If you've ever noticed that your feet look and feel unusually swollen when you're flying, you're not alone. Feet swelling while flying is pretty common, and according to Dan Michaels, DPM, it's due to your feet being down for extended periods without movement. "The muscles in our legs aren't working, and the veins in our lower body need to work harder to get the blood back towards the heart," she explains. "When the blood pools on the veins, it causes swelling—literally, fluid build up—in the legs."
Dr. Michaels suggests walking up and down the aisles in the cabin two or three times. "Standing and walking, as well as light stretching, during a flight wakes up the muscles around the veins to pump harder and help push the blood flow back up toward the heart," she says. In particular, she advises giving the calf muscles a good stretch while you're up. Remember, the calf muscle is the biggest muscle in the legs, so stretching it will be most effective in helping reduce foot swelling while flying.