Why Do Hands And Fingers Swell When Hiking?

why do hands and fingers swell when hiking

Why do hands and fingers swell when hiking? Hands and fingers swell when hiking because of several reasons. When you’re walking, your feet work hard to maintain your balance and push forward. This, combined with the tension in your fingers and the force of gravity, causes the capillaries in your feet and fingers to expand.

Your fingers and hands swell because your capillaries rupture, and blood rushes into them. Your fingers are usually the first part of your body to swell when hiking because they are closest to the ground.

You may also experience swelling in your feet, knees, or hips. The swelling usually lasts for a few hours and goes away.

How to Prevent Hands and Fingers from Swelling While Hiking

why do hands and fingers swell when hiking

There are some simple steps you can take to alleviate the swelling.

1. Stretch your fingers and toes a few minutes before embarking on your hiking journey. As we mentioned earlier, the hike makes your fingers shrink, so you should exercise them in advance to obtain better circulation.

2. Stamp lightly when walking downhill. Pounding down hard can destabilize the position of your feet, causing unnatural strain on your knees. In addition, stamping down might rupture veins easily since they’re expanded underneath shoes while you walk uphill or downhill. These precautions are helpful to guarantee that “pounding” against the feet doesn’t collapse blood cells.

3. Rise as high as you can when walking uphill. As you push down to the ground, the muscles and tendons in your feet expand underneath your shoes; this may cause pain if you’re not wearing the proper footwear.

 When using boots, you also need to remember that the extra toe height exacerbates your risk for swelling.

4. Don’t enjoy yourself until you’ve cooled down after hiking. Your heart and blood vessels experience more stress while hiking uphill and downhill; accordingly, your blood pressure increases which can compromise necessary oxygen in the blood flow (Blood is supplied with a smaller volume of needed oxygen).

See also  What To Do If Bitten By A Rattlesnake While Hiking

However, with cooling down, the muscles relax and receive more oxygen. This relieves some of the strain on your heart and slows down your heart rate, reducing your risk for higher blood pressure. Cooling down techniques include jogging slowly and doing body stretches gradually rather than abruptly.

On top of this, swelling often involves collapsing walls in uncontrolled capillaries, which can be fixed by applying firm pressure or even just resting the foot till it softens naturally (Be careful not to make too much contact because you may hasten bruising.)

When you’re done exercising and moving around during your hike, take a break! If you feel exhausted from walking or standing up over time, get back into position slowly.

Signs of Hands and Fingers Swelling While Hiking

why do hands and fingers swell when hiking

The most apparent sign of swelling in your hands or fingers is swollen fingers. If you notice that your fingers are more significant than usual or experience pain or discomfort while wearing gloves, you may have swollen hands.

Other signs of swollen hands or fingers include:

  • Hand cramps are accompanied by a tingling or painful feeling in your fingers.
  • Blisters on your palms or fingers.
  • Redness in your palms and fingers.
  • Swollen or painful joints with swelling.
  • Sluggishness in your hands, difficulty typing, or difficulty keeping your grip while hiking.
  • Increased sweating in your palms while wearing gloves.
  • Constant aches and pains in your joints and muscles.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks.

Tips for Hiking with Hands and Fingers that don’t Swell

why do hands and fingers swell when hiking
  • Wring out your socks and place your hands in cold water for about 30 seconds after each rest period. This will help reduce swelling by slowing down the blood flow in your hands.
  • If you have swelling in your feet, try wearing shoes with a wider toe box.
  • Apply hair oil or lotion to your hands before putting on gloves to keep them from getting as sore.
  • Wear gloves that provide good hand ventilation.
  • Wear gloves made of soft material and offer good hand ventilation like mitts.
  • Wear gloves made of breathable material, and don’t use them if you’re working on a tent or sleeping pad.
  • Wear gloves while sleeping to protect your sleeping pad from getting scuffed up.
See also  What Do You Need For A Camping Trip?


Our Hands and Fingers an Early Sign of a Problem?

Hand swelling while hiking is not a cause for alarm unless you are feeling discomfort or experiencing other swelling symptoms such as joint pain that comes and goes.

However, if you start overheating on long hikes, hand swelling can become a bigger problem if no steps are taken to manage it properly.

Blisters or cuts on the tops of your hands or fingers are strong indicators of swelling in your hands. Take care of blisters immediately by applying moleskin over them after cleaning the area with soap and water.

Cuts should be cleaned well with antibacterial soap and water and then either bound up with gauze to keep out dirt or antiseptics applied like Neosporin. Self-care can help resolve most issues with hand swelling but contact a medical professional if they don’t improve after getting off the trail.

When you are hiking, there will be times when your mind wanders, and an essential task like putting on a glove becomes difficult. Have Vaseline or petroleum jelly on hand as an alternative solution to prevent blisters if you find yourself in situations where you forget to put on the proper protection for your hands.

What are some of the Symptoms that Can be Confused with Hand Swelling While Hiking?

Symptoms of hand swelling can sometimes be confused with Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion, and Sunstroke symptoms. To ascertain if what you’re feeling is something more severe than hand swelling, carefully note other related symptoms to get a clear picture of any minor problems so that they can hopefully be avoided by taking care of immediate health issues before they become serious problems.

See also  How To Get Back To Your Car After Hiking

Heat Exhaustion happens when your body has fought a lot more heat than it can deal with at once. While still experiencing pain in arctic temperatures, I feel nauseous, weak, and exhausted after activities like hiking strenuous trails.

Sunstroke is worse, and people who develop sunstroke start experiencing serious confusion and feel terrible pain from their muscles downward to their fingers even after trail resting; in contrast, folks suffering from heat exhaustion don’t always experience this.

Sunstroke can also be confused with Dehydration as both are serious health issues, and the symptoms can be similar. However, if you have been drinking enough water and still feel ill, you should contact a physician immediately.

Suppose these symptoms persist while hiking or after your hike. It is best to consult a medical professional as these conditions may require over-the-counter medication or prescription medication to manage them.

If hand swelling is not managed correctly, it could lead to severe problems, so hikers need to know what is expected and what isn’t on the trail and how to deal with any problems that may arise from time to time.


Hand and foot are swelling while hiking is scary and may seem extremely painful. It is manageable, and you can counter it efficiently with these hands-on tips.

Related Posts