Top Tips to Prevent Swollen Ankles on Holiday

Do you love travelling but hate getting swollen ankles?

If like me you have no apparent risk factors, ie no varicose veins, not pregnant and you’re otherwise fit and healthy with a healthy BMI you may be baffled as to why you suffer with swollen ankles on holiday.

The answer is mostly due to how much more easily the blood can get down your legs compared to how difficult it is to get back up.

Blood returning to our hearts isn’t under any real pressure, it relies on the muscles in our legs and feet squeezing the veins to help push the blood back up our legs. So when we’re sat down for long periods of time on trains coaches and aeroplanes there’s not a lot of muscle activity going on. Add to that the design of the seats which often cuts into the back of your legs, that will also slow the rate of blood in your veins. If you also have your handbag on your lap that too can compress the main veins in your legs.

When you go to a hot country your peripheral circulation opens up ‘to the max’, the more blood your body can get to the surface the more you will cool down. So that’s more fluid that needs to make its way back up you legs.

A woman's bare feet showing swollen ankles

So what can you do to avoid swollen ankles? And what can you do if you have them?


Please note, If it’s just one leg affected and you are in a lot of pain you should seek urgent medical attention.

Top Tips for preventing swollen ankles on holiday


  1. wear loose clothing when travelling, make sure trousers are loose at the top of the thigh and behind the knee when you’re seated
  2. Put on a pair of flight socks for long journeys on public transport especially if you know you’ll be sitting still for long periods.
  3. Put hand luggage in the overhead locker to give you more space to move your legs.
  4. Avoid crossing your legs which can also impede the blood flow.
  5. Shoes or sandals with a moulded footbed are good to wear as they help squeeze the veins in the arch of your foot giving the veins in your legs that extra boost when you are eventually able to stand up and move around.
  6. Avoid refined sugar and alcohol, I know you’re on holiday, but those delicious cocktails are usually laced with sugar syrup so try to limit them, perhaps have your favourite spirit with a diet soda instead. Make sure you stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  7. Rest with your feet up when you can, if you can get your feet level with your heart by lying down flat this will help the most. If you find you ankles aren’t returning to their normal shape and size over night wear your flight socks to bed.

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