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 feet get numb on 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 and Hurt When I’m on the Elliptical?

Your feet fall asleep and can sometimes be painful 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 feet numb on elliptical.

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 your foot going numb on elliptical.

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, feet going numb on elliptical 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 foot going numb on 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 feet numb on elliptical. 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.

Are you supposed to lift your heels on elliptical?

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

Change Your Stance

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 the machine means the same areas of your feet are always under pressure. So, if you begin to feel your feet get numb on elliptical, 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 feet numb on elliptical 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.

Why Do My Toes Go Numb on the Elliptical

The reason your toes go numb on the elliptical is because your soles of your feet aren’t in a fixed position. This pressure causes the nerves to compress which cuts oxygen off to the toes. Although it may sound dangerous, don’t worry its completely normal, but it can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

How to Stop Toes From Falling Asleep on Elliptical

This part is easy! Simply shift your weight from the soles of your feet into your heels. When the weight is shifted to your heels and your feet are flat, the oxygen can spread through the foot evenly.

One precautionary measure you can take is to check your footwear. There should be a bit more slack on the laces than normal so that theres a bit more breathing space in the show. Ideally make sure there is half an inch of space at the front of the shoe to give opportunity for circulation and space.

Foot Goes Numb on Elliptical – Final Thoughts

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!