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  • #5927
    Paul Calabro

    I’ve got Raynaud’s, love alpine climbing. It’s a really great combination…
    For those unfamiliar, Raynaud’s is almost like being “allergic to cold.” That’s a dumb-sounding explanation, but basically: hands get cold, then the body shunts blood to the extremities (notably fingers, toes) resulting in numb, cold hands even when your core is cranking heat. Think: the screaming barfies, but before the barfies part, and having the barfies all the time. It’s unpleasant at best, but gets in the way when you’re climbing rock in 45F and your hands go numb (or ice in -10F).

    (1) Has anyone had any luck self-treating symptoms from Raynaud’s? What worked, what didn’t?
    I’ve had luck with acupuncture as preventative maintenance measure. An hour long session biweekly during the winter made a huge difference for my hands. The acupuncturist I saw in Cambridge, MA was familiar with Raynaud’s and had treated patients for it before. Other than that, constant aggressive wind-milling of my arms is the only thing that can help mitigate the effects.

    (2) Scott, in your recent Training Peaks interview about coaching Adrian Ballinger for his supplemental-O2-free Everest climb, you mention observing Raynaud’s-like symptoms in him (and in many other winter athletes in the past), and attributing some of that poor heat regulation to not being very well fat-adapted. Could you elaborate on this? Have you been able to mitigate Raynaud’s-like symptoms in other athletes through diet and training?

    I’d love to hear any / all input from anyone with experience with Raynaud’s.

Posted In: Alpinism

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    Anonymous on #5933


    I have seen Raynaud’s in many winter athletes like skiers and ice climbers who are routinely exposed to cold. It seems to develop as a response to cold and especially if you have had frostbite. I find I personally can get pretty good relief by takin time released Niacin. This is a vasodilators and if taken before you expect to expose yourself to conditions that normally cause the Raynaud’s to flair up will in my experience eliminate the problem. Niacin will cause flushing of other parts of the body and you’ll have to experiment with dosage.


    trygve.veslum on #29297

    I suffering from whimpy hands/feet myself. I`ve seen a few videos on Youtube where they submerge their feet/hands into a bucket of ice cold water until it doesnt hurt anymore (takes about 2 minutes). Ive tried it a couple of times and can report it hurts extremely much, but my hands/feet really deserve that anyway:D

    Wim Hof suggests the very same method actuelly. I havent done it regularly yet so cant tell if it works or not for me.

    mryanfisher on #29960

    Nyt had an article from 1988 about bout a US army doctor who had a treatment that works. Google it for details on number of sessions length of time. I recall they had people strip except for feet and hands and those were warmed in water, dried placed in gloves. then they went outside naked except for cozy wwarm Feet and hands. Basically tricking the body to think the extremities were. Warm so the trunk core must be fine and it would open the blood vessels to hands feet. Eventually the body would not cconstrict hand feet blood vessels at cold contact. Takes some acclimation but worth a shot.

    ferrarock on #46184

    Hi all, in your experience is effective the ice-bucket method? Is it possible to “train” the circulatory system of the extremities? Does someone know further methods for trying to mitigate Raynaud’s symptoms?

    psathyrella on #46297

    With the caveat that it’s important to distinguish between reynaud’s on the one hand, and substandard cold hygeine on the other, I’ve found Scott’s niacin suggestion to work very well for what I understand to be reynaud’s.

    My fingers I think are standard non-reynaud’s — if I don’t keep my core warm at belays, or don’t stop on lead to shake out my hands before they start to go numb, or am poorly fat-adapted and let my blood sugar crash, then I will get numb hands and screaming barfies. But if I am attentive they do ok, and more importantly they warm up quickly when I fix things proactively.

    My toes, though, are different. Mostly first thing in the morning, no matter how many ducks I line up in terms of cold hygeine (boot liners in sleeping bag, hot water bladder in shells, not sleeping dehydrated…), they still get and stay cold in the morning after any winter bivvy situation, all to often forcing me to stop, take my boots off, and warm up my toes against skin. Even if the rest of my foot is warm, the tips of my toes can be icy and numb. I’ve never had even frostnip, but I did spend years cycling in winter rain letting my toes go numb, so… probably my own fault. In any case, the underlying problem does seem to be a physiological refusal to send blood to somewhere I need it, and the niacin seems to do a fantastic job of convincing the blood to go there.

    alpinejoe on #47094

    I found that changing to a whole foods plant based diet really helped alleviate the severity of my Reynaud’s. I had been vegetarian but ate a lot of dairy, and I think eliminating the dairy really helped improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation for me. My hands and feet still get cold relatively easily, but not nearly as easily or as severely, and they recover far more quickly. So much so I’m not sure I would say I have Reynaud’s anymore. I did not eliminate dairy for Reynaud’s, but it was a very happy side effect! (Not trying to push WFPB diet necessarily, but suggesting that diet could have a part to play, and might be worth experimenting to see if eliminating something can help.)

    Mariner_9 on #60063

    I believe the method mrryanfisher mentioned is described here: https://www.raynauds.org/2019/09/26/classical-conditioning-raynauds-therapy/. Unlike the NYT, this one is not paywalled.

    “The Hamlet method is simple. A person sits in a warm room with warm hands. The person then moves into a cold place (ideally 32?F) for ten minutes. They wear only light clothing so that their body definitely knows that they are in a cold place. Their hands are kept warmed to temperatures between 109- and 113-degrees Fahrenheit. The person then comes back into a warm location, and keeping their hands warm, they let their bodies return to a comfortable temperature.

    In Dr. Hamlet’s experiment, this was repeated three to six times on a given day, with a day off taken in-between session days so that a person’s body could rest and internalize this reaction. The experiment called for 50 of the 10-minute sessions.

    All subjects had measurable improvement in finger temperatures of at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit when exposed to cold. Dr. Hamlet reported that improved responses to cold lasted for months to years, and when a subject’s cold resistance began to fade, a reduced number of cold temperature training sessions would be enough to refresh cold resistance levels”

    Turk Estate on #60717

    Thanks! I will try the technique on myself

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