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Why Do Hands Swell When Hiking

why do hands swell when hiking

Have you noticed your fingers become puffy when you are hiking? Most hikers experienced puffiness and swelling of hands to the point that they cannot get their rings off.

Maybe you are wondering why do hands swell when hiking. Do not panic. It’s strange, but there is an explanation for this.

After thorough research and long hours of studying, we come up with the reasons why hands swell when hiking. You may read further below.

Why Hands Swell When Hiking?

We all know that hiking is a form of exercise and a stress-free activity. Although, some people simply like hiking as a hobby.

Hiking is a powerful cardio exercise that reduces the risk of heart disease and enhances blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Also, hiking is a weight-bearing exercise and boosts the density of the bones.

According to Mayo Clinic and Healthline, when you exercise the flow of your blood increases in your heart, lungs, and muscles. Hence, it reduces the blood flow to your hands and makes them lukewarm or cooler. Then the blood vessels in your hands react and make your hands expand or swell.

Another reason is when you are hiking, your muscles produce heat and push blood to the vessels that are near your body surface or to your skin and then vanish the heat. The fluids are then discharged out of the vessels resulting in perspiration that leads to the swelling of your hands.

This condition is known as exercise-induced peripheral edema or simply edema. The cause of edema is the decreased supply of blood to the hands and even to the legs. Other causes include exposure to high altitudes or heat, which is common when you hike.

Another cause of edema is fluid imbalance. If you are hiking in hot weather, the skin blood flow, and regulation of body temperature will suffer.

If one instance, you have a fluid imbalance or have consumed much fluid to cool yourself, this may result in edema, which is having excess fluids that are trapped in tissues and skin.

Do not be alarmed as edema is not a complicated condition. Once you are done hiking, your hands will be back to normal. Meanwhile, there are ways to prevent your hands from swelling or from this edema condition.

How to Prevent Swelling of Hands?

how to prevent swelling of hands

The following are some ways on how you can prevent your hands from swelling when you hike. You may do the following before you hike or when you are already walking.

1. Rest for a while

Take a break from time to time while hiking. Then, move your legs and arms in half-circle motions to heighten the flow of your blood. This prevents your hands from becoming puffy.

2. Use a stick or a hiking pole

To increase the blood flow in your hands and legs, you may use a stick or a hiking pole. When you hold or grip the pole, or stick, your muscles in your hand activate thus, increasing blood flow preventing hand swelling.

Besides, walking or hiking poles can increase oxygen and your heart rate. Hence, this facilitates blood flow to your body.

3. Raise or bend your arms

You may stop walking for a while and then raise your arms above your head. You may do this often till you reach your destination. Or you may bend your arms by holding your thumb or the shoulder straps of your backpack.

4. Make your hand muscles work or activate them

Let your hand muscle work by swinging it as you walk or hold a bottle and just flutter while walking. You may also squeeze your hands into your fist and release them from time to time. It will improve the blood flow of your hands.

5. Remove rings and loosen wristbands

The rings can limit the blood flow in your hands. It is best if you remove them before you start hiking.

Besides, when your fingers become puffy while walking, you will have a difficult time removing your rings, and they may become tight too.

Also, loosen your wristband or wristwatch to prevent restriction of blood flow. Also, you may wear your band or watch higher on your forearm or wrist to detect well your heart rate.

6. Have proper water intake

You must carry water or other fluids when you hike. When hiking and exposed to heat, you need to drink fluids like water or a sports drink, especially if you are walking for a long time. But, do not drink excessively, as this may result in fluid imbalance.

Also, if you can boil water in the camping area you may do so. Drinking a cup of hot water or two cups may enhance your blood flowing.

7. Find a cool area

While hiking and you notice your hands are swelling, find a cool area and rest for a while. The hands become puffy too in hot weather. Resting in a cool place may reduce the swelling of your hands.


We usually prepare before a long hike or a short hike. If you notice the swelling of your hands persist, even after your hiking, then you may consult a medical practitioner for a diagnosis.

However, you can avoid this hand swelling by following some preventions mentioned in this article why do hands swell when hiking. We hope that this can help you enhance your hiking and keep you safe while walking. To a more enjoyable hiking ever!

If you have any ideas about this topic, you may feel free to share them. Simply, write them in the comment box below. Indeed, we will appreciate them.

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