Numb Feet while Running: Causes and Solutions


numb feet when runningRunning is a liberating experience, but the sensation of numb feet can ruin a good run. Understanding the causes of numb feet while running is the first step to finding relief and reclaiming the joy of your runs. From improper footwear and lacing techniques to nerve compression and overexertion, various factors can lead to this discomfort.

Whether it’s adjusting your running form, experimenting with different lacing methods, or seeking professional guidance, there are strategies to alleviate and prevent numbness.


What is numb feet while running?

Numb feet while running, also known as “foot numbness,” refers to the loss of sensation or tingling in the feet during a running session. This sensation can range from mild tingling to a complete loss of feeling in the feet. According to the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, 7 percent of U.S. adults have experienced numbness in their feet.  It often occurs as a result of nerve compression, inadequate blood circulation, or excessive pressure on the feet during physical activity. While occasional foot numbness may be benign, persistent or severe numbness should be addressed to prevent potential injuries and discomfort during runs.

Numbness in the feet can be a distressing experience for runners, affecting their performance and overall enjoyment of the activity. It’s essential to recognize the underlying causes and implement appropriate measures to alleviate this issue and ensure a more comfortable and rewarding running experience.


Common causes of numb feet while running

Numb Feet While RunningSeveral factors can contribute to numb feet while running, including:

  • Wearing shoes with improper fit
  • Lacing techniques that constrict blood flow
  • Running on uneven or hard surfaces
  • Overexertion, especially in long-distance running or inadequate recovery periods

Additionally, nerve compression, such as tarsal tunnel syndrome or Morton’s neuroma, can result in numbness during running.  Understanding these common triggers can help runners identify the root cause of their discomfort and take proactive steps to address it.


Understanding the impact of footwear on numb feet

The choice of running shoes plays a crucial role in foot comfort and overall running experience. Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes can lead to excessive pressure on specific areas of the feet, causing nerve compression and subsequent numbness. Additionally, shoes with inadequate arch support or cushioning may contribute to foot fatigue and numbness during prolonged running sessions.  Choosing the most suitable running shoes based on individual foot characteristics and running preferences are essential for maintaining foot health and preventing numbness during runs.


Proper running form and its effect on foot numbness

Maintaining proper running form is crucial for preventing foot numbness. Striking a balance between stride length, foot placement, and posture can alleviate excessive pressure on the feet and reduce the risk of numbness. One study looking at landing heel first — called overstriding — found that this puts the feet in contact with the ground for a longer period of time which puts more pressure on nerves in the foot.  Engaging in gait analysis or seeking guidance from experienced runners or fitness professionals can provide valuable insights into optimizing running form to minimize foot discomfort and numbness. By refining running technique, runners can enhance their overall performance and mitigate the occurrence of foot numbness.

Dyhadration Concerns

Swelling in the feet can be induced by dehydration, as it can result in the narrowing of blood vessels and water retention, explained Weiser. This can intensify the inherent tendency for swelling during a run, potentially causing additional nerve compression.

It’s important to include electrolytes in your water bottle, he emphasized. Excessive water intake alone, a condition known as hyponatremia, can also contribute to swelling. This occurs as water flushes sodium from the bloodstream, prompting the body to respond with water retention.


Addressing medical conditions related to numb feet while running

In some cases, persistent foot numbness during running may be attributed to underlying medical conditions such as peripheral neuropathy or plantar fasciitis. It’s imperative for runners experiencing chronic or severe foot numbness to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis.


Best practices for recovery and post-run care

Effective post-run care is essential for preventing and alleviating foot numbness. Engaging in post-run stretching exercises and utilizing recovery tools such as foam rollers or massage balls can alleviate muscle tension and enhance blood circulation in the feet. Additionally, incorporating periods of rest and allowing adequate time for foot recovery between running sessions is crucial for reducing the likelihood of numbness and promoting overall foot well-being.

Incorporating strength and flexibility exercises for foot health

Incorporating strength and flexibility exercises targeting the feet and lower limbs can contribute to improved foot health and reduced likelihood of numbness. Exercises such as calf raises, toe curls, and ankle rotations can enhance foot strength and mobility, reducing the strain on the feet during running. Additionally, integrating yoga or Pilates routines that focus on foot and ankle flexibility can promote better overall foot function and mitigate the risk of numbness during running.


Conclusion and final tips for avoiding numb feet while running

From prioritizing proper footwear and lacing techniques to refining running form and seeking professional guidance, there are multifaceted approaches to prevent and alleviate numb feet while running. By integrating these insights and practices, runners can embark on their running journeys with enhanced comfort, resilience, and foot health, enabling them to fully enjoy the boundless freedom of running.