A dream hotel, impressive places, great food, interesting people – you hear that a lot when travellers tell you about their holidays or business trips. However, nobody talks much about the journey to the destination or back home. No mention of crowds or traffic jams, sitting down for long periods, limited space, tense muscles and painful legs. On journeys to far-away destinations, whether by plane, car, train or bus, the body often reacts with warning signs. Find out how to prevent health risks such as traveller’s thrombosis. We have collected a large amount of information and practical tips that can make long flights and journeys easier for you – on holidays as well as business trips.
Travellers are drawn out into the world. But neighbouring countries are also very popular.
These days, it’s completely normal for holiday-makers to fly to the US, Mexico, Cuba, Thailand, Bali, Hong Kong – even to places like Dubai just to go shopping.
Business travellers are just as likely to find themselves in China, South America or India for work. Even within Europe, the urge to travel remains strong. Efficient transport connections and familiar local structures make it easy to travel to neighbouring countries – whether it’s to the seaside, the mountains or one of Europe's fascinating metropolises.
Is this still good for our health though? Serious medical conditions such as traveller’s thrombosis are not the first thing that comes to mind.
In addition to planes, cars and trains, coaches are becoming increasingly popular.
Millions of passengers use this cheap and flexible way of travelling to reach destinations throughout Europe. The largest company currently connects 1,400 cities in 27 countries – and this number is growing almost daily.
Long flights and journeys: travelling becomes exhausting and can even be a risk to your health.
Dream destination – perhaps, but the journey there can be a real nightmare. This is particularly true when you’re travelling for many hours and limited room between the seats doesn’t provide enough space to properly stretch out your legs. Sitting for extended periods with bent legs isn’t just a test of your patience – it is also a risk to your health. Traveller’s thrombosis is one of those risks. A lack of movement can be particularly problematic in planes, with their low cabin pressure and dry air. Under these conditions, circulation is impaired more quickly than on the ground.
The first warning sign that your body is struggling with the long journey is heavy legs. Fluid can accumulate and, by putting pressure on the tissue, hinder the return flow of blood. In extreme cases, a blood clot can form, blocking the vessels – traveller’s thrombosis occurs, also known as “Economy Class Syndrome.” The worst thing is: symptoms may only occur after you are back from your trip – days, sometimes weeks later.
You’re watching an exciting film on the in-flight entertainment system, food and drink is served to you at your seat – this means travellers often stay seated without moving for hours on end and don’t even realise it. If this happens, fluid can accumulate in the legs and, by putting pressure on the tissue, hinder the return flow of blood. In rare cases, a blood clot – known as a thrombus – forms on the wall of the vein and blocks the vessel. If this blood clot becomes detached, it can travel as far as the lungs and cause an embolism with severe organ damage.
What happens in the legs with traveller’s thrombosis?
The veins in the legs have to pump blood from the lowest part of the body to the heart, against gravity, 24 hours a day, for an entire lifetime. The “skeletal-muscle pump” of the leg muscles, also referred to as the “calf muscle pump”, performs the most important function in returning the blood to the heart. When the legs are moved, the muscles in the lower leg contract, acting like a natural pump which transports venous blood from the legs back up to the heart. If this pump is deactivated by extended periods of sitting in a plane, coach or car, venous blood may accumulate in the veins, inhibiting the flow. After a while, this backlog becomes apparent in the form of “heavy” or “swollen” legs.
Professor Karlheinz Peter, Cardiologist and Deputy Director of the Baker IDI Research Institute in Melbourne/Australia, warns of the dangers of traveller’s thrombosis: “Any flight above four hours is a risk. Flights that take longer than twelve hours are the most problematic.”
Watch out for these symptoms
Symptoms of a traveller’s thrombosis can vary widely and don’t all have to occur together. That is why it is not always easy to recognise. Watch out for the following warning signs in your legs – even if you have long completed the flight or journey:
If a thrombus forms in the superficial veins, this is usually accompanied by inflammation. One possible symptom of a superficial vein thrombosis is hardening or reddening of the affected area. Tenderness may also arise. If you suspect thrombosis, consult a doctor immediately!
Who is most at risk?
High-risk groups for traveller’s thrombosis include the elderly, those who are overweight and pregnant women. People who have previously suffered a thrombosis are also at risk, as are patients with venous disorders such as varicose veins.
We recommend travel compression stockings for everyone on long journeys. They provide relief to veins and can prevent fluid accumulation, therefore counteracting traveller’s thrombosis. Compression stockings from Juzo are effective because of their perfect fit and maximum wearing comfort. You can feel the benefit immediately. Juzo has been an expert in this field for more than 100 years. Using this long-standing experience and working in close collaboration with doctors and therapists, Juzo has developed a product range of compression stockings that covers all of your needs. This extensive selection from Juzo includes everything from transparent to opaque styles and from below-knee stockings to pantyhose.
Support stockings ...
... look like standard stockings at first glance. This type of stocking supports the legs with gentle compression and is therefore ideally suited to travellers with healthy legs who don’t suffer from venous disorders.
Compression stockings ...
... are used in daily, medically effective compression treatment of the legs. They have a defined pressure gradient that reduces congestion in the legs and improves blood flow to the heart. They are used for venous disorders and are categorised in compression classes. The knitted fabric of the compression stockings is thin and fine. The Juzo product range includes many individual designs and modern colours that can be easily combined with any outfit.
Thanks to its particularly fine microfibre knit, the Juzo Soft medical compression stocking allows perfect moisture transport – even under extreme weather conditions at your destination. The distinctive ribbed structure of the sporty models not only ensures a special look, they also feel light and smooth on the skin. They are specially designed for active people and suitable for sporting and outdoor activities, as well as adventure holidays thanks to their durable structure.
From reliable and durable to individual and trendy – you're sure to find your favourite stocking at Juzo. This range of products is ideally suited to travelling:
How you can reduce the risk of thrombosis:
before the journey
During the journey
After the journey
Finding seats with more leg room: most airlines offer seats with more leg room. They usually have a minimum of ten centimetres of additional space. Some of these seats are located in the emergency rows. The exact location can be found in the seating plans for each aircraft type on the airline's website.
The additional charge is worth it on long-haul flights in particular – but remember to book early. Reserving a seat is usually possible for coach trips as well. For a small charge, you can get a seat with a table, for example, or upstairs in the front row of a double-decker. Here, too, it's worth studying the seating plan of the respective coach and booking early.
On-board exercises – four activities to keep your legs fit and prevent traveller’s thrombosis
You can do all of these exercises sitting in your seat.
Lift your heels and push your toes into the floor to increase tension in the calves. Then transfer your weight to the heels and push them into the floor. Repeat several times.
Lift your feet and make several circles both ways.
Alternate lifting the right and left knee. Swing your foot back and forth in the air, keeping your knee static. Repeat as required.
Place your feet in front of you, slightly apart. Shake out your legs.
If the journey should take a little longer ...
As breathtaking as the destination may be – sitting on the plane for ten or more hours can quickly turn into an ordeal. Better to know how to use this time in a meaningful way and keep fit.
Two very popular means of transport – the coach for low prices and multiple connections, the train for comfort and speed.
For some people travelling by car is stressful, for others it means pleasure. No irritating fellow travellers, great entertainment and the food you like and want.