There are several causes of numbness in your toes and feet when you run, including poor-fitting shoes and health conditions like diabetes.
Experiencing a loss of sensation in your toes or feet as you run may be caused by your gear, such as too-tight shoelaces and shoes, or your running form.
In other cases, numbness may be due to a health condition, in which case you will want to see a doctor to get checked and for treatment.
Read on to learn about the causes of numbness in your toes and feet while running and how to prevent this unpleasant feeling.
Numbness in your toes or feet while running may occur when your nerves are being compressed. The following are some of the factors or conditions that may cause numbness.
Poor-fitting shoes or tight shoelaces
One of the common causes of toe and foot numbness is wearing running shoes that are too tight or laced too tightly.
To allow for your feet to swell as you run, consider wearing running shoes that are a half-size bigger and a larger width than your usual size.
Properly fitting running shoes that you’ve laced too tightly can also lead to numbness in your feet and toes. To prevent this, try loosening the laces, especially near your ankles, to reduce the pressure on your nerves.
Overstriding — where your heel, rather than the sole of your foot, lands on the ground — increases stress on your feet, which could result in numbness. It may also lead to pain in your hips and knees, and conditions such as Achilles tendinitis and calf muscle strains.
You can help prevent this by taking shorter strides when you run.
Overexerting yourself by running for long periods without breaks may lead to toe and foot numbness.
Other symptoms of overexertion include pain, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
To avoid overexertion, try increasing your running distance and speed by no more than 10% each week. Give your body time to rest by taking regular breaks.
Dry mouth, increased thirst, and fatigue are some of the other symptoms indicating you might be dehydrated.
To help prevent dehydration, drink water before, during, and after you run. A drink containing electrolytes may help you rehydrate after a run. Avoid drinks that can make dehydration worse, such as soda and alcohol.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is an ankle condition similar to but
This may cause symptoms in your ankle or the sole of your foot that include numbness, tingling, and sharp pain.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications as well as the RICE method, which stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate.
Nerve pressure caused by muscle tightness
The sciatic nerve can get pinched by the surrounding tissues if your muscles are too tight, or by conditions like a herniated or slipped disc. The repetitive motion of running may further irritate and inflame the pinched nerve.
If you have flat arches, a larger portion of the soles of your feet make contact with the ground when you run. Flat arches can cause more pressure on the nerves and blood vessels of your soles, possibly leading to numbness.
In addition to numbness, flat feet may cause you to experience pain in your ankles or the arches of your feet.
Wearing orthotics in your running shoes may help support your arches and prevent nerve compression.
Peripheral neuropathy is when your nerves work incorrectly due to damage caused by an injury or infection or due to a health condition. Your nerves may not send signals to your brain, resulting in numbness.
If you have diabetes, wearing padded socks when you run may help prevent damage to the soft tissue of your feet.
Pain and numbness in the ball of your foot, usually between your third and fourth toes, are symptoms of Morton’s neuroma, a noncancerous thickening of the tissue around the plantar nerves in your foot.
Morton’s neuroma is often caused by wearing tight or narrow shoes that compress the bones in your toes and pinch the nerves.
Wearing proper-fitting shoes with inserts that take pressure off the affected nerves can help alleviate this condition.
Peripheral arterial disease
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) causes the blockage or narrowing of the vessels through which blood flows from your heart to your legs. Atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty plaque in your arteries, is
Along with leg or butt pain or cramps while running, PAD can cause your toes to feel numb or cold.
The symptoms of Raynaud phenomenon include numbness that occurs when your blood vessels constrict. This reduces the flow of blood to your toes, fingers, nose, or ears.
There is no cure, but some of the ways to manage Raynaud phenomenon are to wear warm clothing, including thick socks, and to avoid caffeine and tobacco, which can constrict your blood vessels.
A doctor may prescribe medications that can widen your blood vessels.
Try the following tips to help prevent numbness in your feet and toes when running:
- Wear shoes that are a half-size larger to allow more room for your feet to swell as you run.
- Avoid tightly lacing your running shoes, especially around your ankles.
- Try not to overstride. Instead, aim to land on the middle of your sole with each footfall.
- Drink water before, during, and after your run.
- Warm up your muscles with stretching exercises before you run.
- See a healthcare professional to treat underlying medical conditions causing numbness.
If you continue to experience numbness in your toes and feet after taking steps to prevent it, see a doctor to rule out or treat any health conditions that may be contributing to this sensation.
It’s important to see a doctor if you experience the following:
- sudden numbness
- numbness that spreads to other parts of your body
The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about toe and foot numbness when running.
Is it bad if your feet go numb while running?
It depends on the underlying cause of the numbness.
Your feet may become numb when running due to poorly fitting shoes or improper running gait. Numbness may also be caused by a health condition like diabetes.
Why are my feet numb when running on a treadmill?
Your feet may become numb when you run on a treadmill for the same reasons they become numb when you run elsewhere.
Common causes may include running shoes that don’t fit or an improper running gait.
How should I lace running shoes for numb toes?
To prevent numbness in your toes, avoid lacing your shoes too tightly, especially around your ankles.
Depending on where the numbness is located, you can try applying different lacing techniques to reduce the pressure in those areas.
Numbness in your toes and feet may occur when your nerves are compressed or otherwise affected.
This sensation can usually be prevented by wearing shoes that fit properly and using proper form when you run, including taking shorter strides. If the numbness persists, see a doctor to check for any underlying health conditions.