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Yes, your feet can fall asleep during a workout—here’s how to prevent it


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Photo: Stocksy/Jovo Jovanovic

Two years ago, on one of the final days of training for a half-marathon, my foot decided to take an unexpected snooze around mile nine, while the rest of my bod had to keep going. “I’ll just run it off,” I thought. But alas, the unbearable tingling continued for several more tortuous minutes before I just had to pull over and take off my shoes. Since then, I can count the number of repeat experiences on one hand: a spin class here, a HIIT session there, another compromised run. But I *still* don’t know what the heck causes your feet to fall asleep mid-workout. Are other workout warriors, er, walking in my same (now extremely uncomfy) shoes?

“It is very common for runners or bicyclists to feel like their feet are asleep while working out,” says Kavita Sharma, MD of New York’s Manhattan Pain and Sports Associates.”These exercises put a lot of pressure on the soles of the feet which compresses nerves and leads to the numbness.” In other words, just like sitting on one foot too long during a summer picnic might spark that ants-crawling-up-and-down-your-feet feeling, so too can your go-to, high-impact modes of exercise.

No need to panic though, cardio lovers: According to the doc, the solve for this prob is as simple as making sure you’re sporting the right size sneaker. “Your shoes should not be too tight. Tight shoes can also further compress the nerves leading to the feeling that your feet are asleep,” Dr. Sharma explains. Choosing your perfect pair will ensure that your feet remain normal throughout the course of your all your sweaty endeavors. (Pros say you should have about a thumb’s worth of room in your sneaks from the longest toe.)

Victor Romano, MD, an Illinois-based orthopedic surgeon, adds that taking time to stretch out your feet—by either sitting on top of them or placing one at a time against the wall at an angle—can also keep your nerves happy. If one does fall asleep anyway though, he says that your body will try to compensate for the numbness in other ways. So make sure to cut your exercise short in the name of staving off injuries elsewhere in the bod.

That’s certainly, *ahem*, foot for thought—isn’t it?

Happy feet week! Here’s how to keep your feet from smelling. Plus, pedicurists share the most common problems they find on people’s feet.

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