Numbness in Foot during running

Numbness in Foot

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31/08/2008 at 15:45
Thank you to everyone who has posted.  
Edited: 31/08/2008 at 15:52
31/08/2008 at 15:50

I run on an elliptical with two folded bath towels under my feet (for added cushion), with my shoes off, in a pair of socks.  The elliptical eliminates the pounding on my feet and gives a nice gentle rotation of both legs as I run.

 Around 3 miles into my run my left foot begins to go numb.  Wiggling my toes helps, but does not stop the numbness.  Raising my foot on the upward turn helps, but does not stop the numbness.

I did look at the tops of my feet and indeed, I do see a different vein pattern across the tops of each of them..   The left foot that goes numb has veins that run to the side while my "good foot" has veins that run across the top, but with no shoes on, it shouldn't matter.  The blood in both feet should be free to circulate.

 I have tried 3 different pair of running shoes and my left foot went numb with each of them.  I only run 7 miles, but once it starts it does not go away.

Vericose veins run in my family, but I do not have any vericose veins in my leg (nothing is showing anyway).

I have low iron, but I take a good iron supplement everyday along with acidophilus and a multivitamin.  I'm borderline vegetarain and eat healthy foods on a regular basis.

I do not stretch much before running so I will try that along with arch supports.  My best rusults have come when I run without shoes.  Although the left foot still goes numb, I can run further in socks before it begins. 

I'm not overwieght (100 lbs.), but if taking off a few more pounds will help it would be worth it.  Still, my sister is at the same weight as me and does not have this problem even when she runs a full marathon.

Having said all this, it seems like this is a problem within my foot since I can rule out many of the factors already mentioned by other runners.

It would be nice to take care of it early on because I worry about permanent nerve damage.


Edited: 31/08/2008 at 19:23
07/09/2008 at 15:32

I too have had this problem for a couple of years - pain, numbness and a crampy feeling in the toes of my left foot after about 7 miles - can be almost unbearable. I'm a non-smoker and on the under-weight side of normal. Pain goes immediately on stopping so not arthritis.

I have read the 'Chi-running' book and changed my style accordingly to a mid-foot strike and very relaxed legs (bit like Pose method, but different!) As advised in the book I have ditched my heavy duty motion control shoes for neutral cushioned ones, as light as possible. Over the last 300 miles no problems at all! Did 15 miles yesterday without a twinge. Running generally feels easier and I have knocked 3 min off my 10k PB. I would recommend the book to anyone interested.

31/10/2008 at 21:53

I injured my ankle pretty badly four years ago in volleyball.  It has never been the same but has never given me any trouble until recently.  I run and only get maybe 15 minutes down the road and it goes numb and my foot gets heavy.  I feel like I am running heavier and rolling my feet weird.  It has only happened a couple of times in the past two weeks, but I'm worried.  II was running and as like the past few times my foot got heavy and my ankle went numb.  I ended up tripping over a crack in the sidewalk because of it!   I didn't know if it was just my bum ankle causing this or if there was a problem out there for the problem.  Like the previous person said they wear Brooks and hate them.  I recently tried Brooks from a pair of Asics and wish I hadn't switched. I don't think it's the shoes but they may not be helping the situation.  Is there any solution that helps ankles like this?  I'm going to try some different excercises that will hopefully strengthen it if it is weak.  But I really don't want it to get in the way of my running. 

02/11/2008 at 14:38
I have this problem too - it doesn't matter how loose my trainers are it almost always happens. One tihng I have noticed though is that running socks made this problem much worse. I don't know but suspect it might be that running socks don't fit everyone properly - I have a very high instep and I tihnk they were just too tight. Incidentally I evn tried running socks in a larger than normal size but this made no difference.   
01/01/2009 at 22:38

 I have just got back from a run and for half of it i had a numb left foot, i think it's to do with a weakness in the ankle (maybe from an old or recurring injury) and the way i put the ankle down on the road when running. I went to the physio and she gave me a piece of elastic band to practice ankle exercises on it, it is meant to strengthen the ankle.

19/01/2009 at 22:03

I've just started running again after a knee injury and noticed that the numbness I was getting last year had come back after about 30 mins into a run.  I tried loosening laces and stretching calves after reading this thread last year, and I'm sure stretching helped.  I also changed my trainers and had no problems after that so just assumed it was the old trainers. 

Noticed in my case that my calves get very tight and then progresses to numbess in both feet - find that slowing to a walk and stretching calves a little helps to ease it and can continue running, but it is very frustrating as I want to keep going.  One thing in common with last year, is the time of year - i,e, winter, so i'm wondering whether in my case my muscles aren't warm enough even though I do dynamic stretching beforehand.  I'm hoping that in a few weeks time it will have eased off as my muscles get used to running again, but will continue calf stretches and loosening laces (anything to help!).

Edited: 19/01/2009 at 22:07
08/03/2009 at 22:14
i did about 7 miles today and both my feet went numb about 3 miles into the run.  this had never happened to me before. but after reading this thread i remembered that i did not stretch my calves before the run and i hope that if i continue to stretch before i run, as i normally would, that this will go away
22/03/2009 at 17:27

I. too, have had a totally numb right foot and toes after 5 or 6 miles.

As far as I am concerned, it has nothing at all do with which shoes you wear, how they are laced, or the amount of cushioning.

I am fairly certain the problem is neurological and in some way a response to a problem with the sciatic nerve. 

22/03/2009 at 19:30

Hiya, i dont know wether it helps but i suffer from this too and have been to my doctor who has advised me that i have a Mortons Nueroma in my foot.  Its basically an inflammation of the nerve which runs between your 3rd and 4th metatarsal in your foot and when you run on it i.e aggrivate it it will cause a numbness in your toes, apparently it is quite common in runners and can be caused by ill fitting shoes or shoes that are too tight.  I have googled it and read a little about it, there are a few different treatments for it but as far as i can gather there are no real guarantees that the treatments work and that the only way to permanently get rid of it is surgery to cut out the affected bit of nerve!!!!  EEK, i'm opting for rest and insoles at the moment!  Hope that helps  

25/03/2009 at 15:54
i have run almost every day since my post 2 and a half weeks ago and i have stretched my calves beforehand every time.  the problem has gone away completely. this might be something for the rest of you to try, though i doubt it will help with nervous system problems
07/04/2009 at 21:30

I get the numbness in the last 3 toes on my left foot.  I can cope with it when running but when skiing recently I was in so much agony I took my boots and socks off and stuck my toes in the snow! and the pain getting the boot off was unbearable.  I changed my boot for a full size bigger.  It was like skiing in wellies but the pain had gone. 

I think the key is looseness around the area.  After reading about it a bit I'm sure mine is damaged nerves from years of cold feet plus a bit of arthritis.  The joys of getting older hey.

09/04/2009 at 13:01

I get this in my right leg/foot. I do loads of streches before and after I go out to try and stop it. It seems to be worse when doing hill work. It starts off with my  right calf tightening loads and slowly I get pins and needles in my foot before loosing feeling completly. I have a  gait analysis whenever I get new trainers and the sports bods don't seem to be able to offer any advice apart from stretching. I went for my LSR this week and it struck quite quickly at about 2 miles and stayed with me until mile 7 when it just dissapeared.

I did break a metarsel in my right foot a few years back and wonder if this is the cause. Ahh I guess we will just have to live with it.

15/06/2009 at 01:49

Hey, I was having this pain as well and I just started running,  Very weird after about 4 miles the feet, sometimes one sometimes the other, would go numb and felt like i was running on a stump. 

Today I got back from a run and all I did was take my socks off!

No problems whatsoever.  I usually have to stop around 5 or 6 miles but went 10 today.

Hope this helps you all too
25/06/2009 at 12:47


I've had my feet go numb when I've been running and by experimenting I have discovered that it was the result of heel striking.  When I altered my gait so that I was striking the ground with my mid/fore foot the problem went away.

I hope this helps.

19/07/2009 at 01:07
Well not sure if this helps anyone, but the same are of the foot that was numb hurts when I sit in traffic jams and touch the accelerator.  In my case it's the outside of the ankle in the space where the shin bone meets the foot.  Im thinking of going to a sports physio and will post findings and any recommendations.
21/07/2009 at 10:55
I recently ran a 10K (part road, part beach) race and about 40 mins in my whole left foot went numb. Wasn't particularly painful but felt that I had no real control over my foot, as it was full of pins and needles. I tried stopping and wiggling toes but as that didn't work, I carried on running to the finish. After finishing the race, the numbness gradually disappeared without me doing anything - not even taking off trainers. I checked laces and they seemed fine. I've been wearing the same trainers (saucony) for a few months now so can't understand why this has suddenly happened. It really freaked me out!
25/07/2009 at 20:59

After a month of problems, i finally found the exact cause and a possible easy solution (yay). First of all, here is what the problem was:

  • pain/numbness in toes/ball of foot (only on right foot)
  • sometimes tingling in toes (only on right foot)
  • starts around mile 2-3
  • goes away if i walk

I used to run on my heels, and recently had switched to running on the balls of my feet. This is when I first noticed a problem.

Here is how I discovered why it was happening:

  1. place both bare feet on a flat floor (either bathroom or kitchen, for example)
  2. curl toes inward (just slightly enough to apply pressure to the floor, not a full curl)
  3. look at your toe joints; some of my right toes' joints buckled, looking like hammertoes

I could only tell i had this problem when i curled my toes on the ground, otherwise my feet look 100% symmetrical and show no signs of hammertoe.

After searching online, I *think* a good solution to this is to strengthen the toe muscles though physical therapy. One possible exercise i found was this:

  1. curl toes, hold for 5 seconds
  2. rest for 5 seconds
  3. raise toes, hold for 5 seconds

Another one:

  1. place bare foot flat on carpet
  2. curl toes at the carpet; pulling the carpet towards you.

So far, it looks like my right foot's toes are beginning to curl more naturally, but there's still room for improvement. I havent ran since i discovered this; i'm wanting to make sure those toes are stronger before i do another run.

My solution might need more work, like the assistance of toe stretchers or hammertoe pad things, but just knowing the cause of the pain is a huge relief to me.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Edited: 26/07/2009 at 05:44
04/08/2009 at 22:43
I posted back on here in 2007 after getting numb feet from running for over 7 years.  I still get them  but have now been diagnosed with reynolds syndrome and aneamia - neither of which will help, according to the doctor.  He reckons it's a problem with my blood vessels not carrying enough blood to the feet that is the problem, probably due to swelling during the run.  He said it would gradually improve as I run more and my body adjusts....
12/08/2009 at 13:39
I ran 5 miles last night and after roughly 2 and a half miles my feet both went numb, this was preceeded by a tightness in both of my lower calf muscles.  This was really quite annoying as my head and lungs were feeling absolutely fine so I continued on for another mile and a half on stumps until a mile towards the end when the feeling miraculously returned to my feet.  They had recovered so much they felt like new feet so I managed the last mile easily.  Not sure why I suddenly got this.  Have felt a slight tingly numb sensation before but its not as a result of trainers being too tight, as they're a size bigger than actual.  It might've been the laces though.  Calf strain is also an issue but I've attributed this to wearing high heels predominantely over the last 20 years which I understand can shorten the calf muscle.  I'll take on board some of the tips on here and am relieved its not just me who's suffering with this. 
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