The Doctor is In
by Janet Simon, DPM
Many of us are preparing for upcoming trips including me. These trips may be day ones, exploring our amazing Land of Enchantment, or others, taking us afar. No matter the travel choice, we need to keep our feet and legs happy.
10 Tips for Happy Feet While Traveling
Avoid leg cramps, blood clots, blisters and other footwear disasters
Stop Leg Cramps
1. Make sure you are hydrating properly. Water is the hands down winner for ensuring your body’s comfort. I am asked several times a day about foot and leg cramps, which a have direct connection to proper hydration. Often when traveling our normal water intake may be disrupted and cramping ensues. When our systems get a little dry and dehydrated the electrolytes that make our muscles work get imbalanced resulting in the cramping. So, first on my recommendation list is to make sure you drink enough water throughout the day.
2. Gently stretch calves prior to bedtime and perform ankle pumps and circles.
3. If cramping continues drink 8-16 ounces of tonic water before going to bed. The quinine in tonic water has a mediating effect on our muscle physiology. I do caution that tonic water does have sugar content, so be watchful if that matters to you. There are “no or low” sugar tonic water options. Please note: Avoid tonic water if you are taking digoxin or warfarin, are pregnant, or have kidney, liver or heart disease.
4.Move your legs and feet at least hourly, more if possible, when sitting for long periods in a car, airplane or train.
This video from the Australia-based Qantas Airline demonstrates some stretching and movement exercises that are easily performed while seated in a small space. Aside from a plane, think train or even in the car. These exercises include the foot pump and ankle roll I recommended for leg cramps.
5. Take more frequent stops while car traveling, allowing short walks and overall body stretches. Airline travels are more challenging as space is clearly limited and getting up and walking around often is prohibited.
6. The use of light compression hose or socks is always recommended for trips greater than four hours in duration. There are many choices for these types of compression and your legs will be much happier upon your arrival at your destination.
Ease Rubbing and Blisters
7. Wear comfortable footwear that is appropriate for the type of activities anticipated during travel. Shoes that are easily adjustable, for example with velcro closures or straps, help address the problems that arise with swelling. Often, slip-on shoes cause rubbing and blistering issues, because these type of shoes do not allow much volume increase. There is no such thing as a tight shoe stretching out. Rather, what is being broken in is the material, such as leather softening.
If you do get blisters, dress with a topical antibiotic and cover with a band-aid. Another helpful blister aide is the 2nd Skin brand of products sold at most sporting goods stores.
Sole Comfort offers several styles of easily adjustable shoes including styles by Wolky and Drew.
8. When traveling outside of North America only wear athletic type shoes to work out. This is one of the known identifying features of Americans and will make you stand out as a tourist. If this means you have to buy new shoes for your trip, plan on enough time to break them in, a minimum of week. Over the course of the break in period, gradually increase the interval of time you wear the shoe. Don’t forget that all shoes should be comfortable from the get go.
9. If you are an orthotic wearer and you keep your orthotics in your athletic shoes, packed inside your checked luggage, familiarize yourself with orthotic replacement insurance. There are separate orthotic policies available from many of the orthotic labs that make orthotics. Check the travel insurance policies for these also may include lost personal items of value.
10. As with any valued item, write down the orthotic production number or at least the name of the prescriber in case you need documentation for filing claims.
More in-flight health recommendations (from Quantas).
Safe travels and remember to share your favorite shoe travel stories with Sole Comfort.