A leading neurologist explains about numb feet and running.

Ever get numb feet while running? Numb feet can be caused by a variety of factors, including neurological problems and cardiovascular problems. But what if you get only numb feet, and only while running?

First off, make sure your shoes properly fit. Tight shoes can cause feet to feel numb while running. Are your shoes new?

Or maybe you haven’t worn them in a while? Wearing extra thick socks lately?

Shoes may not feel tight, but constriction can be intensified while running, thereby creating numb feet.

“When you are running, your electrolytes (such as calcium) may be abnormally low (this is why people drink sports beverages with supplemental electrolytes), and this can cause tingling,” says Daniel Kantor, MD, director of the Neurology Residency Program, Florida Atlantic University.

“This can be relieved by making sure you are well-hydrated with sports drinks (you don’t want to dilute the electrolytes with water alone).

“Some people may have an underlying cause for their tingling, and heating up your nerves may bring out the symptom of tingling (this is rare if you are healthy enough to be running).”

The best way to prevent numb feet while running, says Dr. Kantor, is to simply stay well-hydrated: before, during and after the run.

If despite making the above changes, you are still getting numb feet during running, consider trying a brand new pair of shoes, even if the ones you’ve been using seem to fit perfectly.

Maybe it’s time to purchase a new, and better, pair of running shoes; this may stop the numb sensations in your feet. An arch support may also help solve the problem.

Another thing that might cause numb feet while running is shoelaces tied too tight, or the Velcro straps being too tight.

And what about all that pounding your feet endure on hard pavement? This, too, can cause numb feet during your runs, especially if there are stones on the path.

Certainly you’ve heard of carpal tunnel syndrome. Ever hear of tarsal tunnel syndrome?

This is the “carpal tunnel syndrome” of the foot, in which the tibial nerve that runs through the inside of the ankle becomes compressed.

TTS has a variety of possible causes (nothing serious), so it’s best to consult with a physician.

Treatment may involve a custom-made shoe insert, rest and a cortisone injection. It these fail to alleviate the numbness in your feet while running, surgical release may be the answer, though often, nonsurgical treatment works.

Dr. Kantor adds, “Medications may also cause tingling and if you are on any, you probably want to talk to your doctor and ask if it may be contributing to your tingling.”

If numb feet while running continues despite making adjustments, then see your doctor to rule out any possible medical causes.

Dr. Kantor is also President Emeritus, Florida Society of Neurology.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 

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