Several conditions can cause poor circulation in the hands and feet, ranging from decreased blood flow to polycythemia, diabetes or stress and anxiety, according to the University of Alabama. Blood vessels constrict in response to cold temperatures. The feet typically are affected first when nerve damage is present. Heart disease, a family history of vascular disease and high cholesterol also can precipitate cold hands and feet and a loss of feeling in the extremities, which usually are accompanied by other symptoms as well. Techniques to restore circulation depend on the cause.
Check your own level of risk before beginning any treatments for poor circulation. According to the University of Alabama, a quick test of your blood restoration capabilities can tell you if you are just responding to environmental stimulus or you have a more serious condition that requires medical attention. Squeeze your fingertips and watch how quickly they return to their normal pink color. Healthy circulation should return within a couple seconds.
Follow your prescribed diet if you have diabetes or other digestive disorders that cause your blood sugar to plummet. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, low blood sugar levels exacerbate neuropathies that decrease circulation to the feet and hands. Check your blood sugar levels regularly and eat every three hours to prevent loss of feelings and additional complications. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend eating a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains to combat peripheral neuropathy. Keep your weight in check because obesity also contributes to the numbness and poor circulation. Exercise regularly to control weight and blood sugar levels.
Include regular lifestyle changes in your daily routine to minimize the pain and discomfort of neuropathies and poor circulation. According to the MayoClinic.com, you should avoid prolonged pressure on your elbows or knees that cuts off the circulation and exacerbates the condition. Smoking is a major contributor to poor circulation and should be eliminated. Massage your feet and hands by gently rubbing in circular motions. Start at your wrists and lightly work the massage movements to your fingertips. Perform the same motions from your heels to your toes. Alternatively, you can include regular massages from a trained therapist once or twice a week to improve circulation. Finally, cover your hands and feet appropriately in cold weather, particularly if you have a chronic condition such as Raynaud's phenomenon. Keep stress levels low by practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.