Flying can cause discomfort

Flying and your joints


Miles of walking, often pulling heavy luggage, juggling trollies and children and buggies . . . the endless standing in queues. Remind me at what point we thought this was going to be a good idea?

If you’ve already got a bad knee, ankle, foot or arm the miles of walking, lifting and getting banged by someone’s suitcase won’t help.

  1. Wear a bandage or a sling or take a crutch – even if you don’t need it all the time at home. This acts as a warning sign to everyone else – give me space.
  2. Ask for help – you don’t get extra points for being a martyr, so if you don’t think your knee will cope with the miles of walking, phone ahead and ask for help!

On the plane

At least we get to sit down right? Hmmm except squashed into an unnatural position and forced to sit still for a few hours isn’t always relaxing.

The air pressure on the plane changes the internal pressure on our soft tissues. We all notice our ears get blocked but something similar happens to your joints. Interestingly this can often feel worse on short flights as there is less time between ascent and descent for our bodies to acclimatise.

Anything that is a little bit swollen or irritated before you get on the plane can become much more swollen during the flight.

  • Choose your seat with care– if movement helps an aisle seat for stretching can be good. But if you don’t want to be knocked a window seat might be safer
  • Gentle Movement – do whatever movement you can while seated, or get up if you can (tricky on short flights)
  • Drink water – lots of water helps the tissues stay soft and reduces swelling. Ideally stay away from alcohol but if you must have a drink try and match 1 glass of water for every alcoholic drink.
  • Wear Compression Garments – not glamorous but a good fitting pair of compression socks can keep a wobbly ankle or knee from blowing up into a problem. You can usually get these at a good chemist.
  • Ask for help – get the air stewardess to help put your bag in the overhead compartment, don’t irritate a grumpy shoulder, wrist or back. They’ll only rearrange it anyway!

On arrival

You’ve made it through the airport, the flight, you’ve got through passport control and wrestled your baggage off the conveyor belt. Then a long drive in an unfamiliar car and driving position to wrestle your luggage upstairs to your final destination!

Now, G&T in hand you suddenly feel a lot worse.

  1. Ice – reduces swelling. Never put directly on the skin so wrap it in a teatowel so you don’t get an ice burn.
  2. Gentle movement – staying too still can make things worse, so a little gentle movement can help. But do take it easy!
  3. No beach massages – they often make things 100 times worse
  4. Get help – if you’re still in a lot of pain after 24 hours, get help! Call a registered medical professional – a doctor, physiotherapist or similar.

And I honestly hope none of this is true for you!

So I wish short queues, close boarding gates, extra leg room seats and most of all, a Wonderful Holiday!!!

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