Why Do My Feet Go Numb On An Elliptical?

Whether newbies or pros, plenty of people wonder, “why do my feet go numb on an elliptical?” It can be concerning, particularly if you consider yourself to be otherwise healthy.

In this article, we’ll look at exactly why your feet go numb when using an elliptical. After that, we’ll look at what you can do to avoid it in the future.

Even the best ellipticals can cause numbness in the feet, lets dive in!

Why Do my Feet Fall Asleep When I’m on the Elliptical?

Your feet fall asleep when on an elliptical mainly because of the constant pressure placed on them. The motion of walking on an elliptical puts a lot of pressure on the balls of your feet, your toes, and the nerves in them. This reduces blood flow, which leads to numbness.

It can be made worse by the shoes you wear while exercising. Your feet swell throughout the day naturally, but moving a lot (such as when using an elliptical) speeds it up. If your shoes are snug or you’ve laced them too tight, this could contribute to the numbness.

Generally, having your feet fall asleep when using an elliptical isn’t something to worry about. If it’s the only time your feet go numb, the elliptical is probably the reason why.

why do my feet go numb on an elliptical

However, numbness in the feet can be a sign of a larger medical condition. So, if you’re concerned, and the solutions below don’t make much of a difference, don’t be afraid to visit your doctor.

How do I Stop my Feet from Going Numb on the Elliptical?

There are plenty of things you can do to avoid numbness when using an elliptical. The solutions below are in no particular order, so try whichever ones seem most likely.

Check Your Shoes

As mentioned, tight shoes can be a major cause of numb feet when exercising. There are 2 ways you can solve this. One is to loosen the laces and force yourself to not do them up as tight.

Ideally, you should have two fingers’ width between the eyelets when your shoes are laced. This is quite general advice, though, as it depends on how your shoes fit anyway.

Another test is to make sure they don’t slip when you walk. Also, you should be able to fit a finger comfortably down the side of your foot when wearing the shoes. Providing all this is the case, your shoes are appropriately laced.

Also, make sure your shoes are actually the right size. It’s tempting to always buy shoes in the same size, and to buy slightly smaller ones for exercise so they don’t move around. However, neither of these is true.

First, trainers fit smaller than other shoes. If you’re unsure of your shoe size in trainers, most stores will measure your feet. Consider going a half or whole size up in trainers for the best fit.

Going for smaller trainers isn’t a great idea, either. Providing you lace them properly, there shouldn’t be any movement in them. So, buy the right size and don’t lace them too tight.

Change Your Stance

When moving on an elliptical, it can be tempting to sit on the balls of your feet. But this contributes to the issue of numbness, as you’re putting a lot of pressure on quite a small area.

Instead, work on keeping your feet flat on the foot pedals. It can take a bit of conscious thought to do this, but it spreads out your weight across the soles of your feet, as it should be.

You could also try to mimic the natural walking movement when using an elliptical. Try to shift your weight from heel to toe, as you do normally when walking. Of course, you won’t be lifting your feet up, but it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Go Backward

The constant forward movement on an elliptical means the same areas of your feet are always under pressure. So, if you begin to feel numbness, start pedalling backwards instead.

Doing this changes how the pressure is distributed on your feet, shifting it to the back rather than the front. It allows the front of your feet to decompress and get some blood flowing back into them.

Of course, it’s best to do this before the numbness actually starts. Try changing up your elliptical routine to 5-10 minutes forwards and 5-10 minutes backwards. Not only will this help prevent numbness but it’ll also give your legs a better workout.

Shorten Your Workout Time

Perhaps the most obvious solution is to shorten your workout time or introduce more breaks. Numbness on an elliptical isn’t necessarily associated with lack of practice, although this could be a contributing factor.

If you notice your feet starting to go numb, work a break into your routine before this happens. It can be as simple as stepping off the machine and sitting down or stretching. Wiggling your toes can help stimulate blood flow, so you could try that.

Should I Work Through the Numbness?

While it can be tempting to work through the numbness, seeing it as a sign that your workout is doing its job, it’s not a great idea. Although it won’t necessarily cause any long-term damage (at least not from a minor lack of blood flow), the risks lie elsewhere.

For example, having numb feet can affect your balance because your body has no real perception of where you’re putting them. As you can probably guess, a lack of balance increases your risk of falling.

On a similar note, if your feet are falling asleep when using an elliptical, be very careful when getting off the machine for this reason.

Final Thoughts on Numb Feet When Using an Elliptical

On the whole, numb feet when using a cross trainer isn’t something to be worried about. The causes are usually quite minor, and the sensation will go away in a short time.

However, if the feeling persists or you’re concerned about it, make sure you visit your doctor just to be on the safe side.

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An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!