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Fat Ankles from Flying

Do you suffer Fat Ankles from Flying? With both domestic and international flights having become cheaper over the years, more and more of us are flying. Sometimes these trips can be longer than 2 hours, reaching 13 hours for a long-haul flight, which also might be followed by even more flying.  Prolonged sitting, lack of movement, dehydration, pressure on the hips and hamstrings can all contribute to fat ankles from flying.

Sometimes no matter how much you try and move around, swollen ankles can still result.

So, why do we get fat ankles from flying, especially on those long trips? Is this dangerous? How do we prevent it?

Let’s start with why this happens. Whenever we are sitting for a long period of time in a plane, the muscles in our legs that are usually responsible for pumping blood and fluid back up are legs are not being used at all. Over time, this will lead to an increase in fluid and blood pooling in our lower limbs (ankles).

Additionally, on long flights in a low air pressure aircraft cabin, it is easy avoid drinking lots of water. Firstly, the stress of flights sometimes makes an alcoholic beverage a more appealing choice, and secondly a lot of people avoid too much water because they do not want to be getting up and going to the toilets on a regular basis while flying. This makes it very easy to become mildly dehydrated on airplanes. Being dehydrated can reduce your blood circulation, making it that much easier for fluid to pool in your ankles on those long flights.

Is this dangerous? The ankle swelling itself is not dangerous, however the reasons which cause it can also cause things like blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in your calf), which can be seriously dangerous and has the potential to cause death. So although the ankle swelling itself is not a reason for concern, the reasons which caused the ankle swelling is definitely reason enough to take it seriously and take any necessary precautions to prevent it.

How do we prevent it?

  • The biggest thing you can do to prevent poor circulation and subsequent ankle swelling is movement. Aim to get up on a half hourly basis (Assuming you are not asleep) for a walk around the cabin. Aim to be up walking for at least 3-5 minutes each time.
  • It is crucial to stay hydrated. This means drinking water before and during the flights. Even if you are having a glass of wine or a beer, try and also have a bottle of water on the go as well.
  • It is important to keep your feet and legs moving as much as possible even while you are seated. Pump your ankles from side to side and up and down on a regular basis.
  • Some people wear compression stockings while flying to prevent blood clots in their legs. There is evidence suggesting that wearing these stockings can significantly reduce your chance of a blood clot which is great, however it is important to remember that stockings are NOT a substitute for any other of the above precautionary measures, most importantly exercise and frequent movement on a plane.
  • There is research that suggests taking aspirin during your flight slightly thins the blood, reducing the chance of deep vein thrombosis and swelling. However, we strongly recommend checking with your doctor before flying if this is right for you.
  • Holding or placing your feet above your heart is obviously a great way to keep the blood from pooling in your feet and ankles. If you can, see if you can lift your knees and legs up high, placing them on the seat in front of you – obviously trying not to annoy the passenger in front of you. Handstands in the space outside the toilets or galley is also a fun way to get the blood moving – don’t knock over the food cart!
  • After your flight, when finally somewhere you can lie down, put your legs up the wall. This is awesome to drain the legs lymphatic system, encourage oxygenated blood to circulate up the legs and feet.
  • Post-flight massage is also a great way to alleviate any swelling. You could do this yourself, or find somewhere close by that you can walk to.  The gentle practice of just walking will also assist the body in circulating the blood.

Of course if the swelling doesn’t go down and/or you’re feeling any discomfort or pain, visit a health care practitioner as soon as you can. We’re also here to help, either with some specific treatment before or after you fly.  All of our Physios are very well versed in the affects of flying, and are ready to help you make you feel amazing any time you need.

 

A passion for soccer – a quick chat with Charlotte

It won’t surprise you that Barefooters love getting out and about, moving everyday in a way they enjoy. Women’s soccer has really taken off in the past decade, with teams sprouting up all over Brisbane with quite a competitive Brisbane Premier League as a result. If you’ve ever watched a game, you’ll see how competitive and skilful these ladies are.  Our Physio Kirsten recently sat down with Charlotte to find out why she has such a passion for soccer.

 

How did your passion for soccer develop?

I’ve always had a keen interest for all things sport, and kind of just fell into playing soccer when I was young. I guess over time I’ve developed a real passion for soccer, mainly because I love the skill, athleticism and having a great time with other girls on the field.

 

 

 

Sports can have some pretty crazy traditions or pre game routines, do you have anything you do to get ready for a big game?

Definitely nothing too crazy. If I have the time, on the day of a game I like to go out and have a kick of the ball to get some touch. And I always put on my left sock and left boot on first, but I think that’s more just out of a habit. [ha, ha, we definitely think that’s a good-luck superstition! ed.]

 

What is your favourite pre game meal?

Something with bread usually haha, avocado on Turkish bread is probably my real favourite. 

 

You recently went on a trip to New Zealand, where is your next trip going to be and why?

The next big trip on the bucket list is Canada because it looks so beautiful. Closer to home, I’d also really like to go to Tasmania and do some of the hikes down there. 

 

Rapid fire, 5 Fun facts about you 

– I’m a massive Newcastle Knights fan

– I love travelling but I absolutely hate flying 

– My sporting idols are Andrew Johns and Roger Federer 

– I love dogs and have a black Labrador named Ari who hunts bush turkeys 

– I love the beach and in an alternate life would have loved to be a professional surfer

 

We love hearing about Barefooters and what they get up to in their spare time.  Whether you have a passion for soccer or some other sport, we’d love to hear from you.  If you’d like to let us know about what you get up to, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can arrange a quick chat and some photos – email us.  Also, after seeing Charlotte’s pictures and reading her story, if you’d like to get into soccer, you can click this link to Football Brisbane.

…and of course, if you’re injured or just feeling a bit sore and tired from your Barefoot adventures, you can always come and see us: I need an appointment

 

Easy exercises to keep you healthy and active as you age

For many people, aches and pains have become a normal part of their life, especially as they age. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re 7 or 77, pain is not a normal part of life, and should be something that you take seriously. This includes general aches and stiffness from your daily life!

Here are some exercise and body management tips to keep you happy, healthy and moving beautifully through life!

  • Keep moving!
    • Studies have shown people who stop moving are more likely to experience stiffness and pain. Now this movement is a little more than just pottering to the kitchen and back. This means you should be getting out of the house and moving around. Some good activities you could try are; heavy gardening, a half-hour brisk walk, riding a bike for 30 mins or more, team sports, or even dancing!
    • Moving gets the blood flowing and joints lubricated. So not only should this movement help with any pain that you are already experiencing, but it will also help to prevent the onset of stiffness and pain!
  • Deep breathing and muscle relaxation
    • If your muscles are tense, then they are not going to be happy and they will send pain signals to your brain. So how do we relax muscles without going to the physiotherapist or for a massage?
    • Deep Breathing Exercises;
      • Make yourself comfortable (lying down or sitting in a chair)
      • Loosen any tight clothing
      • Start to listen to your breathing in its natural pattern, without changing anything
      • Place your hand on your stomach, and start breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
      • Imagine that you are breathing down into your hands, letting your belly move in and out with your breaths
      • As you breathe out, imagine all your tight muscles are relaxing away all their tension
      • Continue for 3-5mins
    • Regular exercise can also help the back pocket. A few studies have shown in the older population, those who exercise spend less time and money on things such as doctors, and hospital visits…because overall they are generally healthier people.

Lastly, if you are experiencing pain on a daily basis and can’t seem to find relief, make sure you seek help. You can always give your physiotherapist a call, if you don’t have one you can make an appointment with one close by, or book in to see your GP.