As we neared the completion of our walk yesterday, I noticed my hands and fingers were feeling very tight. Further inspection revealed that they were swollen and turning red. I didn’t think it was my blood pressure since I felt alright, but it had never happened before and worried me a bit.
After getting home and consulting with the ultimate health care provider, Google, I soon discovered that this is normal for many people. Apparently the centrifugal force that results from swinging your arms coupled with an electrolyte imbalance causes the swelling. Thankfully, there have been no serious health complications linked to this problem.
About.com suggests the following for combating swollen hands while walking:
- Remove your rings prior to a walk. Loosen your wristwatch strap and elastic sleeves.
- Carry a walking stick and switch hands while you walk.
- Carry a small object to grip lightly from time to time as you walk: a small foam pad, rubber ball, map, or flashlight.
- Do an occasional arm circle.
- Don’t clench your hands, keep them relaxed and slightly open. Every so often, stretch all of your fingers out for a few seconds and then make a fist. Repeat this several times. Or sort of “play the piano or accordion,” with your fingers only.
- Racewalking coach Bonnie Stein of Acewalker.com recommends using correct arm motion with your arm bent at almost a 90 degree angle and swinging back and forth from a relaxed shoulder, rather than opening and closing the arm at the elbow.
- Play stick-em-up: rest your hands on top of your head for a few seconds to get them above the level of your heart.
- Whenever you are sweating, take care in balancing your water and salt intake.
It is also recommended that you weigh yourself before and after a walk to make sure that you are getting enough liquids. Your weight should remain the same.