Tired legs? Walk this way for advice on leg care

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By cabincrew.com on Monday 3rd Sep, 2012 at 13:15

Long haul flights can often lead to tired, sore, heavy legs and for many flight attendants, this is just a part of the job that must be endured. Working lengthy shifts and standing for long periods at altitude can take its toll on cabin crew personnel, with aching calves and thighs, stiff knees and discomfort in the feet and ankles all regular pains to bear.

While passengers are seated and immobile for long periods of time during flights and are encouraged to do leg exercises to prevent cramp and Deep Vein Thrombosis, cabin crew on flights are walking the equivalent of several miles, up and down plane aisles, which can take its toll later in the day. Heels can exacerbate the problems too. Some flight attendants admit they experience pain in their legs for several days after a long-haul flight. So what can be done to help?

Via the CabinCrew.com Facebook page we asked you for tips on overcoming leg fatigue and here are the excellent pieces of advice that have come through from the cabin crew community. Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on this. Needless to say, these are just ideas and not guaranteed to delivery instant results, but we thought it would be useful to pass on the suggestions.

“Long haul flights can be stressful on your legs and no amount of painkillers help on some trips,” says Morakinyo. “Having enough rest after a long haul is the best thing to do. And consume a lot of water during the flight.”

Drinking water and resting your legs after flights is mentioned by many people, and airlines recommend these ways to aid recovery for tired legs.

You can make some efforts during flights to help your legs too. Ikrám says it’s a good idea to elevate your legs between bouts of service on a flight, and keep them raised for a few minutes while you breathe deeply and relax. “This relieves a little of the pain and makes your legs feel much better when you’re starting to get tired,” he says.

Massage and reflexology can help cabin crew

Lorna says massage and reflexology are great for exhausted legs, and other complaints that may arise from the cabin crew lifestyle. Reflexology is much more than a foot massage, and is a holistic treatment that focuses on applying pressure to specific reflex points on the feet. It aims to regulate a dysfunction in a system and helps the body to cope with imbalance – so make sure you explain how working life is affecting you, if you visit a reflexologist. Painful, heavy legs and swollen ankles can be tackled by this kind of specialist.

Cabin crew members Moein and Ambee both suggested Thai massage for legs and feet that are struggling after long hours in-flight service. “Thai massage and Tiger balm are a great way to cope with tired legs,” says Ambee. Latoya agrees that massage can make all the difference. See video below for how to deliver a Thai leg massage.

Tiger Balm and Aboliki

Tiger balm and Aboliki are both mentioned by the cabin crew community as having benefits for tired legs.

Tiger Balm is an ointment with a distinctive odour that is designed to treat muscle aches and pains. Applying it creates a feeling of heat in the muscle, encouraging it to relax and easing pain. The ingredients are also supposed to help promote rapid healing. The ointment is believed to include menthol, camphor, clove bud oil, cajuput oil, and mint oil in a base of paraffin or petroleum jelly. These ingredients all create the feeling of heat when they are applied, and some can help to stimulate blood flow as well.

The Tiger Balm® company manufactures a large line of products, including the classic version, an assortment of other ointments and liniments, and cool packs for treatment of inflamed muscles.

Aboliki is produced in Nigeria and has similar properties to Tiger Balm. “I trust my Aboliki,” says Morakinyo, who explains that these products are good for colds and aches and pains.

Make your own leg treatment at home

We’d all love to spend hours at the spa, but for many the costs are too great for regular treatments. So why not give yourself a leg treatment at home? Soaking your legs and feet in warm water infused with healing oils can have a soothing effect on tired cabin crew legs. Some believe doing this regularly can help with headaches too.

Fill a bucket with warm water so that you can cover up to your knees in the water. Add a few drops of aromatherapy oil – lavender, peppermint oil, almond oil are recommended. Stand for a minute or two so that your legs begin to get used to the temperature – don’t have the water too hot! Next, sit down with your feet, ankles and calves still submerged and breathe slowly while the water soaks into your skin. Relax, wiggle your toes and gently flex your calf muscles. After 15 minutes or so, your legs should feel refreshed and hopefully pain free.

Consider your diet

Long term intestinal problems have a direct impact on blood circulation, and so not eating enough fruit and fibre can lead to the problem of tired legs for some people. Of course there are many schools of thought on this, but it’s widely accepted that a diet rich in fibre helps to regulate and balance the entire intestine to function properly. For this reason it is recommended that cabin crew eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and a mix of cereals, as well as staying well hydrated.

Exercise when you can

Being generally fit and healthy will lessen the impact of long periods of time standing and sitting on flights. Although rest and relaxation are vital when you’re not working, there are many long term benefits of doing some light exercise within that – a gym workout, cycling, swimming and yoga are all great ways to improve circulation, boost your immune system and tone up your legs ready for the next long haul flight!

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