This could be something as simple as the fit of your running shoes or it may be more concerning. – By Susan Paul
First and foremost, check the toe box of your shoe and make sure it is WIDE enough. You need to have plenty of room for your toes and forefoot; remember, your foot spreads out upon impact, so allow for that increase in width. Examine the toe box carefully, look for any seams that could be pressing on your foot or toes. Check the lacing pattern of your shoes. Experiment with alternate ways to lace your shoes, like every other eyehole, and make sure they are not tied too tightly.
RELATED: How To Buy The Right Running Shoes
Next, obtain a proper shoe fit by a running store professional or a sports medical expert. Check the size of your running shoe; most runners need running shoes that are a full size or more larger than street shoes. This larger size accommodates socks and room for feet to expand while running. Consider trying out a totally different shoe too. Some brands come in different widths, which may be helpful to you; and you can try models that correct rolling in (over pronation), rolling outward (over supination) or a neutral shoe, and see if the numbness still occurs.
Assess your training plan, make sure you have allowed plenty of conditioning time. Try integrating some walk intervals into your running and see if the symptoms persist. For example, try running for 3 to 5 minutes, then walk for 1 minute; run for another 3 to 5 minutes, walk for 1 minute, and so forth.
Continue repeating this sequence for the duration of your run. See if running with walk intervals delays, or even alleviates, the onset of numbness. Hopefully, this technique may allow you to get more distance in before experiencing any issues.
If your shoes and your training appear unrelated to the numbness, then I would suggest finding a podiatrist or a sports orthopedist in your area that sees runners. This may be an issue that requires medical attention. Numbness is typically a nerve-related condition so you would be wise to consult with a medical professional if these symptoms persist. A medical professional will be able to figure out exactly what the problem is and treat it appropriately. Ask the physician for specific shoe recommendations for your foot and gait pattern too.
Landing on “toes or heels first” is a controversial issue. There are some that believe everyone should land mid- or fore-foot, others believe heel first is best. Regardless of where you land on your foot, toes or heels, your toes should not go numb while running. To figure out where you land on your foot, try running, without thinking about your form, and notice where you naturally strike. If you wish to change your foot strike, it should be done very gradually, in small increments, over a long period of time due to the risk of injury involved with any change in running pattern.