Stiff legs, a creaky back, and a generally grumpy attitude often accompany a long trip on an airplane. Yes, the drudgery of hauling a suitcase through an airport and standing in a security line may have an effect, and there is a real physical impact from a long flight that can hamper you ability to run at your best following a big trip. A group of super-fit soccer players were measured for their mood and 30-second sprint ability after a long flight. This may not come as a surprise to any veteran traveler, but their mood and sprint power both dropped for two days following the flight. For any runner traveling to a race or simply looking to have a great workout during a business trip, this drop in performance and attitude makes a big difference.
Compression apparel can play a role in preventing serious medical issues that may occur when sitting for a long time, such as during a flight. In addition to promoting recovery, compressive lower body clothing also helps improve blood circulation during a long stay in a cozy coach-class seat. A group of scientists reviewed nine different studies to determine if compression socks reduced the chance of blood clotting—deep vein thrombosis—during air travel. Their findings were clear—wearing compression socks improved the chances of avoiding a clot. Cardiologist and triathlete, Dr. Alice Perlowski, agrees that the effects of compression can benefit a runner while traveling. “Blood is pooling because you’re not walking around on the plane,” she told Competitor’s sister publication, Women’s Running. The right set of medical-grade compression apparel can help reduce pooling.
Another study helps to explain the effect compression socks have on a frequent flyer. This 2011 study from the peer-reviewed scientific journal Advances in Therapy found that graduated compression socks “enhance venous blood flow” in the lower body when sitting for a long time, such as while traveling to a race. Wearing compression helped cycle blood through the body and reduced ankle and foot swelling.
Before going to the airport, make sure to slip on a pair of graduated compression socks. Your legs with thank you.
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