Get Moving While You're Traveling to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis

Get Moving While You’re Traveling – Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis

Keep the Blood Flowing to Help Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) During Travel

If you travel frequently or have a long trip coming up, be sure to keep on the move even while you’re sitting.  Whether traveling by plane, car, train, or bus, sitting motionless for long periods puts some travelers at risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  The good news is that with a few simple precautions, you can reduce your risk of this potentially dangerous affliction.

Dangers of DVT

A condition in which a clot, or thrombus forms in a deep vein of the thighs or lower leg, DVT can affect anyone, but is most prevalent in adults over 60.  When the clot develops it blocks the blood flow and causes pain and swelling.  If a part of the clot breaks free, it can move through the bloodstream and lodge in other parts of the body such as the brain, heart, or lungs.  This is called an embolism.  Depending on where the embolism lodges, severe damage and even death can result.


Sitting without moving for long periods may lead to inadequate circulation of blood, thus causing a clot.  Other conditions that alter blood flow or normal clotting also puts some people at a higher risk for DVT.  These risk factors include a prior DVT, some heart diseases, cancer, smoking, pregnancy, older age, and certain medications such as birth control pills and related hormones.


The best way to avoid DVT is to keep moving.  Moving your legs often during long trips or periods of sitting is perhaps the best preventative action you can take.  Ankle circles, knee bends, and thigh lifts are all movements you can make right in your seat.  If you’re on a plane , train, or bus, get up and move during the travel.  When traveling by car, be sure to stop periodically, get out of your vehicle, and walk around for a few minutes.  The goal is to keep moving to keep blood flowing properly through your legs.  This movement decreases your risk of DVT significantly.

Another suggestion supported by clinical evidence is to wear compression socks, support hose, or tights while traveling. These items help to improve circulation, which is vitally important in reducing DVT occurrence.   This is especially important if you have any of the associated risk factors for DVT.

Just remember, as you’re traveling for long periods, or doing anything that requires sitting for extended periods, be sure to move your feet and legs.  Get moving and keep the blood flowing to help prevent DVT.

Originally published in the “Ask the Expert” column of Asheboro Magazine.

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