Are your feet always cold, no matter what you do to keep them warm? Welcome to the club. There’s nothing worse than suffering from chronic cold feet. It can truly be debilitating and isolating. All your friends are planning a snowmobile trip into the back-country and you have to opt out knowing your cold feet will prevent you from having any fun. You don’t have to stay home any longer. And long gone are the days of three pairs of socks. Poor circulation is typically one of the main causes of cold feet. The good news is there are simple steps you can take to increase your circulation and to keep your feet warm!
(Quick side note: If you are looking for boot inserts and other winter clothing that will keep you warm in sub-zero temperatures even if you get wet, see my article “Fortress Clothing – My Review!“)
To keep your feet warm in winter with poor circulation use these simple tips:
- Wear socks designed for people with poor circulation.
- Wear “heat holder” socks.
- When outside in cold weather use synthetic sock liners that will wick the moisture away from your feet.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol exacerbates poor circulation problems by restricting blood flow.
- Use “toe warmers” in your shoes.
- Wear boots or shoes that are not too tight. Tight boots can also restrict blood flow.
There you have it. Those are some very good tips that will give you that extra help to keep your feet warm if you suffer from poor circulation. Now in the rest of this article I am going to cover each of these points for you in more detail. Enjoy!
What is Poor Circulation?
Great question! To truly understand how to keep your feet warm with poor circulation, let’s look at what causes the chronic problem. Poor circulation is essentially restriction of blood vessels and reduction of blood flow to certain areas of your body. When there’s less blood flow there’s less warm blood moving to your extremities. This is why your feet and hands are always cold! So, what’s the cause of poor circulation? According to medical experts, poor circulation is typically the result of lifestyle, habits or disease. While in some cases you can’t prevent poor circulation, especially if you’re suffering from a disease, there are simple steps you can take to increase your blood flow.
Drinking more water is the best way to up your circulation. This is easy to do and doesn’t require any extra effort. Water is a key factor in regulating blood flow. The more water you’re drinking, the better your body can move warm blood to every inch of your body. Keep a water bottle handy at all times when you’re having fun in the great outdoors. It’s easy to forget about drinking water when it’s cold outside, but it’s so important in regulating your body temperature. If cold water is too much during a chilly day, try filling up a thermostat with warm or hot water. This counts too!
Eating foods rich in vitamin K is another great way to increase the circulation in your body. Vitamin K encourages and supports healthy blood flow throughout the body. While it’s always good to choose a balanced diet, make it a point to load up on leafy greens, fruits and fish before making a trip into the winter wonderland. Dr. Sinatra, a well-known cardiologist writes about vitamin k and increasing circulation on his website.
“Your circulatory system is enormous—containing approximately 60,000 miles of blood vessels, arteries, and veins and is long enough to circle the Earth twice! It’s what delivers nutrients and oxygen to every cell and system in your body and removes waste. So, it’s important to keep your blood vessels healthy, so they dilate as they should and blood moves freely throughout your body” -Dr. Sinatra.
Regular exercise will also help keep the blood flowing throughout your body, especially to your feet and hands! Even a brisk walk, 30 minutes a day will do the job!
Socks for Poor Circulation
If you’ve tried all the tips above and your feet are still chilly, then it’s time to pick up a pair of socks specifically designed for keeping feet warm for people with poor circulation. Sometimes, you can do everything right and still have cold hands. I feel you! My hands and feet are always cold and I have a pretty balanced diet and exercise regularly.
Socks come in all shapes and sizes and made with all sorts of materials. Your feet are going to have the best chance at staying warm with pair of wool socks. This isn’t your grandpa’s wool we’re talking about. Long gone are the days of itchy and scratchy socks that leave behind welts. The modern-day wool is called merino wool and it’s fabulous. Seriously, merino wool is a modern-day marvel- it’s soft, cozy, wicks away moisture and keeps your feet insulated at just the right temperature.
If you’re wearing boots, you will probably want to go with a medium weight sock- not too thin and not too thick. If your socks are too thick for your boots, you’ll actually cut off circulation to your feet-that’s the last thing we want to happen. Your feet are already cold, you don’t need to make them colder. Smart Wool, Darn Tough and Wigwams are all great trusted brands for wool socks.
While wool works wonders for cold feet, there are a lot of synthetic socks on the market that also work well for those with poor circulation.
Heat Holders are the go-to sock for a lot of people who suffer from poor circulation. The socks are made with a proprietary blend of synthetic material: Acrylic, nylon, polyester and elastane. This blend claims to be three times warmer than a regular pair of thermal socks.
According to the manufacturer, the socks are made with special yarn and loops that hold onto warm air and keep your feet toasty no matter what you’re doing. People who suffer from poor circulation swear by these socks. In fact, many people claim Heat Holders are the only pair of socks they buy because they work so well. I haven’t specifically bought this pair of socks just yet, but it’s worth a try. At $14 a pair, they’re budget friendly too and you won’t be out an arm and a leg if they’re not your style!
If you want to surround your feet in an extra layer of warmth, try a sock liner. Sock Liners are typically thin and wick away moisture. With a sock liner, you’ll find it keeps a nice warm air layer close to your skin. Don’t wear a sock liner alone.
You’ll want to add another lightweight to medium weight sock to keep that warm layer from escaping into your boot and beyond. Sock liners are a fairly inexpensive way to keep your feet warm if you suffer from poor circulation.
Compression Socks are also an excellent choice if you suffer from poor circulation. Compression socks promote circulation throughout your legs. Sockwell is a company that makes compression socks to wear in cold weather. This particular brand is made with a blend of wool, spandex and other synthetic material. It’s the way the spandex is woven into the wool that creates and promotes more circulation in your legs. As I mentioned earlier, the more circulation, the more blood flow to your feet! This company makes socks for not only cold weather, but for lounging around your house, running errands and working out.
The socks also claim to fight fatigue and reduce swelling! Sounds pretty cool to me. This pair of socks comes in all different colors and patterns. At just $15 a pair you can them out without breaking the bank! Quick note: you may want to ask your doctor how much compression would be appropriate given your particular health. Some socks provide more compression than others. It’s always good to check with a health care provider before buying compression socks!
I love Toe Warmers. They’re small and pack a punch when it comes to keeping your feet warm. If you’ve tried all the fancy socks in the world and your feet are still cold, try a pair of toe warmers. They’re just like the hand warmers that come in that orange package, except these are specifically made for your toes. Just a few shakes of the package and attach the pouch to the bottom of your sock. Viola! You’ll have toasting toes and feet for hours!
They now make socks specifically designed to hold your toe warmers in place. This might be a great option if the warmers tend to move around in your boot. If you need more heat, opt for the foot warmers. These warming pads fit under your entire foot, so not a square inch is left in the cold- literally! Toe warmers are inexpensive and do a great job at keeping you warm for hours on end.
The Perfect Boot Fit
When choosing your boots for your next winter adventure, make sure your boots aren’t too tight. As I mentioned earlier, you want plenty of room around your foot to encourage circulation. If your socks are too thick in your boot, then you will reduce circulation. Let’s try to avoid that! Pro tip: try on your boots with your socks before you head outside! Walk around… are your toes too close to the end of the boot? If you notice problems before you leave for your adventure, try another pair of thinner socks or opt for a different pair of boots. A local mountain gear store can help you find the perfect combination of socks and boots to fit your particular needs!
Another Cup of Joe
Another way to keep your feet warm drink coffee. Say, what? Did you just say more coffee? Why, yes, I did? Perfect! I can’t survive without my almond milk, Grande, sugar-free, hold the whip latte. The medical community is actually slightly divided when it comes to caffeine and blood flow, but the majority of experts tend to lean in favor of the hot drink helping with circulation! Caffeine can open blood vessels and in turn increase blood flow to your feet, hands and the rest of your body. A study in 2013, found caffeine increased blood flow by 30% to the fingers of 27 healthy adults. According to the study, it took about 75 minutes for the caffeine to kick in and increase circulation throughout the body.
To be fair, the study was funded by a coffee company. Even so, many medical journals picked up the article and doctors have weighed in on the study and believe there is some validity to it. However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Too much caffeine can cause your blood vessels to restrict as well, which of course would reduce the blood flow throughout your body. My takeaway: have a cup of coffee and call it a day, unless you’re making those fancy cappuccinos with pictures in the foam. In that case, I’ll take two please!
Have you ever seen those old movies where they are trapped in a blizzard and pass around a flask of who knows what to keep warm? It’s all a big lie. According to some medical experts, drinking alcohol can actually restrict blood flow. This can be exceptionally dangerous if you suffer from poor circulation. You’re already have lower circulation than most, why add alcohol into the mix? If you must abide, perhaps save the spirits until you are inside and by a nice toasty fireplace. Otherwise, try to avoid alcohol when you’re enjoying the great outdoors. Your feet will thank you for it!
If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from poor circulation, you know how difficult it can be to enjoy skiing, hiking, ice fishing, hunting or just a nice night inside by the fireplace. There’s nothing worse than cold feet. When you do go outside, remember keeping your feet dry is critical to staying warm. If your feet get wet, then you are in big trouble! When your feet or socks get wet, your body temperature tends to drop fairly quick. This happens a lot when people wear cotton into the great outdoors.
You want to avoid cotton at all costs. Cotton is like a wet sponge when it comes into contact with sweaty feet. In fact, cotton will soak up all that moisture and hang onto to it like a frantic shopper who found the last flat screen television during the black Friday sale. Seriously, that cotton is not letting go of your sweat. Once the fabric is absorbed with sweat, it will draw heat away from your body. If you suffer from poor circulation, staying away from cotton is even more critical! How do you keep your feet warm with poor circulation? I ‘d love to hear your ideas too!
Related articles: “How To Keep Feet Warm In Winter While Sitting Still” and “What Are The Best Brands For Warm Winter Boots?”.