As I said, I’ve recently come back from holiday – Thailand mostly. That means two eleven hour plus flights from where I’m based. Now, when you’ve lived in Australia/NZ at a time when most of your family and work clients are based in the UK you get used to flying long haul – in fact, after a while you refer to the nine hour sector as ‘the short bit’. I think I’d done two or three flights with swollen feet when I tried my first pair of flight socks – after that I’ve never flown for more than four hours without them.
My problem currently was that like normal socks flight socks do like to disappear in the wash. For my last few flights therefore I’ve actually been wearing two different brands – one on each leg. As such when I was offered the chance to try a pair of VR Socks from Compression Advisory I leapt at the chance.
These are kind of gourmet socks. You send them measurements of your calf and ankle, and they send you a pair that fits appropriately. Apparently this ensures you get the right compression where you need it. This was most welcome, as one of my last ‘pair’ was getting a bit tight around the top (that’ll be the extra half a stone) and I was concerned that the extra pressure at the top of my calf was potentially causing more problems than it solved – as of course, as well as helping you avoid swollen feet, flight socks may reduce your risk of DVT. In fact, one study has estimated they cut your risk by about a tenth, which is alright by me. I know someone who got a DVT once. Not only was she seriously sick, she then couldn’t fly again for a very long time. This, in my definition of a happy life, is not an option.
These didn’t have that problem, once I’d got them on I didn’t feel them at all. I also got off both flights with feet their normal size. In flight sock world this is known as a resounding success. As an added bonus to the sartorially inclined, they also come in a variety of colours including black, orange, blue and purple. Gossip hounds may also like to know they are the brand of choice for the England Football Squad (oh, someone, PLEASE tell me Rooney has a purple pair).
Years of wearing flight socks have however triggered me to come up with The Five Rules of Flight Socks, so with apologies to Brad Pitt, they are….
1) You WILL talk about flight socks: About three hours into my flight I went to the bathroom and sitting in the galley was a woman with THE most swollen feet I have ever seen. My guess is she’d connected direct from Australia and was therefore roughly 13 hours into her journey. Obviously the crew were equally as concerned as she had her feet propped up above her head and on piles of cold towels. I wanted to wave my lycra shod legs at her and shout ‘buy these for the return, please.’ Seriously, even if you’re not worried about DVT, they stop your feet swelling, they stop that nasty hot prickly sensation, they just make the whole process more comfortable.
2) There will be no kicking, pushing or elbowing: I have tried to put flight socks on in my plane seat – it’s bad. Very bad. Especially if you don’t know the person next to you. They are tight, it’s the whole point. This means putting them on properly requires a lot of pulling, twisting and arm movement – and if you are polite to your neighbour and don’t get them on correctly you will spend the flight feeling it. Do yourself a favour put them on before you get on the plane- or at least in the loo. On a side note, I did find the VR ones slightly easier to get on.
3) Knees are not involved in flight socks: I was a bit confused about this – see the pair I have now actually stretch up over my knees and, because they were measured to my legs I wasn’t sure if that was where they were supposed to end. A quick email to the company though determined that no, they should sit just below the knee.
4) Flight socks do not travel to the toilet alone. They must be worn with shoes. Yes, that puddle on the floor you just trod in may just be water from the basin, but do you really want to spend the next 30 minutes while your feet dry wondering. Pack slip ons (flip flops also do not work with flight socks).
5) Do not solely rely on your flight socks. You do also need to walk round the cabin, do a heap of calf raises that make you like slightly insane, drink plenty of water and keep booze to a minimum. Okay.