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More Training Info > Numb Feet: Cause, Cure

Numb Feet: Cause, Cure

Q. What do I do about numb feet on cardio machines?

A. First determine which cardiovascular machines are causing the problem. All, or one in particular? Toes typically go numb from nerve damage or reduced blood circulation. Assuming you do not have any problems with the former (see a physician if you expect it might be a medical reason), then work toward a solution for the latter.

Try another machine

It may be that the specific machine you are using is not adjusted properly. If you have numbness on a bike, make sure that the seat is adjusted to the right height so that when your leg is extended to the bottom you have a slight bend in your knee without any rocking of your pelvis from side to side. See if a recumbent bike feels better, or if you have trouble on a recumbent, try a spin or upright bike instead. If you have a problem on a stair climber or Versa climber, try moving your foot to a different position on the pedal. You might also choose to do a portion of your workout on the offending machine and then switch to something else until you build up your tolerance (and endurance). That way you can still complete the entire length of your workout while still getting training on the specific piece of equipment.

Elliptical experience

If you have numbness on the elliptical trainer, you may be putting too much pressure on your toes. Try wiggling your toes, changing foot position (feet to the back of the foot plates instead of front, or vice versa), changing direction by walking backward, or changing ramp height. You can also try periodically shifting your weight to the balls of your feet, or the heels, whenever you feel the onset of numbness. If you are training with any sort of pack on your back (for mountaineering or backpacking, for example) it may be that the additional weight is causing the problem; try taking the pack off and see if the numbness goes away.

Walking woes

If you experience problems walking, or on a treadmill, try different ramp heights, as specific inclines may put more pressure on the toes than others. Try changing speed and moving your toes within your shoes to help diminish the problem. Change direction (add some side steps, backward walking, cross steps) or briefly alter your mode of movement (skipping, jogging, or hopping) until the numbness subsides. If you only have trouble on the treadmill or flat terrain, try walking on grass, dirt, gravel, or sand where the feet are massaged more and stimulated in different positions. If you have trouble with numbness hiking (and only in one pair of boots) it could be that you need a different hiking shoe.

Examine your shoes

The solution may be as simple as changing lacing strategy or getting a different exercise shoe or hiking boot. If your shoes are too tight, circulation to the toes will be hampered. Even with shoes of appropriate size, you may be sliding forward within the foot bed, putting too much pressure on the toes. During exercise, your feet may swell as much as a full shoe size, and if you experience trouble later in the day but not early in the morning, the issue could very well be related to shoe size. Try lacing them loosely at the toe end and more tightly around the ankle to help prevent the foot from sliding forward with each step. Try to relax your feet as much as possible and be sure to strike with the heel, then roll through the ball of the foot and finally push off with the toes. Finally, if you only get that feeling with climbing shoes, give your feet a break every so often and take the tight things off!



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