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Why Do My Hands Swell When I Run?

Why Do My Hands Swell When I Run?


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If you notice swelling in your hands after a run, no need for alarm. Although why it happens isn't 100 percent clear, swollen hands are not usually a cause for concern. Hand swelling is a common experience for runners and seems to be a result of how your circulatory system deals with the increased demands of exercise.

Causes

Swelling in your hands is most likely due to the way your blood vessels respond to the increased blood flow that occurs during exercise. When you run, your muscles, heart and lungs require more blood. Your body redirects some of the blood that normally flows to your hands to these areas, making them cooler. The blood vessels in your hands open wider in hopes of allowing more blood through, causing swelling. Another factor at work is your body's natural attempts to cool off during exercise. As you heat up, the blood vessels near the surface of your body fill with blood in an attempt to dissipate heat. This may also lead to swelling in the hands. Swelling can also be a result of blood pooling in your arms, which rest lower than your heart and are inactive during a run.

Concern

Abnormally low levels of sodium in the body can manifest as swollen hands. This condition, called hyponatremia, may occur in long-distance runners but is extremely rare. It usually results when you drink too much plain water during training or competition and do not replace electrolytes - specifically sodium - lost through perspiration with sports drinks, tablets, gels or natural sources. Hand swelling is only one symptom of hyponatremia. Look for vomiting, confusion and weakness as more prominent signs of this serious condition that requires immediate medical assistance.

Prevention

While you cannot fully prevent hand swelling, you may be able to reduce it during your run. Occasionally shaking out or circling your arms and wrists helps keep the blood flowing through your limbs. You can also make fists or perform biceps curls without weights as you run.

Precautions

Removing any rings or bracelets will reduce the discomfort of hand swelling while running. You may experience hand swelling from any long cardio exercise in which your hands hang below your heart and are inactive. Walking or even working on the elliptical can cause slight swelling.



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