A look at what can be done to help runners cope with Raynaud’s phenomenon and the painful numbing of fingers and toes

For some athletes, even the warmest pair of gloves is not enough to ward off the painful numbing of fingers and toes caused by Raynaud’s phenomenon, the mysterious ailment that reduces circulation to the body’s extremities.

Many find it takes a good 30 minutes after running in cold weather for circulation in their ivory-coloured fingers to return to normal. Later, as the fingers begin to warm and change colour, they take on an excruciating pins-and-needles feeling.

Women are more prone to the condition than men and Raynaud’s is known to affect up to 10% of otherwise healthy female athletes. Precisely why is a mystery, although it is known that intense exercise shifts blood away from the skin to the working muscles.

What can be done?

Be prepared

Start with warm hands. Leave your gloves on the radiator before you head out training. Use hand-warmers and wear mittens over glove-liners or thin running gloves.

Layer up

If your body is cold, you are more likely to have cold hands. Wear layers and a hat – you can lose up to 30% of heat through your head.

Try silver gloves

A lot of Raynaud’s sufferers swear by the thermal and heat-retaining properties of silver. Gloves containing silver fibres can be purchased from silvergloves.co.uk.

Have a coffee

A warm drink before you head out can help to heat up your hands. Similarly, placing hands in warm water or warming them gently on a radiator can boost circulation before you head out into the cold. Some experts believe that you can help hands to acclimatise by conditioning them – plunging them into hot and cold bowls of water.

» Need some new running gloves but not sure which to choose? Check out the November 17 edition of AW magazine for reviews of seven of the best