toes go numb when running

8 Reasons Why Your Toes Go Numb When Running

If you have ever had your foot go numb while you’re running, you know that it can be quite a scary experience. It can certainly throw you off your game and may even cause you to stumble. So, what is the cause of a pins and needles feeling or numbness in one or both feet when you are running. Here are 9 possible causes of foot numbness when you’re on the run. 

1. Badly Sized Shoes

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The most obvious reason that you may be suffering from pins and needles or a numb feeling in your feet while running is that you have shoes on your feet that are too tight. When you have a too narrow shoe, you feet will feel constricted, and blood flow will be impaired causing pressure on the nerves. If this is the case, I highly recommend heading to your running shoe store and getting help from a pro to get properly fitting shoes for your feet.

The pro shoe guy will take into account not only your foot weight and length but also your running gait. It is always good advice to buy a pair of shoes that are a half size bigger than your daily footwear size to avoid tight footwear.

2. The Shoe is Too Tight

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Another easy fix to persistent numbness is having laces that are too tight. When this is the case, the nerves at the top of your foot my be too constricted. It’s only natural that you want to get a great, tight fit. But in your enthusiasm you may lace up too tightly and restrict your normal nerve action. The specific pressure on nerves issue that can result from too tight laces is called tarsal tunnel.

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If tying your laces too tight is an issue for you, get into the habit of tying your laces around your ankles. It doing that feels too loose experiment with different lacing methods. Another option is to put some padding under the tongue of your running shoe.

3. Improper Running Gait

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Your foot numbness may be the result of improper running form. Specifically, the problem of over striding could be your problem.  Over striding or under striding are common running mistakes. Over striding is when you have such a large stride that your foot strike occurs well ahead of your body and you end up landing on your heel rather than your mid-sole. Because your heel is ahead of your center of gravity, a lot of weight falls on your heel when you have the habit of lengthy foot strike. 

To overcome this problem, you will have to work at shortening the length of your stride. Consciously focus on landing on your mid-sole rather than your heel. Correcting your stride so that you are no longer over striding will do more than help prevent numbness in your feet. It will also help to prevent shin splints. 

You may wish to consult a physical therapist to help fix your running gait. 

4. Over Training

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Foot numbness could be the direct result of training too often and not giving your body enough time to recover. ins and needles in the foot could also happen when you first begin regular running. Your feet are being shocked into a new activity and may respond with numbness if you don’t ease into it. Suddenly dramatically increasing your training distance may also lead to foot numbness. 

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In order to avoid a numb sensation resulting from overtraining, you need to provide yourself plenty of recovery time between training sessions. if you are a beginner runner, build up your running time and speeds slowly to give your body plenty of time to adjust. 

5. Tight Muscles

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Muscle tightness in the foot area can result in nerve compression leading to a tingling sensation of numbness. This can often happen if you are in a sedentary job, such as sitting at a desk all day and then going for a run after work. To overcome this problem be sure to do some stretching and warm-up exercises before you begin your run to overcome muscle tightness.

Your stretching program to avoid muscle stiffness should involve dynamic stretches, where you move a limb through its full range of motion. Save the static stretches, where you isometrically hold the extended stretch position,  until after your workout. 

6. Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s Neuroma is a condition in which the nerves in the foot get bigger due to scar tissue. This most often happens in the space between the third and fourth toes. It may also happen in the gap between the second and third toes. The condition happens more in women than it does in men.

This condition can be treated relatively easily. You’ll have to make an appointment to see a podiatrist. He or she will likely prescribe metatarsal pads for you to place inside your running shoes, These will help to separate your toes and relieve the pressure on your toes. 

7. Foot Shape

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The shape of your foot may contribute to foot numbness. Specifically, having a flat foot type will potentially lead to nerve problems. You can correct this problem by inserting orthotics. Even though you can buy these from a chain store, you are better off getting a podiatrist to fit them for you. 

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8. Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a medical condition that results in damage to the nerve signaling between the brain and the spinal cord. This is a potentially serious condition that may be related to early-onset diabetes. If you have worked through the other potential cause of running foot numbness and drawn a blank, you should see your doctor rule out this condition. 


Foot numbness can be a real problem when you are running. To correct the problem, work through the 8 potential causes outlined in this article. Once, you have ruled out one, go to the next. Correct as needed and, hopefully, by the time you get to number eight your foot numbness will have gone away.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I continue to work out through the numbness?

If you continue to work out through the numbness or loss of sensation, you will only make the problem worse. You will find it very difficult to maintain your balance and coordination. this will make it increasingly dangerous as you keep running. It will also make any root cause for your numbness worse. 

Is running good for weight loss?

Yes, running is a good aerobic workout for weight loss as it burns plenty of calories. For optimum weight loss results, you should combine running with HIIT cardio and strength training in your exercise routine.

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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