Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

Cold hands and physiology

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing. Gear Classifieds
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:30 pm

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby climbingaggie03 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:12 pm

geojed wrote:I agree with trekking poles helping hands stay warm due to keeping active. Even in the summer without trekking poles my hands become swollen and heavy/lethargic due to just hanging there but with trekking poles that never happens.

WRT hands being cold I often have the opposite problem. My hands get too HOT and start sweating, especially if there is little-no wind, then I get to the summit where it is windy and my gloves are soaked from the inside and my fingers get cold then due to the wind. That's what happened to me on Spread Eagle Peak last Winter. It's a Catch-22 for me in deep/steep snow, gotta keep gloves on in case I slip and put my hand down in the snow, meanwhile my hands are cooking inside my gloves! #-o

I've found that I am a very "exothermic" person. :onfire:



I have the same problem, I stay super warm and I struggled for years to find a glove system that I didn't soak. My solution has been to find thin breathable gloves. I like thin fleece gloves that aren't windproof and I also like uninsulated shells. If I'm hiking in snow on a nice day, I like to hike in my shells. I downhill ski all winter in lightly insulated cross country ski gloves. My current winter hiking setup is arc terx fleece gloves with REI taped mitten shells. I keep a pair of OR alti gloves in my pack just in case.

To the OP I'd tend to look at your glove system or your other clothing system. The physiology behind cold hands has to do with in the early stages of hypothermia your body shunts blood from your extremities to your core to preserve the vital organs so if you keep your core warmer, your hands should stay warmer. I'm not sure about nutrition, but I wonder if you could find a vasodiolator like nitro or maybe viagra? I kinda doubt you could get anyone to prescribe them for you, but who knows.

User avatar
Posts: 784
Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:25 pm

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby TallGrass » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:24 pm

In motorcycling, the standard adage is "if your hands are cold, you need a(n electric) vest." If your core temp drops, your body will shunt blood flow to your extremities. Likewise, if your core is up, cold hands can be come less objectionable (image putting your hand in icy water in winter versus the icy water of a beer cooler on a 100-degree day). Another thing if you have a pack is to hang your thumbs on the straps for a bit so they are elevated at times.
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

User avatar
Posts: 773
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:58 pm
Location: Louisville, CO

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby GregMiller » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:24 pm

randalmartin wrote:
farcedude wrote:plus you have something insulating inside your hands, rather than just air.
A trekking pole grip isn't insulation, dead air trapped in your Mitten insulation is. Squeezing a trekking pole pretty much eliminates the benefit of that insulation (compressing it).


Two things about this:
1) The handles of my trekking poles are close-celled foam, which as far as I've been able to tell works as a pretty good insulator.
2) Are you using the pole straps? If you use them like you're supposed to (hands up through them, then grip the handle over them), you're supporting your hand with your wrist, rather than firmly grabbing the pole. The vast majority of the time I'm doing less "gripping" than I am lightly holding, and I'm putting weight onto my wrists instead.

(edited to try to sound a little less confrontational)
Last edited by GregMiller on Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Still Here
been scared and battered. My hopes the wind done scattered. Snow has friz me, Sun has baked me,
Looks like between 'em they done Tried to make me
Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'-- But I don't care! I'm still here!
Langston Hughes

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby BobbyFinn » Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:44 pm

Dave B wrote:I've had similar success at bringing my hands back, but can't seem to do it enough to keep them from going away in the first place.


In cold weather, I open a packet of handwarmers when I leave the car or a few minutes before. Then I put them someplace where they will stay warm(ish) and easy to get to - I find that a cold handwarmer isn't very good at giving off heat. Then the moment my hands get a little cold, I can slip the warmers into my gloves/mittens and keep them warm. Also, layers on my hands keep them warm(er) - I wear liners inside my gloves/mittens so that if I have to take my heavier layer off, the liners keep my hands out of the wind.

Also, I've been sweating on my core and my feet and hands have been uncomfortably cold. I don't know if it's true (at least not for me) that a warm core means warm extremities.

Good luck finding a good set up!
Bob
"Mind what you have learned. Save you it can." - Yoda
"Rudeness is a weak person's imitation of strength." - Paul Arel

User avatar
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 5:38 pm
Location: Superior, CO

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby JJJR » Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:51 pm

An old trick I leaned from the Vail ski patrol on a well below zero weekend. No caffeine the day before (constricts blood vessels) and spray hands and feet with something like Arrid Xtra Dry (holds down perspiration). works for me.

User avatar
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:15 am

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby trent » Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:37 pm

JJJR wrote:An old trick I leaned from the Vail ski patrol on a well below zero weekend. No caffeine the day before (constricts blood vessels) and spray hands and feet with something like Arrid Xtra Dry (holds down perspiration). works for me.



This does work.

User avatar
Posts: 1027
Joined: Sat Sep 13, 2008 6:06 pm
Location: Lakewood, CO

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby sunny1 » Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:02 am

You might want to check out Raynaud's Disease:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/raynaud/

May or may not apply to you - you'd need a medical eval.
The older you get, the better you get, unless you're a banana.

User avatar
Posts: 100
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:10 pm
Location: Golden, CO

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby SummitKathy » Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:16 am

sunny1 wrote:You might want to check out Raynaud's Disease:


I have this... so I can sympathize with cold hands :(
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”-John Muir

User avatar
Posts: 154
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:25 pm
Location: Greenwood Village, CO

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby madeinus » Fri Oct 19, 2012 7:39 am

Do you drink a lot of coffee or have you ever smoke cigarettes? Both of those can constrict your blood vessels. My mom quit smoking 20 years ago but she still has really poor circulation in her fingers.

Here's a good article with some different things you can do to improve blood flow into your arms and hands.

http://drbenkim.com/blood-circulation-arms-hands.html

User avatar
Posts: 811
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:34 pm
Location: Thornton (CO Blvd & 136th Ave)

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby SilverLynx » Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:38 am

I have really cold hands, too. I'm not really sure why. It can be 80 degrees outside and my hands and feet are very cold. I am a caffeine addict which may have something to do with it, and I have a tachycardia/SVT condition which may be another factor.

My solution in the winter time is to wear Black Diamond liner gloves under very thick insulated Dakine mittens. If it's really cold outside I put handwarmers inside of the mittens before I start hiking, in the space between the outside of the liners and inside of the mittens. I also have to remind myself not to let my hands ever get too cold because it takes forever for them to warm back up again. Preventing a problem is a lot easier than solving a problem once it has begun. If they start getting too cold, I will try to warm them up by making a fist for a long time and not gripping my poles, or clapping. It seems to work most of the time. I also have to remember not to leave my hands outside of the mitts for too long when taking photos.
"Find out who you are and be that person. That's what your soul was put on this Earth to be. Find that truth, live that truth and everything else will come."
~Ellen DeGeneres

"The only journey is the one within."
~Rainer Maria Rilke

User avatar
Posts: 613
Joined: Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:14 am
Location: Golden

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby madbuck » Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:11 pm

This is funny, I looked into this a little bit last year...my hands have also gotten unusually cold when hiking/climbing/skiing at times (compared to the rest of my body and feet), but especially when running in cold-but-not-that-cold (upper 20s/shade) temps when my core is plenty warm. I also have these thin cotton gloves (almost like gardening gloves) which seem to make my hands feel colder than not wearing anything at all, so I was thinking along the lines of perspiration. That suggestion about antiperspirant seems interesting.

I even looked for similar tips last year and came across the holding-snowballs thing. It seems to be an acclimatization thing, but on that I've seen different opinions: some say that we adapt physiologically to heat but not cold. Even if that were true, I would argue it's semantics: losing unnecessary hot-weather acclimatization mechanisms that are disadvantageous in the cold (e.g. dilated vessels for cooling) would be a helpful adaptation.
So with that in mind: are your symptoms similar throughout the season, or worse in the beginning? Also, do you do a fair amount of working out indoors (ugh) during the week? That would suggest acclimatization factors under your control.

I eat garlic anyway (didn't see an affect), another possibility I haven't tried might be niacin.

I suspect that the symptoms you and others observe, combined with the existence and fairly high prevalence (for an inherited disorder) of Reynaud's and the fact that it doesn't threaten longevity or fertility (and may have had nearly no impact historically in tropical populations), combined with the fact that Reynaud's hasn't been associated with a single genetic cause (we would've found it by now); suggests that vasodilation in the hands has a complex genetically-influenced mechanism with a spectrum of efficacy in the population, that can't fully be influenced by acclimatization/training.

Let us know if you find a good answer!

User avatar
Posts: 1374
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:44 pm

Re: Cold hands and physiology

Postby Dave B » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:20 am

madbuck wrote:I suspect that the symptoms you and others observe, combined with the existence and fairly high prevalence (for an inherited disorder) of Reynaud's and the fact that it doesn't threaten longevity or fertility (and may have had nearly no impact historically in tropical populations), combined with the fact that Reynaud's hasn't been associated with a single genetic cause (we would've found it by now); suggests that vasodilation in the hands has a complex genetically-influenced mechanism with a spectrum of efficacy in the population, that can't fully be influenced by acclimatization/training.

Let us know if you find a good answer!


This is interesting. I've only looked into Reynaud's superficially, but this is good information.

Several people asked about smoking/caffiene. I was a heavy smoker for 10 years, but it's been nearly 3 since I quit. I drink a small, but strong, cup of coffee daily, but intake no other caffeine. I might give the no coffee thing a try, but in reality the headache and malaise from skipping coffee is 10 x worse than cold hands.
"There is no cheating in climbing, only lying." - Semi-Rad

PreviousNext

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests