Amazon.

We both need them to cover the foot and go up over the calf as close to the knee as possible to aid in circulation and keep swelling down. I prefer the cute ones like those made by Sockwell. He likes the dorky white athletic-type ones. We both get medium/moderate compression.

Now here's a little story. Our son is a pilot. He injured an ankle while hiking. It was taking a long time to heal and interfering with his work. He had quite a bit of bruising. He showed us the bruising one day and my husband gave him a pair of TravelSox. He wore them the next day to work and later let us know that he was a convert. They improved his circulation so much in one day that all the bruising went away. They were medium compression. Our son has chicken calves compared to his father, but the same size socks worked for both of them.

Posted by
786 posts

If you are going to use compression stockings, make sure:
1) they fit (measure your calf)
2) They are no more than 15-20 mmg Hg in compression. This should be sufficient for people without medical problems (history of blood clot, venous/arterial disease, etc). If you have such medical problems, you should see your doctor and get properly fitted for stockings. You also shouldn't need more than a knee high.

If you wear stockings that are way too tight for too long, you can get a temporary nerve injury. Depending on the nerve, the symptoms could be mild like numbness or more severe like difficulty walking/moving the foot. This would be temporary but a bad start to your trip.

There is not a medical benefit to compression stockings in healthy people/people at low risk for a blood clot. But it is definitely nice to arrive and not have your toes looking like sausages (like mine do!).

Posted by
10344 posts

Kristen, thanks for your input on this travel health issue.
(Kristen is one the two doctors, that I'm aware of, who are regular contributor here).
And thank you to each person who has contributed to this topic, whether or a dispenser or user of medical services!

Posted by
238 posts

I want to make sure I have this right...is it OK to wear compression socks if you have not been ordered to do so by a doctor? Is it OK to wear them to prevent swelling? What is a person has high blood pressure? Don't compression socks increase blood pressure?

If I sit a lot I always get achey legs, somewhat heavy feeling but when I get up but the ache goes away quickly once I take a walk. I also get some edema if I sit long (example...I have gotten in while sitting in an all day computer class). It is usually not extreme but I do notice it.

I bought Sharper Image compression socks...knee high style...to possibly wear on this trip due to the horror stories I hear about blood clots. I thought it was OK to wear them as precautionary measure. Right or wrong? By the way...I do not want to have any medical tests or go through the stress of seeing my doctor before this trip. Last exam I had was 3 weeks ago and all was OK. Never had a heart stress test but my EKG has been normal. BP averages 128/78 with meds.

Posted by
786 posts

Yes -it is okay to wear a light compression sock that fits appropriately even if your doctor hasn't told you should. They do not raise your blood pressure.

Posted by
22 posts

I have the blowup footrest that was mentioned in an earlier post. I love it! It only takes a few puffs to inflate. I don't fully inflate it and it feels "cushier" to me. I have used my carryon as a footrest but I find the inflatable much more comfortable. BTW I am 5' so I really need something otherwise my feet dangle and the edge of the seat hurts my lower thigh/back of knee.

Posted by
57 posts

Ginger,

The last time I checked both Travelsmith and Magellon websites had folding footrests for sale. They were three pieces of wood that folded flat for storage (in an outside pocket maybe?) but opened up to make a footrest. Since I also have the problem of feet not touching the floor when I'm sitting in most chairs, I would get one if I could afford it. Can't this year.

I sometimes use my carry-on to prop my feet up. That helps to some extent.

I'm also sure someone could make one if handy with woodworking tools.

Hope you've found something that works for you.

Posted by
67 posts

A partially inflated beach ball makes a great foot rest, and can be empied of air to fit nicely in your bag between flights. Plus, it's only a buck at the dollar store!

Posted by
453 posts

Thanks for the helpful advice.

I ended up using a beach ball. Saw one lady with the blow up foot stool. She smiled at my ball!

Posted by
238 posts

Glad the beach ball worked out and I will remember it for my next trip.

UPDATE....my friend, who has vericose veins told me the compression stockings I bought (medium) were maybe too strong for me. She said she uses MILD and she travels all over the world.

Guess what? She may have been right. The medium seemed to make my little toes numb. They did reduce leg soreness and I arrived without any inflammation. I ended up wearing them part of the time but not all the time.

Posted by
12 posts

I buy knee high stockings from Sears. When it's hot, I have to remember to wear something long enough to cover the tops of them--longer cropped pants, or skirts--or I feel like it looks funny. It already looks funny enough to wear stockings with sandals. They have light, medium and firm support, but no measurement of the compression of each. I use the medium and they seem to do fine. The firm are really firm and are hard to put on.

Posted by
453 posts

I also have varicose veins. Might try something less constricting next time. Will check with the doc. I do remember using some while pregnant and they were so tight! Can't imagine that on a plane.

Posted by
238 posts

Crazy as it sounds...I finally found that barefoot on the plane was best for me. I brought along a mini Gold Bond powder (thank you, Marie, from this forum for the tip on the powder) and rubbed it into my feet so they would not smell. When I stripped down to bare feet I noticed almost everyone around me within 4 rows followed suit and I passed around the Gold Bond. I find that driving barefoot is also best for me. I know I am digressing and I know barefoot might not be an option for some people on a long flight but I liked it that no one around me seemed to mind and we all seemed to feel like our toes were numb until we got them out of shoes and socks.

I do think the compression socks on the flight over helped with less soreness in my muscles though.

Posted by
10344 posts

I don't know....who here would want to be crammed into an airplane with 300 people who are not wearing shoes or socks, for 12 hours? Or sandwiched between two that have shed their socks for 12 hours. I don't care how much Gold Bond they use. I hope the barefoot thing doesn't catch on. Not in places where 300 people are crammed in for 12 or 15 hours.

Posted by
120 posts

I agree. I would never go without shoes and/or socks. While we cannot alter or really monitor habits of our flight mates, we can hope that some behavior is not too off the wall.

I do not have issues of sweating or swelling. Flying mostly domestic, I have not witnessed anyone removing all foot coverings and going natural. But, I have noticed one or two passengers remove shoes and put on slippers or ballet type flats. I think going barefoot in public places (except maybe the beach - even that can be iffy) will or can expose you to a lot of yucky things.

As most know, Gold Bond is a medicating, cooling and absorbing powder. When sprinkled in shoes or in areas of possible chafing, it can help temporarily relieve the minor irritations.

Posted by
453 posts

I wear crocs at home, and wouldn't mind taking a pair to slip into on the plane, but I wouldn't go barefooted. I don't even like walking in hotel rooms barefooted.

Didn't know that about Gold Bond powder. Thanks.

Posted by
507 posts

Back to compression socks . . . I get mine from www.discountsurgicalstockings.com. I have found their prices to be the most reasonable.

I purchase Value Brand unisex athletic stockings ($12.95/pr) that are knee-high. These socks have a large toe box.

I wear them per dr's orders since a bout with blood clots AND to PREVENT deep vein thrombosis. They are medium compression (15-20 mm). You can order according to calf measurement or shoe size. Being the toe box is large, the toes are not compressed. My blood pressure does not rise. I wear compression socks during the tours, also.

Bon Voyage!