Numbness in Foot during running

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  • That sounds a diagnosis of my problem, tallbird, as I did have a sore shin too. I shall look up the website you helpfully provided. Thanks a lot!
  • I've recently started running and I'm now training for my 10k race (i've already done a couple of 5k).

    I was out training the other day in my new asics Gel 1080's when I started to suffer from awful tightness in my calves which then turned into numbness in my left foot - this felt like I had a stump. I kept wiggling my toes, stretching, running slower but the pain didn't subside until I'd got home, stretched, cooled down although admittedly it didn't take too long.

    I'm now worried that this is going to be an ongoing problem. I will try the sponge/insoles at the back of my trainers and loosening my laces.

    It's great to have a forum for to share problems like these. Any other advice will be greatly received!
  • I've read through this forum, and I've read plenty of people complaining about numbness in feet - my problem is numbness in my right knee which tends to kick-in after 50 or so minutes, especially when I haven't been running for a few weeks due to injury/holidays. It is very frustrating. I have found that if I do shorter, sharper training sessions (especially in gym on treadmill), I get fitter and possibly lose a few pounds......after a few weeks of this, the numbness tends to disappear and my confidence returns for the longer runs. Maybe it is added weight and too much impact/pressure on the knee? Not sure, opinions/advice welcomed!
  • I would agree that smoking can cause this. When I started running I smoked and after 30 mins my feet would gradually go numb till I couldn't feel them. Stopping smoking seemed to fix this - no amount of training did. It is definately a circulatory problem that causes this kind of numbness - if you don't smoke it could be shoes/laces that are too tight for the feet.

    I've also got tight calf muscles and since stretching regularly and doing some yoga I don't ever get the numbness problems.

    May also help to stop doing long runs and start running every day, but only doing 1.5 to 3 miles. Do that for a week or two then go back to normal. This helped aleiviate all of the aches and pains I used to get after long runs and my legs were stronger as a result.

    Also have a short period of doing walk/run training.. start of on run as normal but start walking before the numbness would normally kick-in. This will help the lower legs get some circulation again. You only need to walk for 1 or 2 mins. It won't kill your training like you might fear either. It's alright to stop and walk occationally, helps prevent injury.
  • I used to have this problem. Now, after a long injury lay-off I am well into training for Chicago in October and do not get this problem any more.

    This is what I think has helped me:

    1 - going to a CLINICAL relexologist (not one of the beauty parlour types). You'll be amazed by the connections the foot has with the rest of the body - so if your feet feel numb, that's not all.

    2 - a decent stretching routine. The calf-stretch a previously mentioned in this thread is good - but make sure you feel the stretch spreading into the foot. After trialling several different methods I find holding a stretch for a short period (5-10 secs) and doing more of them (5-10) works better for me. Try different foot positions

    3 - become aware of the motion of the foot in running. After my lay-off I seem to have a developed a different style of running to my old flat-footed heel strike - similar to that described on other threads as the Pose method where you run more on the balls of your feet. Very hard on the calfs at first - but so much easier and effective. The only problem with this is that I have a problem controlling my speed for slow runs because I feel I want to go faster. Someone (I think in the old edition of the Bob Anderson stretching book) described the running action as when the forefoot comes down think of stretching out the toes to grab a handful of ground as you hit it - and then "throw the ground" behind you as you move through the stride. I find that this imagery helps.

  • *In general terms guys, if your feet go numb. Which mine have also due to compression by the calf muscles, then it is a lack of blood and so oxygen, even a slight lack can do it thus aiding metabolite build up and local muscle cramping/fatigue. or neurological, again due to pressure or repetitive trauma. I had suffered the neurological cause also due to running on a fixed camber for to long. the foot then tingles or just feels 'funny' and when you start walking or raise the foot for a minute and try to stand again it gives way in vague terms.
    On the vascular front though personel circumstance should be considered, intermitant claudication(blocked or narrowed arteries)and lots of other stuff should be considered if the reccomended streching, running surface, trainers and muscle relaxation doesent occur. A pod can check both biomechanical stuff and vascular to a reasonable level and suggest further ideas? The worst part for me was trying to walk back with a foot that dident work! people thought i was a loony.
  • I have just read all the threads on the stump and numb syndrome, and feel quite relieved!
    I have just finished a 10k which was spent mostly in numbness!
    The run was mostly cross country
    and I thought this was the reason, but thanks to you lot, am going to try each and every method to help stop these irritating problem!
    Many thanks
  • At last I've found a thread that deals with my problem. Thought I was the only person in the world to experience this. Thanks guys, I'll try the stretching as this is a weak point of my running.
  • I had the same problem - right foot would get pins and needles and then go numb after about 45 minutes running and then about half an hour later it would go away. I saw a podiatrist who diagnosed tarsal tunnel syndrome (compression of the nerve in the ankle area basically) and she made me raised insoles which seemed to help. I changed my trainers in November and was advised to buy a corrective shoe - Saucony Grid hurricane - as I was slightly over-pronating. Disaster! The pins and needles came back with a vengeance, my whole leg felt numb even when I wasn't running and I had to have 2 weeks off. I've gone back to the old shoes now with the insoles and so far so good. Hope it lasts as I was told that the only other solution is an operation. Much as I want to complete the Paris marathon this year I'm not convinced it's worth that!
  • And I thought I was the only one! I smoke which wont help! And as most of you, it comes on at 30-40 mins. The numbness starts in my toes and works its way up my left leg as far as my knee, I dont find it painfull just very un-nerving. If I stop ruuning and walk for 100m then start again, it goes or if I'm running hard I slow down and it goes. But I have noticed its far worse when its cold outside! If my feet are cold before I run I can guarantee the numbness comes in at 3-4 miles or 30-40mins. If I warm my feet up first, ie bowl of hot water (sounds too simple) I dont get any numbness or its so slight I can ignore it
  • also had this problem - mine due to tight glutes and piriformis - deep tissue massage only thing that helps mine once it gets bad.
  • What a co-incidence finding this thread! Can't believe there are so many numb feet out there!
    I went to see a podiatrist yesterday re numbness in my left foot when running long distances - starts in the ball of the foot and spreads to the second and third toes. V uncomfortable as training for the FLM and increasing mileage.
    He diagnosed a trapped nerve caused by overpronation and has made me some special insoles which he says should help. Hoping they do the trick.
    Long term, I'll probably need orthotics but he advised not to do anything too drastic so close to the marathon.
    Good luck with training.

  • Fiona - I also had this problem when I was training for FLM 2 years ago. I had to keep stopping during my training runs and doing exercises to get rid of the numbness. 3 weeks before the marathon I had to stop running altogether as the numbness got so frequent and I took to the gym. A week before the marathon I took an Ibuprofen anti-inflammatory everyday and 2 on morning of marathon. I also rubbed Ibuprofen gel all over my leg from below knee to big toe on morning of marathon, just incase it helped. Throughout the whole marathon I kept wondering when the numbness was going to set in, but thankfully, I didnt experience any numbness at all. I now have a pair of orthotics which seem to help but I still get it sometimes.
  • Numbness in the feet which starts between the toes and carries on to the ball of the foot and then causes loss of feeling can be down to a condition called "Mortons Neuroma" where the nerves inbetween the toes are crushed or pinched by the toes themselves. This can be caused by tight fitting shoes at the ball of the foot as you are effectively squashing your toes and nerves together. What works for me is to put a pad under the insole of your shoe so that it rests under the 2nd 3rd and 4th toes area on the ball of the foot. This raises the centre of the ball of the foot and so spreads the toes slightly, releiving the pinching of the nerves. Works for me and I am ultra running training at the moment so comfort and endurance are paramount. Enjoy !!!!
  • And I thought I was going to have to join the circus cos I was the only one that this happened to! Managed to plod my way round a 10k yesterday, first one for nearly 7 years but suffered from numb feet/toes once my feet had warmed up. Thanks to all those that have gone before me, at least I have some idea of what the problem is and what I have to do to try and alleviate it.
  • Found aomething that seemed to work for me yesterday. I got a Scholls half-insole and left a little gap between that and the toe-end of the shoe. Every 5/6 steps i flex my toes, which have got a bit more space and didn't have any problems at all for the first time
  • I just completed a 10k yesterday and experienced numbness in my left foot. I seem to have a very tight left calf and after about 6k I could hardly feel my foot at all. When I removed an ankle chip (timer) and loosened my shoes at the end the numbness left almost immediately. I have read all these threads and my symptoms appear to be quite common. Not a very pleasant sensation and a little bit freaky at the time.
  • so glad to hear i am not the only one with numb toes i overpronate and have orthotics but middle toe on left foot is always numb maybe i better see my podiatrist again
  • Arggg!! This is an infuriating condition! I get horrible pain starting in the arch of my foot and after a few minutes of running the spasms start> these eventually result in numbness of the toes and soles of my feet :0( This usually takes place after about 4 miles and can last up to 13 miles(Boo Hoo!!) I also get horrendous pain in my calves where they feel like the muscle is too big to fit inside my skin...They are hard as bullets and i have to stop to stretch them out (which sometimes works). This doesn't happen every run but it surely does limit my mileage..which is frustrating. I have had some relief from ensuring I stretch well before running and am well hydrated. I am gonna invest in some new trainers soon as I think when they start to wear it makes the problem worse.
    Keep on runnin'!
  • I had an operation called Anterior Compartment Release - basicaly I'd overdeveloped the calf muscle (from biking/running) and they had to put a little cut in the muscle sheath so there was room for the blood to be pupmed around the leg. Prior to that I had experienced the numbness in my foot initially, which then went up to my knee - I could hear my foot 'slapping' on the pavement and I had no control over it really. Not so much painful as irritating and distracting. The op has definitely helped but if I go off to fast, say a 5km without warming up properly then it still occurs - the op was in 1992!

    Good luck with it guys - no suggestions really I'm afraid, unless you want to go under the knife...
  • I thought I was the only one too! My left second and third toe often feel numb and yesterday had pins and needles. I put it down to new shoes and I'd tried to tighten the laces, loosen the laces, lace them up differently etc etc. I might try that Scholls half insole that Scott mentions - although not til after Lochaber mara.
  • Has anyone tried SOLE Ultra Custom Heat Moldable Footbeds? They claim to help with lower leg issues and I was thinking of giving them a whirl...however at £30 a pop..I would like to have some feedback from users if poss before forking out even more money :0)
  • So Numb Toes rear thier ugly, err, toes again...

    Dead interested (hmm appropriate adjective) to read this thread. I'm another member of the dead foot gang. I have investigated it with various physios and podiatrists and there are several possible explanations. There are also several slightly different issues we're discussing here.

    For me it's mainly in one foot, the middle toes feel numb, and stumpy. Also I have a related pain in the peroneal muscle - the outside of the leg up from the ankle (not calf or shin but sometimes described as such)

    The first thing to address is lacing one's shoes correctly. Loose enough around the toe box and tight enough round the ankles. Finding the right shoes helps of course. This probably means there's a circulation problem involved. I suffer from Rerynaud's disease - which doesn't help. So numb toes worse in winter for me. But not exclusively.

    One podiatrist I saw was convinced that stretching the calves properly would help - and it does, but you have to be dedicated about this. Not just half a minute after a run - more yer 10 mins a day, every day. I did the series of exercises she gave me over the summer and the tingling in the calves and peroneals did noticeably improve.

    Another answer is the possibilty of Mortons Neuroma. Think that's what it's called. There lots of info on this on related threads.

    Another possibility - and this is something that happens to me - is that the talus, a big bone at the front of the ankle can slip out of place and trap a nerve. Well that's the short answer. Manip. can dramatically help, but doesn't stop the bone slipping back again. This can be helped by, yeah you guessed, religiously doing a series of ankle strengthening exercises. I didn't do my stretches and exercises and everything got worse again. Numb toes - welcome to Stumpy Racer - tingling calves and aching peroneals - welcome to DNF Racer. However i have recently really got down to the exercises and have noticed a BIG difference. But you have to stick at it.

    Hop this isn't too rambling


  • Have you tried any neural stretches? I had simialr problems years ago with tingling in my calves and sore peroneals - very tneder to massage!

    The thing I found that sorted it out 99% was specifific neaural stretches and having my glutes (piriformis) friction massaged as my sciatic nerve was getting caught up their. Turns out now could of all been coming from my back!

    The peroneal nerve and soral nerve would be the nerves that are getting caught up locally.

    I used to get very sore heals as a result and its amazing how the nearual stretches helped this.

    A good nerve test is to assume a straight leg hamstring stretch while sitting down and then bring your chin down to your chest. If positive it will increase tension behind the outer knee and possible in the calves and glutes
  • Glad I'm not the only one....used to get a numb left foot after (yes you've guessed it) 35-40mins/3-4miles and put it all down to illiotibial band problems as I also had a bad knee.

    Since then I've run for over a year with no problems.

    Bought a new pair of trainers (identical to my last pair) in January which felt ok but in February I had lower back pain diagnosed as a sciatic nerve problem. No running for 6 weeks. Got back into it and have had a numb left foot again - today joined by a numb right foot.

    My calves have been tight since I hurt my back - getting cramp in the night etc.

    Soooo....I'm going to try lots of calf stretches and see how I get on. And then it'll be a trip to the physio - unless one of you post the miracle cure that is!
  • try the neaural stretches and see if that helps?
  • I've been suffering with numb feet whilst running for ages. Usually hasppens about th 30 min - 45 mins mark, sometimes in both feet, sometimes in just one - left or right. Completed my first 1/2 marathon last weekend and had to stop several times and take my shoes/socks off to get the feeling back. It is very frustrating - every time I set off for a run I don't know if I'll be able to finish it.

    Have seen 2 phsyios who cam't find anthything wrong with me so am off to my GP Monday to see what he says. I'm not sure if I should see a podiatrist, chiropracter or anothr phsio. Have tried different shoes, socks, calf stretching etc but to no avail.
  • I also get numbness in my right foot on longer runs and often very painful cramps in same foot afterwards (don't know if there's a connection). Don't get it on short runs. A really good warming up complete with running exercices (short sprints, skipping, knee bends etc) helps.
    What are neural stretches?
  • I recently bought a pair of Saucony Triumph 4 trainers (neutrals) with the progrid technology (huh??lol) anyway..since wearing them and in combination with the stretches (just ur average calf and achilles ones) I have had no more numb toes and cramping in the souls of my feet. Good luck one and all!! :0)
  • Saw my GP today about my foot numbness problem. He said he used to be a runner and also got this but didn't know what had caused it! He said that as I got it in both my feet he suspected that it might be a spine/nerve problem that was aggravated by the heavy pounding. He said I should go back to the sports physio and explore this fully but said if needed he could refer me to a neurologist.

    He did say that if the probelm couldn't be resolved then he might have to advise that I reduced, or even stoppped, my running.
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