Marie asks: "I'm a big hiker, I love being outdoors in nature, especially with my dog - but I have noticed recently that my hands swell whenever I go for a walk. Why is this, and is it something to worry about?"
Hand Therapist Trevor says:
When we set out on a lengthy stroll, particularly in warm conditions, multiple elements come into play:
1. Circulation Adjustment: While walking, your leg muscles are hard at work, prompting your body to redirect blood flow to meet their oxygen needs. This process may temporarily reduce blood flow to your hands.
2. Fluid Retention: Walking prompts your body to hold onto fluids to ensure proper hydration, leading to mild swelling in the hands as these fluids accumulate.
3. Heat and Humidity: Elevated temperatures and humidity levels can increase sweating. While sweating helps cool the body down, it can also result in greater fluid retention and occasional swelling.
4. Influence of Gravity: Extended periods of walking or standing can cause fluids to pool in the lower extremities, making hand swelling more noticeable.
The Solution: No need to worry! Swelling during walks is typically temporary and harmless. To alleviate it, be sure to take brief breaks, stay well-hydrated, and periodically elevate your hands above heart level. Compression Gloves can also offer relief.
Keep in mind that our bodies are incredibly adaptable, and occasional hand swelling during a long walk is just one way they respond to various factors!
If you find that your hands remain swollen for more than a day or so, then contact your doctor to make sure that it is not being caused by a more serious arthritic condition.