By Dr. Nicole Freels, FACAOM
If you have ever experienced a tingling sensation of numbness in your toes or feet during exercise, you are not alone. Numbness in the feet during exercise is quite common, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. It can be caused by something as simple as lacing your shoes too tight, or it could be a manifestation of a more serious condition that requires medical treatment. This tingling can range from a mild curiosity to irritation and outright discomfort. In most cases, foot numbness can be traced to improper equipment or technique, but if it continues after those things are fixed, it may be time to see a doctor.
What is causing the tingling?
One common cause is ill-fitting shoes. If your sneakers or workout shoes do not fit properly or they are laced too tightly, they will restrict circulation. Check to make sure that your feet have enough room in the toe box of the shoe and that they’re laced with enough room for your foot to move around. We recommend purchasing workout shoes from a store where the staff is trained to properly fit shoes for athletes to avoid the many problems that can stem from ill-fitting shoes. Lexington Podiatry also has a wide variety of healthy AND attractive, in-style shoes available.
Another possible cause is that your feet are merely falling asleep. This happens a lot with exercises that involve planting the feet in a stationery stance, such as with an elliptical trainer, StairMaster, bicycling or during squats. When you continue to place pressure on your feet but don’t move them, it can restrict the circulation. Try wiggling your toes around and shifting your feet a bit as you exercise. Orthotics can also help eliminate the tingling by taking pressure off the ball of the foot.
Foot neuromas can also cause tingling and numbness. Symptoms range from discomfort or feeling like there’s a rock in your shoe to pain in the ball of the foot or numbness. Neuromas are caused by the thickening of tissue around the nerves that lead into your toes, and they need to be treated by a podiatrist.
There are a few other conditions that can cause numbness, including multiple schlerosis (MS), Raynaud’s disease and diabetic neuropathy. It’s important to see a podiatrist to rule these conditions out.
Two quick and easy changes may eliminate the tingling you experience while exercising.
First, check your shoes. You should wear sport-specific shoes that fit properly from day one. It is important that your foot be cushioned and supported correctly for your specific sport, or you will end up compressing nerves in the ball of your foot or in your heel, which can lead to numbness or tingling in the toes.
Don’t lace your shoes as tight as they go — as long as your heel doesn’t slip out, they’re tight enough. Too-tight lacing can restrict the blood flow to your feet, which can also cause numbness. It’s a good idea to readjust the laces all the way up every time you put your shoes on.
Second, adjust your habits. If you run on concrete, the impact could be causing nerve damage in your foot that will lead to a loss of feeling in the toes. Try running on asphalt or grass instead. If you’re a cyclist, pedaling with the ball of your foot over the pedal’s axle can do the same. Slide your foot forward until your arch is over the axle to relieve the pressure. Rigid-soled cycling shoes will better support your foot.
If you walk or jog, make sure your foot completes a full roll-through on every stride. Whatever your activity of choice, all movement that originates in the foot should be comfortable and fluid. Also use the full range of motion.
If the tingling sensation doesn’t cease when you change your shoes and your habits, call our office at 859-264-1141 or make an online appointment. We will get to the root of the cause so you can get back to exercising in comfort!
2700 Old Rosebud Rd., #110
Lexington, KY 40509