Why cankles and dead hands happen (and what you can do to help ease the annoyance)
Alright, so there you are. Minding your own business. Growing a baby. Getting stuff done. And, you know, being a general superwoman (‘cause you are).
Then a strange sensation hits you. Before you know it, your hands are tingling, and your feet are swollen.
WTF just happened (and why!?)
Welcome to the world of cankles and dead hands: Another sly gift of the pregnancy gods.
And, no, sadly this isn’t a gift you can return.
Why cankles happen when you’re pregnant
During pregnancy there is a massive increase in demand on your lymphatic system and circulatory system.
This can overload the lymphatic system and cause lymphatic fluid to accumulate in your legs, feet and even hands and arms.
In your lower extremities, you can assess yourself by poking your finger into a suspiciously swollen area to see if it leaves a “pit”.
If it does, take a deep breath, because you have pitting edema, aka cankles.
How to ease it:
The best cure for pitting edema is to wear shoes that enclose the feet (preferably lace-ups) and compression tights. You can measure your leg size with a measuring tape to order the correct size.
We know, we know, wearing shoes sounds totally counterintuitive for aching feet. But your swollen footsies don’t need room to breathe – they need to be contained. Pinky swear.
Why dead hands happen when pregnant
Now let’s head back up the body and explore why hand weirdness happens.
In the upper extremities, a common pregnancy complaint is carpal tunnel syndrome. Next in line is nerve compression in the wrist.
This happens because there is a tunnel beneath the carpal or wrist bones, comprised of a vein, an artery and nerve that are surrounded by a fascial sheath.
When this tunnel swells up, it can choke off the blood and nerve supply to the hand. Which means your innocent pregnant self is left with hands that are numb, tingly or plain just “fall asleep”.
How to ease it:
The best tips for avoiding this SUPER annoying phenomenon is to 1) wear a wrist immobilising splint during sleep (and throughout the day if symptoms are severe) 2) do forearm stretches and doorway pec stretches 3 x daily to open the thoracic outlet/chest.
And when all else fails, remember this will pass!
Pregnancy doesn’t last forever, and before too long you’ll have a bouncing bundle of poop (whoops, we mean joy 😉) to take over your world.
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