How to avoid blood clots from sitting too long


Sitting for long periods of time puts you at risk for dangerous blood clots in the legs. This occurs in part due to poor circulation, which can happen to anyone through prolonged sitting, whether or not you have other health conditions. One of the most effective ways to prevent blood clots in the legs, also known as deep vein thrombosis, is to get up and move around frequently to keep blood circulating well. When it's not possible to move away from your seat, you can still prevent blood clots by using certain products and exercises.

Wear compressions stockings. These help prevent blood pooling in the lower leg--blood pooling is a big factor in blood clots. Compression stockings and socks are sold for both men and women in many sizes and styles. Look for these online, at medical supply stores, in pharmacies and at some department stores.

Flex and point your toes. According to the NPR article, “Move Around on Long Flights to Prevent Blood Clots,” by Allison Aubrey, this exercise is suggested by Northwest Airlines for passengers on long flights. It is a very simple exercise that can be done anywhere. Simply flex your toes back as far as they will go and then point them forward. Repeat this until your toes tire, and do it at least once during every two hours of sitting.

Bounce your legs. This is another exercise easily be done from your chair at home or on an airplane (although it may annoy the passenger next to you).

Ask your doctor about taking blood thinners if you know you‘ll have to sit for long periods and he believes you are at risk for blood clots.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you aren't sure if you are at a high risk for clots, talk to your doctor before long trips by plane or car. High-risk travelers may need blood thinners.
  • Blood clots can break free from the legs and move to the lungs, creating a pulmonary embolism. This can be fatal.
  • Although people with cardiovascular disease are at a higher risk, blood clots can happen to anyone who is immobile for a length of time.

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