17 October 2018
If you’re always being bugged by chilly fingers and nippy toes on your winter adventures, you may be making a few common but easily remedied errors. Read on for some toasty tips for warm hands and feet this winter.
For fingers and toes, fleece and wool are your best friends, but cotton is your enemy. While cotton gets wet quickly and stays that way, wool and fleece are both hydrophobic and hydroscopic, meaning that they both repel and absorb moisture. This means they pull moisture away from your hands and feet and then allow it to evaporate more quickly. And, unlike cotton, wool and fleece keep you warm even if it gets wet. Wool is also naturally antibacterial, so woollen socks ensure your feet stay smelling sweet, not sweaty.
When it comes to socks, thicker doesn’t necessarily mean warmer. That’s because, if you wear socks that are too thick for your shoes, this can actually restrict circulation to your feet, making them colder. When buying socks, check that they fit the shoes you plan on wearing them with. You should be able to wiggle your toes freely inside your socks and shoes.
The right fit is also crucial for gloves. Gloves that are too large or too small simply can’t do the job properly. Gloves should be snug, but not too tight, around your fingers, with a tiny gap at your fingertips to allow your hands to move freely.
For the toastiest toes, try wearing a pair of thin liner socks underneath your woollen ones. Thin glove liners are also a great way to add extra warmth in icy conditions and extend the temperature range of your outer gloves. Because they’re lightweight, they don’t hinder movement, so they also allow you to keep your hands protected when you have to remove your outer gloves. And, if your main gloves happen to be on the large size, a pair of liners can solve this problem, too.
Foresee the freeze
Don’t wait until your fingers get cold before putting on gloves. Put your gloves on before you go outside, or as soon as the temperature starts to drop. Your body uses more energy heating you back up than it would to maintain a constant temperature. Also, most thermal materials work best when keeping you warm, rather than warming you back up once you’re cold.
Hurray for hot drinks
Drinking a warm beverage like tea or hot chocolate can provide a lingering boost in body temperature and help to distribute your body heat more evenly. However, avoid drinking coffee or other highly caffeinated drinks. Caffeine limits blood flow, so can actually make things worse. Get a good thermos flask or travel mug so you can keep your favourite drink handy and hot.
Exercise your extremities
Sitting still is the quickest way to let the freeze in. Any kind of exercise will boost blood flow, but it can be especially helpful to do specific exercises aimed at your extremities. To warm your hands, do a couple of minutes of arm swings. Swing each arm in a circle as though throwing a cricket ball.
For a quick and effective foot warm up, sit in a chair and use the big toe of one foot to write the letters of the alphabet in the air, moving only your foot and ankle. Repeat on the other side. After a couple of rounds, your toes should be twiddling happily again.