Hal Higdon

Got a question about running? You're in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon's Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for Runner’s World and author of 34 books, including the best-selling Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that more than a quarter million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks.

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Numb Feet

QUESTION: I have a problem with one of my feet going numb as I run. I purchased a new pair of shoes last week. So far, I have run two times in the shoes, and both times my right foot has fallen asleep. It didn’t seem like my laces were too tight. This hasn’t happened before.

HAL’S ANSWER: Whether or not the laces were too tight, the shoes apparently were. Check the fit, particularly the right shoe. Should you have gotten a half size larger? As we run long distances, our feet begin to swell. So runners often need shoes somewhat larger than street shoes. As we run, fluids descend to the low points on our body (feet). But then those same fluids must be pumped back to the top. Unfortunately for beginners, their cardiovascular systems are not yet well enough developed for efficient circulation. So some of the fluids get stuck down below, and the feet swell. (So do the hands.) Don’t worry. Developing a more efficient cardiovascular system is one of the positive results of training—but it takes a while. In the meantime, you need to be more careful about shoe selection, particularly if your plan includes regular long runs.

Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans. Check out more of Hal Higdon's training plans here or on his website. Archived Q&A's from Hal can be found here.

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    Great post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I'd be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Thanks!
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    NFL is definitely a single of the largest sports in America. It has a main following.
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    Numb Feet - Q&A with Hal Higdon - TrainingPeaks Blog
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    Numb Feet - Q&A with Hal Higdon - TrainingPeaks Blog

Reader Comments (2)

My fingers and toes go numb, even in warm weather for the first few miles - thoughts?

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJed Hurt

I suffered with this problem for quite some time. I was always worried that I would break a toe or a bone in my foot, as I had no sensation in my foot while running. I tried different lacing patterns and wider shoes / differently shaped lasts with minimal success. Reducing my training mileage temporarily alleviated the problem, but it returned as soon as the mileage went up again.

Fortunately, I started seeing a chiropractor around this time, and upon doing the initial x-rays, he discovered that I have a significant leg length discrepancy (short leg). This was causing a side tilt in my pelvis / spine which was compressing the nerves in my legs, which was causing the numbness in my foot.

My treatment was using an appropriately sized lift in one of my shoes. After an adjustment period, the problem disappeared, and I am currently running marathon distances with no numbness. Previously, my foot would be completely numb in 6-7 km.

If you suspect that this might be your problem, one thing you might try is running in the same direction, but the opposite side of the road (if possible). The camber of the road might be increasing the amount of pelvic tilt and changing sides will reduce the pelvic tilt (compared to running on a flat surface).

Good luck!

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterD. Dawson

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