My Foot Goes Numb When I Run. Why?

Q: My foot is going numb whenever I run. Why is this happening? It’s scaring me!

A: First, you should really ask your doctor or podiatrist. Anytime something like this happens you should have it checked out. That said, you should also check your shoes. Are they too tight? What about your laces? Try loosening your laces or undoing the top hole. If it’s not your shoes then check your socks. What kind of socks are you wearing? Are they too tight? Are you sensing a theme? Make sure nothing that you’re wearing is too tight or cutting off circulation, which can cause numbness. You may want to try a pair of shoes one size bigger.

Many people wear running shoes that are a full size larger than their other shoes. Another idea is to try a shoe with a wider toe. Other people with this issue swear by New Balance running shoes as many of these have a wider width or wider toebox. If possible, try and remember what happens right before your foot goes numb: Does a part of your foot hurt? Do you have tingling and pain in the ball of your foot? How do your toes feel? Numbness can be a nerve issue. It could be Morton’s Neuroma, an enlarged nerve that usually occurs in between the third and fourth toes. No one is certain about the causes although flat feet, high heels and a tight toebox have all been considered to be culprits. Morton’s Neuroma can cause numbness, tingling and pain in the ball of your foot.

Another issue could be plantar fasciitis. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Plantar fasciitis involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot — connecting your heel bone to your toes.” Plantar Fasciitis is more common in runners than non-runners. If you think that you might have either of these problems, you should go to the podiatrist. But, let’s go back to your shoes. Are your shoes in good shape? You should replace them every few months (depending how often you run) or 400 miles (on average). Are they feeling any different? Does the heel squish up easily? If so, it may be time to invest in a new pair. If you do need a new pair then it is vital that you get the right one for your foot. The wrong shoe, or the wrong fit, can cause numbness.

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