You may expect body parts to shake during a workout, especially if you're hitting it hard at the gym. Most of the time, this extra energy stops once you've finished a training session. But what's going on if you're experiencing hands that are shaking after exercise?
Depending on the activity and your current health, there could be a number of reasons your body and, more specifically, your hands continue to shake after you've finished exercising.
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Though the shaking you typically experience when you engage in physical activity should be minimal and short-lived, there are times when your body can continue to shake and tremble long after your exercise session is over. Here are a few of those scenarios.
1. You Had a Really Hard Workout
Pushing your body to the point of fatigue is one of the most common reasons for shaking after a workout.
"Muscle spasms and hand tremors can occur after strenuous activity if you exhaust the muscle fiber in your body and approach muscle fatigue as nerve signal chemicals are depleted," says Janette Nesheiwat, MD, a family and emergency medicine doctor and medical director at CityMD, a chain of urgent care clinics in New York and New Jersey.
2. You Have Tremors
Tremors are involuntary, rhythmic muscle contraction, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and they often occur in the hands, causing them to shake.
While not a life-threatening condition, tremors can be triggered when you're physically exhausted, such as after an intense workout.
3. Your Blood Sugar Is Low
Another reason your hands may shake after exercise is low blood sugar. Low levels can cause tremors, especially after strenuous activity, according to Dr. Nesheiwat.
"It's best to keep your blood glucose level at a steady state rather than dropping very low and then very high," she says. If this is the cause of your shaking, she recommends eating a small snack prior to exercise.
4. You Had Too Much Caffeine
If caffeine is part of your pre-workout routine, you may want to consider cutting back.
Excess caffeine should lose its effectiveness after a short period, says Davoncie Granderson, an exercise physiologist at Power Wellness in Lombard, Illinois. Because of this, any shaking you're experiencing in your hands should stop when the effects of the caffeine wear off.
If the shaking continues, assess how much caffeine you're actually getting. Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults, which is roughly equivalent to four cups of brewed coffee, according to the Mayo Clinic.
5. You're Dehydrated
When your body is lacking sufficient hydration, Granderson says, your muscles tend to lock up. If you're dehydrated or low on fluids before physical activity, other symptoms such as fatigue, a faster breathing and pulse rate, dizziness and weakness may arise, too, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The symptoms usually resolve with rest and adequate electrolyte hydration, Dr. Nesheiwat says.
How to Handle Shaking Hands
Fueling your body with enough calories and a variety of foods throughout the day can help minimize shaking or tremors caused by low blood sugar.
In addition to proper nutrition, make sure you're staying hydrated before, during and after exercise. Don't wait to feel thirsty to drink. Instead, sip on water throughout the day and while you work out. When you're finished exercising, make sure to rehydrate by drinking enough fluids to replace the fluid losses, per the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
You may also want to cut back on your caffeine intake and consider eliminating any pre-workout supplements that contain stimulants, as these could be contributing to the shaking. Additionally, step back the intensity for a while to see if lower-intensity exercise reduces or eliminates the issue of your hands shaking after exercise.
However, if none of these preventive measures works and you're continuing to tremble for an extended period of time post-exercise, Granderson recommends contacting your doctor. "They can help you find the underlying causes, if any, and determine whether exercise is a safe option," he says.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Hydrate Right”
- Mayo Clinic: “Caffeine: How Much Is Too Much?”
- Janette Nesheiwat, MD, family and emergency medicine doctor, medical director, CityMD urgent care clinics, New York and New Jersey
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Tremor Fact Sheet”
- Davoncie Granderson, exercise physiologist, Power Wellness, Lombard, Illinois
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.