Imagine you are enjoying your daily run, when suddenly you feel that your foot goes numb when running. You might shake the sensation off for the moment, but eventually, it starts aching from your heel to toe. If you have ever experienced your foot falling asleep while running, then we have you covered. In this article, we discuss the causes of numbness in feet when running, and how you can prevent it.
Why do my feet go numb when I run?
If your foot goes numb when running, there can be many different reasons. It could be caused by pressure on nerves, lack of blood flow, or using the wrong shoes that are straining the joints in your feet. If you experience this state every time you run, you should consult the doctor.
Why Is Foot Numbness a Problem During Running?
Running is an exercise that engages virtually every part of your body. However, it puts a lot of strain on your leg muscles and joints. Since running relies largely on your legs, any pain or abnormal sensation in the legs can severely affect your running.
Your feet rely on a sense of touch to navigate changing terrain. But if you experience numbness in your foot, you may not be able to feel the terrain beneath you properly.
So, how do the feet get numb when running?
The primary cause is the constriction of your blood vessels. This can happen because of tight-fitting shoes or tight lacing that restricts the blood circulation in your feet.
This numbness can be a persistent issue for some athletes. Many of these athletes also have either flat feet or high arches, both of which put additional stress on the nerves. According to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, 7 percent of US adults have experienced numbness in their feet.
Fortunately, this numbness is not always a permanent issue. In many cases, slight adjustments can resolve the problem. These include wearing a proper fitting shoe that is not too tight and not too loose.
4 Main Reasons Why Feet Go Numb While Running
Having a foot falling asleep while running might be a surprise to you but it can happen to you if you don’t know why this numbness is caused. So here are some reasons to why your feet go numb when running.
1. Wearing the Wrong Shoes
If your feet fall asleep while running, then poorly fitting running shoes may very well be the reason. If your running shoes are too tight, they squeeze the tops of your foot and compress the blood vessels that supply the feet with blood.
Runners often choose shoes on the basis of their foot length, without taking into account their foot width. If your feet are wide, then opting for a standard width shoe can crowd them. When you run, this can cause your feet to go numb.
2. Incorrect Running Form
In addition to footwear issues, your running form can also lead to numbness in feet when running. Due to a lack of proper training, many runners tend to overstride. This causes your heel to contact the ground as you land, rather than the midfoot.
In addition to increasing the risk of injuries like shin splints, overstriding increases your ground contact time and puts added stress on the foot. It can also compress the vasculature system supplying the sole with blood.
3. Medical Conditions Like Morton’s Neuroma
Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition that is characterized by the entrapment, thickening, and compression of a nerve in your forefoot between the toes due to scar tissue. It usually develops between the third and fourth toes near the ball of your foot.
This condition can be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight, such as narrow high heels. Although seen mostly in women, the condition is also seen in men who wear shoes that do not fit correctly.
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4. Peripheral Neuropathy
If you have ruled out all of the issues listed above but still find that your foot is going numb while running, there’s a chance you’re dealing with peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is caused by damage to the nerves and blood vessels in your fingers or toes, which can lead to symptoms such as numbness and loss of feeling, prickling, paresthesia, and the feeling of your foot “falling asleep.”
4 Things To Do If Your Legs Get Numb While Running
Once you’ve identified the most likely reason your foot goes numb when running, the solution should be fairly simple. Here are some additional tips to follow if your feet get numb when running.
1. Start Exercising More
A lack of proper exercise can weaken the heart and blood vessels, reducing their ability to pump blood to the lower limbs. Specific stretching exercises, like side leg raises and calf raises, can help your joints loosen up so that you don’t suffer from feet tingle after running.
2. Opt for a Bigger Shoe
This might be a surprise for many, but if your shoes are too tight, it is a good idea to size up or get a wider shoe. It’s always best to get fit by a running shoe specialist.
3. Start Taking Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom contains magnesium, a compound known to increase blood flow and circulation. Bathing in epsom salt can help regulate pressure imbalances in your feet.
Many people get numb feet from tight calves. If you’re prone to muscle tightness, it’s a good idea to include flexibility exercises in your fitness regimen, such as yoga or using a foam roller to work those tight areas.
Is it possible to prevent foot numbness when running?
Malnutrition (especially vitamin B deficiencies) can cause nerve damage, which leads to numbness. Thus, it is important to ensure that you are getting enough vital nutrients and minerals in your diet. In addition, getting enough vitamins and other nutrients can reduce chronic inflammation, which can also cause numbness.
Prior to running, perform a warm-up routine that includes gentle exercises and stretches for your feet, ankles, and lower legs. This can help improve blood flow and flexibility, reducing the likelihood of numbness.
It is also important to pay attention to your running technique. Try to maintain a balanced stride and avoid excessive heel striking. Instead, ensure that your foot strikes the ground in a neutral position.
When is it wise to consult a doctor?
If your foot numbness persists for an extended period of time, then it’s essential to see a doctor. Numbness that doesn’t resolve on its own can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
If the foot numbness is accompanied by severe pain, especially in the back or neck, then it’s necessary to consult a doctor, as this could be an indication of a severe nerve compression or injury.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Your Foot Goes Numb When Running
Why does one foot go numb when I run?
If one of your feet goes numb while running, it may be because of blood vessel constriction in your foot. Tight shoes or tight laces can often cause circulation issues in your blood vessels that can lead to numbness.
Why do my feet go numb when I run on the treadmill?
Your feet may become numb either because of incorrect running form or excessive pounding on the treadmill, both of which constrict blood flow in your foot.
Final Thoughts on Why Your Foot Goes Numb When Running
If your foot goes numb when running, try out these solutions and see if any of them work for you. In most cases, treating foot numbness is simple and the problem can be resolved quickly once you understand the cause of the discomfort.
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- Running After Leg Day
- Neuropathy / Numbness // Institute for Preventive Foothealth (IPFH): https://www.ipfh.org/foot-conditions/foot-conditions-a-z/neuropathy-numbness
- Central Metatarsalgia and Walking on Pebbles: Beyond Morton Neuroma // American Roentgen Ray Society: https://www.ajronline.org/doi/10.2214/AJR.17.18460
- Peripheral Neuropathy // American Diabetes Association: https://diabetes.org/diabetes/neuropathy/peripheral-neuropathy
- Flexible flatfoot // PubMed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28058304/
- Foot strength and stiffness are related to footwear use in a comparison of minimally- vs. conventionally-shod populations // Scientific Reports: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21916-7
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