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Take Aches and Pains Out of Airplane Travel

Simple exercises can stop problems during long flights

FRIDAY, June 4, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- If you have to spend long hours flying for business or pleasure this summer, movement and simple exercises can help prevent aches, pains and more serious problems such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), says the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

"Because of the lack of leg room afforded most airplane passengers, leg cramping, toe cramping and general lower-body aching are typical symptoms experienced by people who fly," former APTA president Marilyn Moffat said in a prepared statement.

"Sitting still for long periods may lead to swelling of the feet, which becomes obvious to many passengers when they try to put their shoes back on at the end of their flight," Moffat said.

The APTA's In Flight Fitness Guide offers simple exercises that passengers can do to keep their blood flowing, their joints mobile and their muscles relaxed during the flight.

These include heel raises, toe lifts, ankle circles, overhead stretches, back twists, curl downs and toe-heel walking.

The APTA recommends you walk up and down the aircraft aisle every hour or so during a flight to work your leg muscles and ease back strain.

"Performing these exercises will keep the leg muscles from contracting and will help relieve stiffness during the flight. The exercises also will help prevent fluid buildup in the legs. Stretching the back and the muscles around the torso will prevent stiffening," Moffat said.

More information

Here's where you can find the American Physical Therapy Association's In Flight Fitness Guide.

SOURCE: American Physical Therapy Association, news release, June 2004
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