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  1. #1
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    CircuLation and my cold hands

    I find that my hands and toes get colder faster than others'.
    They have always been this way, and even with thick gloves i have problems.
    I wonder if i have poor circulation there.

    Anyone else like this? Any possible solutions?

  2. #2
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    You need to make sure that your gloves/ shoes aren't too tight. In winter it's a good idea to go with a little larger size gloves/shoes to give you a little bit of room to wiggle... if they fit too tight they will restrict your circulation. If it's very cold then two pairs of gloves may be neccessary, one thin and one thicker. Winter warmth is all about layering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    You need to make sure that your gloves/ shoes aren't too tight. In winter it's a good idea to go with a little larger size gloves/shoes to give you a little bit of room to wiggle... if they fit too tight they will restrict your circulation. If it's very cold then two pairs of gloves may be neccessary, one thin and one thicker. Winter warmth is all about layering.
    they're definitely not too tight. i've also tried different sets of gloves. i read in another thread that adding a "vapor barrier" layer might help, but i'm not keen on wearing surgical gloves under my gloves.

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    http://www.medic8.com/healthguide/ar.../raynauds.html

    You probably have Raynauds. Welcome to the club :-). You'll need much thicker and warmer gloves and boots than the rest of the population.

    Try not to get chilled if you can help it, numb fingers are my first sign of being chilled. Don't let it stop you though. Some people take high blood pressure meds to help. I didn't like the side effects and just deal with it.

  5. #5
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocky rode View Post
    http://www.medic8.com/healthguide/ar.../raynauds.html

    You probably have Raynauds. Welcome to the club :-)
    I have Reynaud's too. You don't want to know the official diagnostic test protocol was 20 years ago, BTW.

    I was many years on calcium-channel blockers. It helped a little, but not much. I quit them several years ago. Amazingly, since I started cycling, I've seen a tremendous decrease in symptoms. It's almost to the point where I think I'm about average. I still have problems sitting in cool rooms, but out on the bike, I no longer have any issues--at least down to the single-digits (F), or minus double-digits (C).

    One thing I always look for in cycling outerwear is wind-blocking. I have wind-front gloves, wind-front tights and my jacket is wind-blocking. Below freezing I double-glove, wearing long-fingered summer-weight cycling gloves inside a larger than usual pair of wind-front cycling gloves. I also use winter cycling boots below freezing.

    Another thing I had to learn was to relax my death grip on the bars. That causes vasoconstriction. It's much easier to keep my hands warm with a nice, loose, relaxed grip.

    It took me a couple of winters to get over my knee-jerk reaction to cold by bundling up. Doing that always caused me to sweat through my layers. That's when the real cold sets in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Another thing I had to learn was to relax my death grip on the bars. That causes vasoconstriction. It's much easier to keep my hands warm with a nice, loose, relaxed grip.
    This is pretty important for me as I never have any problems with my feet and toes (or my head as long as I wear a tuque) but my hands are always a trouble area. My solution when they get cold, is to bunch my fingers together in a fist until they regain circulation, alternating one hand and then the other, whenever I can afford to relax my grip on the handlebars.

    On the positive side, my hands get so cold that I don't suffer more when any other part of me is cold too
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    I have Reynaud's too. You don't want to know the official diagnostic test protocol was 20 years ago, BTW.

    I was many years on calcium-channel blockers. It helped a little, but not much. I quit them several years ago. Amazingly, since I started cycling, I've seen a tremendous decrease in symptoms. It's almost to the point where I think I'm about average. I still have problems sitting in cool rooms, but out on the bike, I no longer have any issues--at least down to the single-digits (F), or minus double-digits (C).

    One thing I always look for in cycling outerwear is wind-blocking. I have wind-front gloves, wind-front tights and my jacket is wind-blocking. Below freezing I double-glove, wearing long-fingered summer-weight cycling gloves inside a larger than usual pair of wind-front cycling gloves. I also use winter cycling boots below freezing.

    Another thing I had to learn was to relax my death grip on the bars. That causes vasoconstriction. It's much easier to keep my hands warm with a nice, loose, relaxed grip.

    It took me a couple of winters to get over my knee-jerk reaction to cold by bundling up. Doing that always caused me to sweat through my layers. That's when the real cold sets in.
    Good points!!! I agree with pretty much all your input. When shopping for gloves I blow into them while on my hand. If I feel my breath/heat through them I won't buy 'em. For hands I like the big mountaineering mittens with an outer shell when it gets in the 20s F and below. I use Lake MXZ 300 boots two sizes too big and use two to three layers of socks inside. I don't do too much clothing on the torso, no more than anyone else, and less than some to avoid the sweat and wet clothing issue. I concentrate on feet, hands, and head.

    Nicotene makes the problem worse, alcohol and exercise are supposed to help. So, we need to quit smoking and run from one bar to the next. :-) Or, we could ride to the pub in the next town...

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    My father says your body withdraws circulation from your hands when your body gets cold. Your head is where most heat escapes, and your body will always keep it warm first. So to keep your hands warm, wear a beany. It will keep your body warm, and your body will be less likely to cut off circulation to your hands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Inertianinja View Post
    they're definitely not too tight. i've also tried different sets of gloves. i read in another thread that adding a "vapor barrier" layer might help, but i'm not keen on wearing surgical gloves under my gloves.
    You may find that you need to address a few things that might help. Keep your whole body a little bit warmer than usual but not uncomfortably warm. This will help a little. Some people have higher sensitivity to cold because of genetic differences in where the nerves run in the hand. This can make you hands more susceptable to the cold. You may need to get ergo bars combined with thicker bar tape. Or bars ends with a thick wrap of tape if on a flat handlebar bike. Often the seat is a little too far forward and too much weight is placed on the hands making them more susceptable to the cold. Keep your arms and lower legs warm. This will help keep the hands and feet warmer. Poor circulation problems are perhaps not so easy to fix but doing some of these others things can help some.

    Feet are the hardest thing to keep warm for many so you are not so different. Just more sensitive. Try going with an oversized shoe and in addition to the thick socks put an aerogel foot bed in the shoe. The foot gets cold both from the heat loss from the plastic sole and metal pedal and from pedal pressure which cuts off circulation on the bottom of the foot.

    Going to platform pedals with clips and wearing softer cycling shoes on a larger surface area can sometimes help during the colder months.

  10. #10
    Senior Member KLW2's Avatar
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    In winter I have the same problem with hands and feet...I use pogies with wool mittens and winter boots that are one size larger with wool socks. Keep your wrists covered and warm, the vein/artery there is very close to the surface and you really cool your blood quickly..makes a difference. I can easily go to my coldest ride (-32 deg F) for my winter commute and not have any issues...

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    Have you ever been frost bitten? It's common for repeated light frost bites to add up. I'm not sure i would jump on the Raynard bandwagon, that is a fairly specific condition. Some people have poor hand insulation, it is interesting to note that many Inuit people and northern Europeans have higher levels of subcutaneous fat on their hands. It has also been noted that feeling cold and being cold aren't connected, many people are more sensitive to various degrees of cold others freeze with less warning.

    Don't bother drinking alcohol in an attempt to warm up, it will make you feel warm for about 5 minutes then some of your precious core heat will be lost and that is hard to get back.

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    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  13. #13
    Senior Member chrisb71's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AaronTX View Post
    My father says your body withdraws circulation from your hands when your body gets cold. Your head is where most heat escapes, and your body will always keep it warm first. So to keep your hands warm, wear a beany. It will keep your body warm, and your body will be less likely to cut off circulation to your hands.
    this is probably the answer. are you wearing a lighter jacket thinking "my core is warm, it's my hands and feet that are cold"? Many people do this, and the cure it to insulate your core more. Your body is drawing blood away from your hands and feet to heat up your core. So add more core layers or wear a heavier jacket then see how your hands and feet feel. that was the solution for me last winter. And i have chronically cold hands and feet to begin with.

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisb71 View Post
    Your body is drawing blood away from your hands and feet to heat up your core. So add more core layers or wear a heavier jacket then see how your hands and feet feel. that was the solution for me last winter. And i have chronically cold hands and feet to begin with.
    Just add one more light insulating layer and make sure your arms are warm enough. The insulating layer goes under the wind shell and over the wicking layer, of course. That might help your hands too.

  15. #15
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    Hand warmers. The chemical kind, not the burning kind.

    One in each mitten and one in each boot. You will need to have mittens that block the wind and boots that have enough room to hold the hand warmer by the toes. Take a ziplock baggie with to hold them when you get to your destination. They generally last for 8-12 hours, with the zip lock I've had them last 3 days.

    My hands and feet were always cold before doing this, it does not matter how much clothing I have on the rest of the body, the hands and feet get numbingly cold unless there is a heat source with them.
    My Bike: Black 1974 John Deere Men's Racer, with updates

  16. #16
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    Your head is more important than your body. Your head rarely feels cold because your body will do all it can to keep it warm above all else. You lose 80% of your heat through your scalp, especially if you have short hair. I'd start with a beany.

  17. #17
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    thanks to everyone for all the advice.

    i started wearing a thermal cap even when i didn't think i needed one, got liner gloves, etc.
    results are much better. had no idea about the blood being drawn away from extremeties thing!

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