Numb feet during exercise can be a painful problemThis month is national foot health month so I wanted to take the time to address one of the most confounding foot problems out there: feet that go numb or feel painfully tingly during a workout. Since this surprising side effect may have you feeling a little bit panicked, I figured we could explore what’s behind this particularly annoying type of foot pain?

Even though the symptom is the same, there are several possible causes for this kind of exercise-related foot numbness. One likely reason is that with weight-bearing exercises, your feet can swell, reducing your circulation and causing numbness; exercises that are considered weight bearing are those where you’re standing, like climbing on the stair master, walking or running or using the elliptical machine. In addition to decreased circulation, moving your feet in unusual ways or placing too much pressure on any one part of the foot can cause exercise-induced foot pain.

Now that you know why this problem occurs, let’s learn how to avoid it. First of all, choose your shoes carefully—make sure your sneakers are wide enough to give your toes and forefoot space without being so loose that they become unsupportive. Also make sure not to tie your laces too tightly, as this can interfere with circulation.

When you’re on cardio equipment like the elliptical or stair climber, try to keep your whole foot on the pedal, so that your body’s weight is evenly distributed and no one part of the foot is left to absorb all the impact of your efforts.

With any luck, these tips should help you keep your feet comfortable while you’re sweating it out in the gym. If, however, you experience persistent foot pain during exercise and changing your shoes and stride does not help your comfort level, you may have a more serious problem. When foot pain persists, come see Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider for expert treatment that will allow you to comfortably return to your favorite activities. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.