Our correspondent Melanie Jonker questioned several walking-related mailgroups about this problem to get theories on causes and how walkers dealt with the problem. The good news is that no walker or their health care provider found this problem to be serious and it always went away soon after completing the walk. If your hand swelling doesn't subside soon after the walk, you should consider consulting your health provider.
Theories on CausesWeather:
- Many walkers say long walks in warm weather lead to hand swelling.
- Some walkers reported the problem more often in cool weather.
- Some walkers thought that higher altitude contributed to more swelling.
Drinking Guidelines for Distance Walkers
Arm Motion (or lack of it): There is some debate on whether certain types of arm motion force more fluid into the hands by "centrifugal force." Walking with your hands constantly below your heart makes it more difficult for the circulatory system to return your blood flow back from your hands.
Racewalking coach Bonnie Stein of Acewalker.com describes "blood pooling." Our leg muscles are working hard during a walk and help return blood from the lower body. Despite this, your feet still swell as much as a full shoe size during a long walk. The arm muscles are smaller and in less use when walking, so they don't help as much in returning blood from the hands. This may lead to the swelling.