Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Compression stockings for long-distance travel?

Image: Thinkstock

Compression stockings may prevent lower leg swelling.

Q. My lower legs tend to swell when I take long plane trips. Would compression stockings help?

A. Compression stockings are elastic, below-the-knee socks that gently squeeze your calves. They can help prevent swelling in the foot, ankle, and lower leg that often occurs during any period of prolonged sitting—not just in planes but also in buses, trains, and cars. Your leg muscles don't contract, which normally helps push blood back toward the heart. As a result, blood and fluid tend to pool in the lower legs.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »