Wild Swimming With Raynaud’s Disease

What is Raynaud’s and how does it affect the fingers and toes of wild swimmers and should wild swimmers wear neoprene gloves and socks to help?

Raynaud’s disease, also known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, is a condition that causes the fingers and toes to become numb, tingly, and pale or blue in response to cold temperatures or emotional stress. This is due to the small blood vessels in the extremities narrowing, restricting blood flow.

How Raynaud’s affects wild swimmers:

For wild swimmers, who immerse themselves in cold water, Raynaud’s can be a particular concern. The cold water can trigger an attack, leading to the following symptoms:

  • Numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes
  • Discoloration of the fingers and toes, turning white or blue
  • Pain or prickling sensation

These symptoms can be uncomfortable and even painful, and can also make it difficult to swim safely.

Why wild swimmers should wear neoprene gloves and socks:

Neoprene gloves and socks are essential gear for wild swimmers, especially those who suffer from Raynaud’s. They help to:

  • Insulate the fingers and toes: Neoprene is a material that is good at retaining heat, which can help to prevent the blood vessels from constricting in cold water.
  • Improve circulation: The gentle compression provided by neoprene gloves and socks can help to improve blood flow to the extremities.
  • Maintain dexterity: Unlike some thicker gloves and socks, neoprene gloves and socks allow for a good degree of dexterity, which is important for swimming safely.

Additional tips for wild swimmers with Raynaud’s:

  • Warm up before swimming: Do some light exercise or stretches to get your blood flowing before entering the water.
  • Gradually enter the water: Avoid jumping straight into cold water. Instead, wade in slowly to allow your body to adjust to the temperature.
  • Limit your swim time: Start with short swims and gradually increase the duration as you get used to the cold.
  • Use A change mat: Use a mat to protect your feet when you exit the swim. 
  • Dry off and warm up quickly after swimming: Get out of your wet clothes as soon as possible and dry yourself off thoroughly. Wrap yourself in a warm towel,  blanket or dryrobe and drink a warm beverage.
  • Talk to your doctor: If you have concerns about swimming with Raynaud’s, talk to your doctor for advice.

By following these tips, wild swimmers with Raynaud’s can still enjoy the benefits of cold water swimming safely and comfortably.

Check out our articles on the best swim gloves, best swim socks, dryrobes and changing mats. We also have articles on ice swimming and cold water swimming more.

Enjoy your adventures.

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