Why Do Feet Or Toes Go Numb When Running?

Anyone who has felt the tingly feeling of numbness knows just how uncomfortable it is.

And that’s especially true when you’re out for a run. The last thing you want to feel is not being able to feel your toes or feet, especially if it’s not cold outside.

If you’ve been dealing with more numbness in your feet while running, then you’ve probably started to look for answers, which this article will provide!

By the end, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to do to get rid of that numbness in your feet.

What Causes Numbness While Running?

It’s important to remember that you might experience numbness for a variety of reasons.

Try to isolate these different factors so that you can figure out which one is causing your particular issue.

Running Shoes

Before you go any further in diagnosing your numbness, you might want to start with your running shoes.

This could be a really easy fix and might be easy to diagnose if you only recently started dealing with numbness after you got a new pair of shoes.

Laces That are Too Tight

The first thing you’ll want to try is just loosening up those laces.

While it’s good to make sure that everything is secure, it could be that everything is too tight down by your toes and they are going numb. The simple solution is to make sure things aren’t as tight!

You’re more likely to experience numbness from laces that are too tight if you have high arches, so it’s definitely worth adjusting your laces if you fit into this category.

You might also consider adding some padding under the shoe tongue so that the laces aren’t so tight on your feet. You could even try different lacing techniques to see what is comfortable for you.

Shoes That are Too Small or Too Narrow

If you’ve tried fixing the laces and your feet or toes are still going numb, then it could be the shoe itself. If you haven’t been running for very long, there’s a possibility that your shoe is too small.

Typically, it’s good to order a half to a whole size larger than your street shoes for running. If you purchased a pair of running shoes that are the same size as your street shoes, your running shoes are likely too small.

Another big culprit is the toe box. You need to make sure that you have a wide toe box, especially if you have wide feet to begin with.

Most brands have a shoe that is good for wide feet, but Altra is particularly known for having a roomy toe box.

This is especially true if you do a lot of running when it’s cold outside and you need to wear thick socks. Your feet will swell when you run, so you shouldn’t just barely be fitting your feet with socks on into your socks.

Your shoes might be fine on their own, but they could become too small if you have an orthotic, so keep this in mind if you need an insert.

If you currently have orthotics, you might consider running without them once to see if your toes still get numb.

If they don’t get numb, then it’s probably the orthotic that is making your shoes too tight and you need new shoes.

However, if you don’t currently have an insert, but you’re thinking of getting one, then take a pair of running shoes into the podiatrist to see if they will work with an insert.

You could also ask your podiatrist what shoes he or she would recommend for using with an insert.


While running shoes tend to be the major reason why your feet might be going numb, it could also be your training. If you’re someone who doesn’t typically like to warm up or cool down, that might be your issue. Consider adding some stretching to your routine!

It could also be that you’re pushing things too hard and you need to take a step back. You’ll need to isolate parts of your training to figure out what it is once you’ve ruled out that it’s not your shoes.

Typically, it will fall into three categories for training: form, overtraining, and tight calves.

Incorrect Running Form

If you’ve been running for a while, you may have forgotten the importance of maintaining proper running form. When your feet start to get numb, that’s your cue to check your running form and see if it’s what it should be.

Make sure that you’re not overstriding and heel-striking or doing the opposite and landing on the ball of your feet. Both will cause numb feet.

Ideally, you will want to land in the middle of your foot, which you can accomplish by keeping a light and quick stride.

While numb feet are likely due to how you’re hitting the ground, it can’t hurt to double-check all components of good running form: looking ahead, staying relaxed but with a straight back, keeping your arms at your side, and avoiding bouncing.


While overtraining can happen to anyone, it’s more likely to happen to beginners who aren’t as familiar with what is and isn’t comfortable for them and when it’s good to push (as well as when it’s important to hold back).

If you have been running for a little while and suddenly started running a lot more or a lot harder and then numbness appeared, it could be due to overtraining. You could be causing muscle trauma in your feet, and you need to take a step back.

Remember to follow the 10% rule to avoid numbness in your feet. Don’t increase your overall mileage by more than 10% each week. That means if you ran a total of 10 miles the week before, you can only run 11 miles this week.

Also, if you’re new to running, you definitely should consider a walk/run program to get your body more adjusted to running. Not only should this help with your feet but it should also assist in your running progress.

Tight Calves

Although tightness can occur in any muscle, tight calves are a particular pain to runners. If you work at a desk all day, then you are much more likely to deal with tight calves, which can restrict blood flow to your feet.

An easy way to fix this is to warm up and cool down, which you should already be doing, and stretch to keep the muscles nice and loose. Some other things you can do are to foam roll, add some yoga into your running routine, and consider getting a massage.

Anything you can do to keep your calves loose will make you more comfortable when you run and will help prevent numbness in your feet.

Even something small like getting up and walking around at work during the day is sure to help with your calves.

Medical Reasons

Hopefully, your numbness was due to your shoes or your training, but if neither of those categories seemed to address the issue, then it is likely due to medical reasons.

In this case, you’ll want to see a medical professional to make sure that the issues are addressed.


One thing that you might be dealing with is Morton’s neuroma, which is more common in women than men.

It’s a thickening of the nerve tissue at the toes—typically the third and fourth toes, or sometimes the second and third toes.

If you’ve worn a lot of high heels or tend to wear poorly fitting shoes, then you’re a likely candidate for Morton’s neuroma, but it is easily treated. Just see your podiatrist or primary care doctor to see what they recommend to take pressure off your nerves.

Plantar Fasciitis

If there’s a lot of wear and tear on your feet, this could harm your plantar fascia ligaments, which run underneath your feet from your heel to your toes. While pain typically starts in the heel for plantar fasciitis, it can move to other parts of the feet.

You’ll want to see a medical professional to figure out if plantar fasciitis is the cause of the numbness in your toes, especially if the pain is the worst in the morning when you first get up.


While all of the previous reasons for numbness in your feet are fairly treatable, peripheral neuropathy is a bigger deal.

It occurs when the nerves that transmit information from your brain and spinal cord are damaged.

If you haven’t discovered another reason for your numb feet, it’s worth speaking with a doctor to see if it’s peripheral neuropathy because you could be dealing with a serious neurological disease like multiple sclerosis, which you want to address as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

As a runner, it’s important to make sure that your feet are in good condition because they are what powers you!

Addressing numbness in your feet as soon as possible is very important so that you can start feeling better and rule out anything serious like a neurological disease.

Fortunately, most solutions are very simple like changing how you lace your shoes or getting a new shoe with a wider toe box or even correcting your running form.

Once you isolate the problem, you’ll be well on your way to the solution!

Bumgardner, Wendy. “How to Lace Your Shoes for the Right Fit.” Verywellfit. Accessed December 7, 2020

Graff Foot & Ankle Wound Care. “Plantar Fasciitis, Causes, Symptoms.” Last modified May 1, 2020

Paul, Susan. “Help! My Feet Go Numb When I Run.” Runner’s World.  Last modified May 30, 2012