why do my toes go numb when i run

Why Do My Toes Go Numb When I Run? Learn More!

So, you are running at a normal, comfortable pace on the road, feeling the wind in your hair and the rush of adrenaline in your body. Everything is going well until a few minutes in, when you start to feel your toes going numb. You start to panic, wondering why your toes are starting to feel this way.

You might be asking yourself, why do my toes go numb when I run?” There are a few reasons as to why toe numbness occurs in the body, especially when running, and so that is why we are here to help you figure them out! Read on in this article to found out just what causes this weird symptom, on whether it is harmful or not for your body and ways that you can combat it.

We will be answering some of your frequently-asked questions on this topic, and our hope is that you will be able to discover just what is happening to your toes. With that said, let us get started!


How do toes help with running?

Although they are small and you might not otherwise give them a second thought, your toes are one of the most important parts of your body to have. They serve a variety of different functions, and that is why we list a few of them here:

1. They help you stand up!

The simplest and most obvious reason as to why toes are important is the fact that they help you stand up. In other words, they support you whenever you are on your feet, from walking to running to just standing up. When you are in motion, they transfer the pressure from heel to the ball of the foot, to make each step fluid and smooth.

2. They help you stay balanced.

Similar to support, your toes help you remain stable, so that you do not easily tip over when you are standing up. In other words, they bear the weight of the rest of your body along with the foot itself, which can be a lot for just five little phalanges. That said, it is an incredible feat!

3. They help extend your stride.

Since they are an extension of your foot, your toes can account for an extra bit of space whenever you move while walking or running. Your toes also give you acceleration, as means of pushing off from the ground to propel you forwards faster and stronger than ever.

Why do the toes go numb when running?

There are few reasons as to why the toes go numb when running. Here are a few listed below:

1. Having low arches.

Also known as being “flat-footed,” low arches can cause you to overpronate, which then affects how you distribute weight throughout your feet and toes. As a result, it can affect how you run. It causes the nerves to be compressed, which leads to them becoming numbed.

2. Shoes that are too tight.

Especially if the toe-box area of the shoe is too tight, then it creates pressure on the toes and it leads to the unsettling, numbing sensation in that area. Other factors such as lacing up your shoes too tightly or wearing thick socks when you run can be problematic, too.

3. Previous injuries.

If you have had a fracture or some other injury in the toes (e.g. metatarsalgia), then some of the remaining tissue might have stayed in there. Particularly if you start out too fast with running (especially as a beginner), then it can create trauma in the area, thereby leading to stress and the toe-numbing sensation, which may or may not turn into another form of injury over time.

4. Pressure on the nerves.

Interesting, your toes might go numb due to pressure on the sciatic nerve, a long nerve which goes from the back of the leg up to the spine. That said, if you have back problems, such as with a herniated disk or bad posture, then it ties in with the pain of your toes. How surprising is that?

Is it dangerous?

While the sensation itself is not dangerous, it nevertheless is a sign that there is something wrong, either in the way you run or how you treat your body otherwise. As previously mentioned above, numbed toes can be attributed to having low arches and past injuries, which can affect your running form, as well as improper shoes which can aggravate them.

In essence, having numbed toes is only a symptom of a bigger problem, so having this warning sign is beneficial for taking steps to fix whatever the issue is at hand, for the sake of your health and running lifestyle.

What are some ways to combat toe numbness?

Just like how there are reasons why toe numbing exists, there are also strategies which you can take to alleviate the weird feeling. Here is how you can do so:

1. Buy larger shoes.

More specifically, buying shoes which have a larger toe-box; you can check for this by seeing if there is at least an inch of space between your toes and the front of the shoe itself. Having enough room for the toes to breathe is the first step to a more comfortable experience.

2. Correct your running form.

It might be difficult to do, since you are so used to your old form, but making an effort to evenly distribute your weight from heel to toe can make a huge difference on how you feel. Even further, it can make you run faster and more efficiently!

3. Seek medical attention.

If anything, it does not hurt to consult with your doctor if the feeling does not go away. They can help by taking X-rays and offering suggestions to combat it, perhaps with insoles or, under serious circumstances, surgery.

Here is an informative video with other suggestions to treat toe numbness: 


Overall, with toe numbness it does not have to be a permanent, uncomfortable case. By figuring out what is causing it and taking measures to alleviate it, you will be running comfortably soon thereafter!




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