Why Do I Get Numb Feet When Running?

Natalie Cecconi
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It’s Not Just One Thing

The short answer is that it is caused by a combination of factors, all of which are somewhat related. Let’s discuss how they combine to create the end result.

The primary cause of your numb feet when running is the amount of time you spend on your feet. This is one of the reasons why you’ll rarely find anyone feeling numb when they sit on a couch.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely avoid the time you spend on your feet whether at work, preparing meals, or going out for a jog.

This is where exercise comes in. The more you run, the more you reduce the number of hours each day that you spend on your feet.

You may wonder, “So is running causing numb feet or is it actually doing the opposite?” The answer is yes. By running more, you can reduce the hours you spend on your feet throughout the day. This can help minimize the amount of time each day when you endure numb feet.

The more you run, the more of a difference it makes in your overall physical health. You’ll burn more calories, reduce your overall weight, increase your energy levels, and do many other things that promote a better sense of physical health.

Shoes

There are a couple of reasons why running can lead to numbness and tingling in your feet.

The first is a lack of arch support and cushioning in your running shoe. You shouldn’t be able to press into the sole of your shoe when you put it on. If you can feel the floor beneath your feet right away, that is a problem. Your shoes aren’t doing their job.

The second issue that can lead to numbness is the angle of your foot strike. If you land on your toes and roll towards your heel instead of landing flat on your foot (as you should), you set yourself up for pain in the feet and lower legs.

The solution is to make sure you are wearing a pair of running shoes that fit well and give you the correct amount of support and cushioning.

In addition to a support running shoe, you could also try adding an arch support to the inside of your shoe. This can take the pressure off of your foot and reduce the impact of foot strikes against the pavement.

You can also check your foot strike by videotaping yourself as you run, and watching the footage in slo-mo. If you land on your toes, you will see them taking a big step as your foot strikes the ground. That is not the correct way to land.

Laces That Are Too Tight

People often wonder why they get numb feet after running. What causes numb feet while running? There are a few reasons that can cause numb feet when running.

The most common cause is having your foot tightly tied up in the shoe. If your feet are very sensitive, your shoes with tied shoelaces can cause a lot of discomfort.

It’s recommended to have your shoelaces as loose as possible to avoid numb pressure on your foot. If needed, you can use shoe stretchers to loosen up your shoe laces even more.

You can also try Strutz's shoe inserts to add cushioning and additional comfort to your shoe for additional foot support.

Shoes That Are Too Small or Narrow

Are your feet numb because the shoes you wear are too tight?

Several authorities have noticed that swollen feet are usually a result of narrow shoes. It all connects to circulation.

Narrow shoes create a restriction in the feet, which decreases circulation to your toes. This is why you can have numb feet while running and other symptoms of a circulatory problem.

In most cases, the solution is quite simple. You should get a shoe with a wider fit. But what are some other reasons you might have numb feet or other issues related to circulation?

It can be caused by an injury, a circulatory disorder, a disease, chemotherapy, diabetes, smoking, a diet low in iron, a tumor, or poor neuropathy.

Shoes That Don’t Have Enough Room with an Orthotic

Orthotic inserts are supposed to fit snugly inside your shoes and provide arch support to help support your back, legs, and especially your feet. If your shoes are too tight, your orthotic insert can shift around in your shoe, and this shifts your weight around in your feet and legs, too.

When this happens, the muscles in your feet, ankles, and calves can cramp and you can suffer from sciatica that travels up your legs. Your feet might even go numb.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can fit your index finger between your orthotic insert and your shoe, so that the insert stays in place.

Running Form

One of the most common causes of numb feet during running is your running style.

Running with a high heel striking pattern is the most likely culprit. As you run, your heel pushes against the ground first and causes a shock on your landing.

This is one of the most common running problems, and it happens because of your running stride and how you use your foot. People who have this running form tend to forefoot strike.

Fortunately, your running form can be corrected with a few simple methods. Wearing the correct running shoes can help alleviate a lot of the discomfort you are experiencing. Following your foot’s natural motion is also a good idea. Try to avoid raising your knees higher than your hips.

When running, don’t think of your feet. This is a simple yet effective piece of advice that can take you a long way in running and in life!

On the real, though, when your feet are cold and numb, it’s really hard not to think about them when running, so there are less painful and more reliable methods of dealing with it. Massage your foot, especially the foot arch, before running.

Use ice packs to reduce the inflammation when you’ve finished running. Working with a professional trainer to correct your technique is another option.

Training

It's like this: if your right foot starts to hurt you will probably stop running immediately. It's the same with your left foot and left leg. Doing so you will soon find out where your problem is and the ache stops. This is how your body learns to avoid such a situation which will soon lead to a damaged ligament.

In addition to this, there are prevention methods that may lessen the risk of injury. One of them is wearing the proper running shoes that fit. Those suffering from aching feet often make the mistake of wearing flat shoes or trainers that are not suitable for the sport of running.

You may think that these shoes will save you money. On the contrary, in the long run they will increase your costs if you are one of the people that end up being injured.

In order to get the best running shoes for your feet you need to visit a specialist store to get help in choosing the right pair. This will also make you feel better in the long run because the running shoes will fit perfectly. Those who run several times a week should replace their running shoes after 300-400 miles.

The material of the running shoes also plays an important role in the type of feet you will have. Material over the heels and around the toes is more easy to stretch than in the mid foot part.

Overtraining

When you embark upon any new physical activity, there is a learning curve. This is perfectly normal.

As you practice and exercise, your body adapts to the exercise stress to make you better at it. As it adapts, you start enjoying it more and this is when you start seeing results.

This is when you know that it all pays off.

However, there are some people who overdo it. They may start seeing results quicker than average. They may actually be able to improve on their performance pretty soon.

They may even feel that they might be as fit as they can be.

Or

They may just see this as their time to do more.

They begin to go beyond their limits. They begin to push themselves everyday.

This can be fine for a few sessions. But when you consistently do this for too long, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to injury and you’re also training your body to put more impact on your joints than they are able to handle.

This can lead to physical stress or even a mental breakdown. This is known as the Overtraining Syndrome.

The signs and symptoms of this are pretty much similar to the flu. But you might experience one or more of the following much stronger than they are normally experienced.

Muscle Tightness

How many of us complain of having numb feet when we run? Quite a lot, I’d say. I know I used to have this problem every so often, but I dealt with it more by stretching better.

But the next time you experience this, there’s a slight possibility that the reason could be the design of your running shoes. Especially if it is a new pair of running shoes, your muscles could be getting used to this new design and trying to compensate for it.

This is why it is important for you to wear the same running shoes for every run and for it not to vary in any way like different brands, models, age, or size.

Of course, if you wear shoes that are too worn out or ones that are ill-fitting, there is a chance they can lead to injuries.

So, trying a new pair of running shoes might very well be the reason you’re getting numb feet when running.

You could also have sprained ligaments or having tight muscles. And that, of course, will be because of your running shoes.

Injuries/Medical Issues

It is also known as foot drop or more precisely as foot drop paralysis, so you can immediately conclude that this is a condition where the foot and sometimes the leg of the affected person are not able to move the way they should. This is just one of the many signs of this condition.

Moving the foot is controlled by the spinal cord and if this is damaged, the muscles of the affected foot can’t be used on a regular basis. As a result, the affected foot just hangs and flops around.

The affected foot won’t be able to bend properly and support the weight of the body adequately which is why the person will fall down.

There are many causes of foot drop including those that are mechanical and those that are medical.

In other words, foot drop can be caused by an injury due to an accident or by a medical condition.

There are many different causes of foot paralysis and they can be explained in detail at this page.

Before getting to the causes let’s see what may happen if you don’t get treatment.

Foot drop can be a result of many conditions of varying severity. It can occur in acute and sub-acute cases. In some cases, the symptoms of foot drop won’t disappear without proper treatment while in others.

Morton’s Neuroma

(Cauda Equina Syndrome)

One of the more common running injuries that is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. Morton’s neuroma is caused by compression of the nerve in our feet.

A neuroma grows in between the bones on the top of the foot and the thinner band of tissue between the bones becomes more and more compressed. This compression shrinks the spaces between nerves and the compressed nerve will slowly lose function.

Because they are such a small and often painless injury, a lot of runners will continue to run on a Morton’s neuroma, even when their doctor has recommended surgery. This will cause further damage to the nerves and often times your surgeon will have to remove a portion of the nerve if it’s already to late to save it.

Treatment for a Morton’s neuroma is surgical removal and if you’re experiencing numbness, weakness, or paralysis in your foot, you should see a doctor immediately. Because it’s usually not painful, it’s easy to ignore symptoms, but this can do serious damage to your nerves and could lead to you in a wheelchair.

Peripheral Neuropathy

To better understand why you get numb feet when running, you need to first define what neuropathy is. It’s simply a condition where nerves in one or more parts of your body are damaged and can’t function as they should. This is likely to cause numbness, pain, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

In terms of running, “running neuropathy” is a common term referring to the lasting symptoms that develop after running a lot. The primary cause is repetitive stress on certain parts of your body. Some of the other causes include nutritional deficiencies, illnesses, or foot injuries.

The exact symptoms and severity vary from person to person. In some cases, neuropathy may cause only minor symptoms.

It is possible to prevent running neuropathy from developing or from worsening by avoiding long distance runs and eliminating any possible causes of damage. But if you have already developed running neuropathy, there are treatments available to alleviate its symptoms. Some of these treatments include exercises, massage, and medications.

Conclusion

When feet fall asleep it feels like the whole foot is numbed. Roots, nerves, bones, and joints are all affected, especially when you’re tired or stressed.

So now you know what causes you numb feet when running. Now you have to gradually search for a solution to this problem as it’s most likely a good sign that there’s something wrong with your running habits.

You have to test the gait of your run, check the quality of running shoes, and the foot arch support.

In case you’re running far more than recommended by your doctor, it could be time to grab a pair of Air Max shoes and take a break.