Yoga for DVT

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is not limited to air travellers; it can affect anyone seated in a confined space for a prolonged period.

Also at risk are people who have varicose veins, cancer, or a history of leg clots, and those who’ve had leg or pelvic surgery or injuries. Others in jeopardy are those who are pregnant, on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, or are dehydrated or overweight.

The good news is that simple movements found in some yoga postures can prevent a clot from forming. Any pose that stretches the calves, hips and hamstrings can be beneficial by helping keep blood properly circulating in the legs. Here are some suggestions.

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From your seat on the plane, place your left foot on your right thigh and your right foot flat on the floor. Lean forward from the hips, keeping the lower back long and open for a modified forward bend to stretch the hamstrings, as well as open the hips and release the back. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 deep breaths. Switch leg positions and repeat.

Next, bend forward from your hips with your legs slightly apart, either gripping the ankles with the hands or just allowing the arms to hang loosely between your bent legs. Hold this position for 10 to 15 deep breaths.

Another great seated movement is uddiyana bandha (upward abdominal lock). Exhale completely and hold the breath out, pull your belly toward the spine, and curl your pubic bone toward your navel, squeezing your sitting bones toward each other. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat several times. This releases pressure on the hamstrings, as well as the sciatic nerve.

A great pose to assist lymphatic drainage and relieve pressure in the back, abdomen and chest is a seated twist. Inhale to lengthen the spine and side waist. Use the armrest to brace the upper body and exhale to slowly twist to one side. Maintain a smooth breath and keep using the muscles of the trunk to assist the lift of the spine. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths and then repeat to the opposite side.

Perhaps the most simple and effective strategy is simply moving the extremities of the body to encourage full venous return and cardiovascular flow. Simply squeeze and release the toes repeatedly and then rotate the ankles. Then squeeze and release the hands and fingers and rotate the wrists. Stretch the arms above the head and hold for 10 to 20 breaths to allow blood and fluid to drain back toward the heart.

Of course, the best way to prevent DVT is to move around as often as possible. If it’s okay to get out of your seat, you can usually find room near the back of the plane for poses like uttanasana (standing forward bend) and virabhadrasana i (warrior pose i) both of which stretch your legs and help keep DVT from arriving at your destination.