Readers have been searching a little more frequently lately for things like running numbness and why does my foot go numb when I run, but the article that they are finding is about a numb hip during a weight lifting workout a few years ago. Here are some more relevant reasons that you may have a numb foot or leg during or after your runs. More importantly, here are some ways to avoid going numb in the first place.
If you are fine when you are running, but get numb legs or feet when you finish, then take note of what you do when you finish your run. When I was in high school, I would often head straight to the rest room when I got done running. The toilets were a little lower than they needed to be, and I was cutting off the circulation in my legs. My problem went away as soon as I started standing around for a few minutes after my run before sitting down anywhere, especially somewhere that involved creating less than a 90 degree angle with my legs.
Photo by CAZASCOIf your legs or feet go numb when you are running, then 90% of the time you will have one of two problems. The first cause for numb feet or legs is that you have your shoes laced too tightly. While it is possible that you are cutting off circulation at the ankle, the more likely problem comes from having the laces pulled too tightly near your toes. There is a blood vessel on the top of your foot that can be easily compressed.
Do not make your shoelaces too loose, though, because you will be more likely to trip or give yourselves blisters. What might be too tight one day may make for a perfect fit the next day, depending upon how swollen your feet are before and during your run. It is normal for your feet to swell up to a slightly larger size throughout the day, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet. They can also swell up a little during a run.
The second cause for numb feet or legs has to do with your shoes. Do your shoes fit properly? Are they a half size or full size too small or too large? Are they new shoes or do they have a few miles on them? When you bought your shoes, did you have running socks with you and wait until later in the day to try the shoes on? Did you seek the help of an expert at a specialty running store?
Improperly fitting shoes can easily lead to numbness. They can cut off circulation and/or apply pressure at points on your foot that does not really work well with your specific biomechanics. You may not even feel any problems with your feet; biomechanical problems caused by your shoes can travel up your leg and manifest in your ankles, calves, or knees. Your biomechanics can change as you get into better (or worse) shape throughout an exercise program, especially if you experience a large weight change or change in body composition.
A third problem with numb legs may be related to trauma, but these reasons are far less likely than tight shoelaces or improperly fitting shoes. Jim Manatel had to stop running after he damaged a nerve during a run after overtraining his body and not stretching enough after his runs.
If numbness persists anywhere in your body for any length of time, you should visit your doctor and get the problem diagnosed. Like many illnesses or injuries, early treatment (or prevention) can save you a lot of pain and grief in the future.
Have you ever had any problems with numbness during your workouts? Has it only happened in isolated incidents, or have you had recurring problems? How did you solve your problems with numbness, or are you still suffering from them? Share your stories in the comments.