You Asked: ''Why Do My Feet and Toes Go Numb While Using the Elliptical Machine?''


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
5/11/2012 12:00 AM   :  7 comments   :  42,500 Views

Many people experience numbness or "pins and needles" in their feet (often in just one foot) when using an elliptical machine. For some, this sensation is a minor problem that only happens near the end of a long workout, but others may begin to experience it within the first few minutes of exercising.

If you only have this problem during your elliptical workout, it’s probably not a sign of a serious medical problem. It is most likely caused by your foot coming in constant contact with the foot pedal, which places pressure on the nerves in your feet for an extended period of time. This is different from the natural motion of walking or running, where your foot shifts the pressure from the front to the back of the foot with each stride.

There are several things you can do that may help minimize the problem:

1. Make sure you’re wearing well-cushioned shoes for your workout, and try tying them a little more loosely than you would for running or walking.

2. Avoid standing flat-footed on the elliptical foot pedals—try to duplicate the natural shift of weight from your heel to your toe during each stride. You could also look for an elliptical machine with "articulating" foot pedals that rotate around a central pivot (like the pedal on a bicycle), instead of pedals that remain fixed in the same position as they glide. 

3. During your elliptical workout, change your pedaling direction from forward to backwards every few minutes, and/or vary the incline level if your machine has that feature. 

4. Avoid long elliptical workouts. Try shorter, higher-intensity sessions, split your workout between the elliptical and another cardio exercise, or divide your workout into two sessions with a break in between.

If you frequently experience foot numbness at other times, you should discuss the problem with your doctor. It could be caused by a nerve disorder (e.g., Morton’s neuroma or diabetic neuropathy), circulation problems, or orthopedic problems that need treatment. 

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  • 7
    I always wondered why this happened to me! Thanks for the tips. - 1/14/2015   6:43:36 AM
    This happens to me on the step machine, too. Thanks for the info. - 7/25/2014   12:05:20 PM
  • 5
    I have also wondered this, so glad that others experience it. Everyone kept telling me my shoes were just too tight, but this continued even after loosening the shoe strings! I will try shorter higher intensity next time it rains! - 7/24/2014   9:53:11 PM
  • 4
    THANK YOU!!! i have always wondered why my feet fell asleep while using an elliptical. I actually stopped using them to work out because I hated the sensation so much. Now I try your tips and see if it helps me. :) - 7/24/2014   9:46:17 PM
  • 3
    Must be something specific to the elliptical; I use the Lifestyler ARC for 30-45 minutes at a go, and my feet never go numb. I avoid the elliptical, because in addition to numb feet, it aggravates the arthritis in my hip.
    Something to do with the motion (stepping motion of the ARC vs. the cycling motion of the elliptical, perhaps?) - 7/24/2014   1:00:46 PM
  • 2
    I have been wondering, I know that I have some tendon issues and had attributed to that. (it may contribute as well) Thank you for the tips, I will use them in my next workout! - 4/28/2014   11:28:34 AM
  • 1
    I was *just* commenting on numbness in my toes after a step aerobic workout. I typically do pretty intense workouts and end up "running" just on the balls of my feet, rather than shifting between heel and toe. I will definitely use the tips in this article the next time i work out. Thanks! - 3/6/2014   4:28:48 PM

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