Peripheral Arterial Disease and Penguin Feet: Never Stop Experimenting to Encourage Blood Flow

encourage blood flow

I was struggling along on a run fighting off peripheral arterial disease claudication using the methods in my book, plus another couple of tricks, when I thought of penguin feet. I’m a life-long scientist, and my mind is always doing stuff like that.

“Penguin feet?” you might be thinking.

The connection is readily apparent, if you have an interest in countercurrent flow systems, and a desire to encourage blood flow to your calves and feet. They occur all over the place in nature, from fish gills to your kidneys, one of which prevents penguins sinking into the ice. They keep their feet colder than the rest of their body using a blood supply designed as in the diagram below.

encourage blood flow
Image and copyright purchased from ShutterStock, Inc.

My subconscious made the connection, saying to my conscious brain: “You have more trouble with claudication in cold weather, because cold muscles don’t perfuse so well as warm ones. So why not warm up the blood in your feet, and as it flows back up your calves during venous return, that will warm up your calf muscles, which may encourage blood flow and so reduce claudication … think about it!”

“Thank you subconscious, much appreciated.”

I tested a number of toe and foot warmers, and found, indeed, warming my feet does reduce calf claudication during running. The problem is getting used to really hot feet.

I’m continuing to test the foot warmers in the image, above, and I’ve learned a couple of tricks:

  1. Put them on your socks as soon as you open the packet, or they can clump up.
  2. Put them on smoothly toward the front of your sock/foot.
  3. Don’t put them under the heel (damn that hurt, nearly burned me).
  4. Be patient.

I also learned, as these foot warmers provide some arch support, that arch supports in my shoes reduce pressure on the balls of my feet where running tends to produce corns (damn, they hurt).

The message of this post is, keep working to find ways to continue the activities you enjoy, which in this case is to encourage blood flow to, through and from my feet, while running.

AND don’t forget, “A life without risk, is no life at all.”

-kev aka FitOldDog

PS You can download free copies of my training ebooks if you scroll down on my writer’s website, Wrong Name Books.

PPS And you can sign up for my fascinating and helpful weekly newsletter at this link.

encourage blood flow
MRI scans through the thighs of three guys. Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone. Note the loss of both muscle and bone mass in the sedentary guy.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.