February is Raynaud's awareness month. Along with many members of the wild swimming community one of our Find Your Freedom adventurers Lucy regularly suffers with attacks of the condition.
Lucy gives us the lowdown about Raynaud’s and her top tips for managing and preventing the condition whilst still being able to enjoy a coldwater swim!
What is Raynaud's
Raynaud's disease (Ray-nodes) means that the small blood vessels in the extremities such as the hands, feet, fingers or toes are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, cold conditions and sometimes emotional stress. (Definition from www.sruk.co.uk)
White fingers and toes, numbness, pain, pins and needles – these are all symptoms of Raynaud's. Next week I will celebrate 2 years of wild swimming and so far I have not let my mate Ray hold me back from dipping in cold water 3 times a week for 12 months of the year.
Here are my top 5 tips for keeping Ray at bay whilst wild swimming!
- Invest in some decent wetsuit gloves and boots, the thicker coverage (ideally 5mm) that you have on your extremities the less likely that Ray will pay you a visit after you’re out of the water!
- Gloves, hand warmers, heat pads or hot water bottle – all help to get the warmth back post dip
- Silver gloves and socks – these can help get heat direction back in to your skin quickly
- Don’t leave your feet last when getting changing! A thick changing mat to stand on and a pair of warm winter boots have also been game changers to my routine and warming my feet up.
- Swim your own swim! This is really key in wild swimming and especially if you suffer from Raynaud’s. Stay in the water for as long as you feel comfortable sometimes this will less than 5 mins other times a lot longer.
I try to remain flexible with my approach to swimming with Raynaud’s, things like diet, stress and cold weather can cause an attack and I’m always prepared to make the decision to not swim if It happens before I get in the water.
In general I try not to let Raynaud’s suck the fun out of my cold water experience, I just have to prepare a bit more before I head out for a swim and that seems to work for me.
For more information about Raynaud’s including symptoms, diagnosis and treatment take a look at Scleroderma & Raynaud's UK (SRUK) website https://www.sruk.co.uk/
Please give the lovely Lucy a follow on her Instagram page: @40swims