Thursday, October 1, 2015

Common Exercise Q&A

I often share things with you that I find helpful in my day-to-day life or things that I think might be confusing when it comes to health and fitness. What I haven't done in awhile is share answers to some of the most common questions I recieve. This week I do just that.

What causes hand swelling during exercise? 

According to a 2011 subjective study, almost 1 in 4 individuals (24.3%) report hand swelling after a walking activity.

Exercise-induced hand swelling is often discussed, but a specific cause has not yet been identified. 2 popular, and plausible, explanations for this common, yet unexplained, phenomenon are below.

Increased blood flow
When you walk or participate in any form of activity your body’s natural reaction is to increase the blood flow to your heart, lungs and muscles. It is a normal, physiological response that increasing blood flow to these areas restricts blood flow to the extremities. When blood flow is restricted to a particular area, the blood vessels expand, causing swelling. You may notice that once you return to a resting state the swelling will dissipate as blood vessels and blood flow return to normal. 

The above mentioned study also found that subjects participating in a regular walking program prior to the study reported less instances of hand swelling, suggesting that once your body acclimates to it’s new routine blood flow will become more efficient and swelling may occur less often.

Excess Fluid Collection due to improper body mechanics.Another
2009 study linked hand swelling to improper arm motion forcing excess fluid into the hands by ‘centrifugal force’ or gravity. When you are working hard and your arms are consistently under your heart it can be harder for fluid to escape your hands. 

Unfortunately, there are no proven ways to reduce exercise-induced hand swelling. Some suggestions to manage it are:
  • Practice proper mechanics: swing your arms in a natural motion that brings them above your heart and remember—no fist clenching.
  • Remove rings or tight bracelets or watches prior to your walk.
  • Do occasional arm circles during your walk.
Why is footwear so important?  Stop telling me to get new shoes!

Proper footwear is one of the most important investments you can make. Not only for exercise, but for daily life, especially when we are dealing with arthritis and joint pain. 

Several studies have shown the benefit of proper footwear and/or orthotics on gait, impact and range of motion in lower-body extremities (including the hip). In addition, there is a lower instance of lower-body injury in those wear a properly fitted shoe.  

To find the best shoe for you, visit a running store near you and ask them to observe you walking or jogging. This is normally a free service and they will fit you for a shoe that supports your stride type. This will maximize comfort and can minimize risk of injury.   

When trying on a walking shoe you should never say “oh, I will break it in.” If it’s snug, it’s too small.


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