My hands and/or feet swell during exercise. Is this normal?
Probably. It is normal for your feet to swell a little bit during exercise—enough to make a difference of about one shoe size, but some people may experience even more swelling than that. Others also experience noticeable hand swelling while running or walking. When this swelling is "normal" (not the result of a medical condition), it will usually disappear fairly soon after the exercise stops, and won’t involve other symptoms. If you experience swelling in your extremities, along with symptoms like pain, redness, and shortness of breath, and/or the swelling doesn't go away within a couple of hours after you stop exercising, you should check with your doctor to see if something else is going on.
There are many possible explanations for this exercise-induced swelling, and in most cases, several factors probably contribute to it. Here are a few tips for minimizing the problem:
Shop for your exercise shoes late in the afternoon or soon after a bout of exercise, when you’re feet will be closer to the size they swell to. If that’s not feasible, get them about half a size larger than your normal shoes.
Take off tight jewelry like rings, watches, and bracelets during exercise.
When walking or running, keep your elbows bent and your forearms parallel to the ground; don’t keep hands clenched in fists, and stretch your fingers every few minutes.
During exercise, rest your hands on top of your head every now and then (when feasible) to elevate them above the level of your heart.
If your exercise session is going to be longer than an hour, and you’ll be sweating pretty heavily, make sure your daily intake of water and salt is balanced. Consider using a sports drink that provides electrolytes for hydration during your long exercise sessions.
Written by Dean Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
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