We know, we know. We talk about walk breaks and standing breaks all the time. It’s hard to form these new habits. Since more employees have been working from home, there’s a good chance their mobility has decreased. Even if you have an office or desk job, the lack of commute takes away a significant number of steps, from climbing on the train, to taking the stairs, to simply needing to circle the floor to reach the bathroom.
A lack of mobility can increase the chance of blood clot formation, especially if someone is already prone to cardiovascular issues. Clots often form in the lower leg, but they can happen in the upper body, too. The most common type is a deep vein thrombosis, where blood cells clump together in the deep veins in the lower leg or thigh. We see clots after someone has had surgery and they’ve been in the hospital bed for too long.
Clots can be a dangerous predicament, as they restrict blood trying to reach the heart and lungs. Ever hear the term, “throw a clot?” This means a piece of the clot has dislodged and has moved through the blood stream. All veins return to the heart and lungs, which is why clot formations can lead to pulmonary embolism, where the clot in the leg has traveled a long way to lodge itself in the lung.
But whoa! That’s worst-case scenario. Let’s not go there! Prevention is always preferable. Here’s what you can do!
Sitting at your desk on a conference call? Stand if you can. If you can’t, pump your ankles. Point your toes down, then bring them back up. If you’re already standing, do some heel raises; stand on your toes, then lower down. Do as many as you can until you feel fatigue.
Take more frequent walk breaks, even if it’s just a lap back and forth in your kitchen or living room. Some movement is always better than none.
What if you’re on a plane? Wear compression socks and do some ankle pumps here, too.
The more movement from your legs, the easier it is for blood to return to the heart. The veins in our legs work against gravity in order to move blood, and muscles can help this process. Veins don’t contract like arteries do, so they need all the help they can get!
Of course, if you’re worried you have a blood clot or have history of clots, please call your primary care directly. It is always better to be safe than sorry!