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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown
Nutritionist

Janet Aylott
Nutritionist

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Q.

Why am I getting numbness in my feet?

Hi, When I do spinning/cycling or use the stepper machine at the gym, after about 10 minutes my feet go tingly yet it doesn?t happen with any other exercise..why is this?

A.

Our expert says...

Hi,

Okay, good news is what you are experiencing is quite common and can affect individuals when they use a X-trainer, stationary bike, take part in spinning classes or use the stepper machine. These non-impact activities can cause tingling and/or numbness in the feet and this relates to a build of pressure in the lower leg that can temporarily affect blood flow and the nervous system.

It can occur when someone is not used to the exercise or it can actually be as simple as shoelaces or pedal fastenings being too tight or inadequate footwear. Alternatively, it can be related to muscle tension and lack of flexibility in the lower leg that is exacerbated by the pressure build up. When the calf muscles (lower leg muscles) are too short, they lack the flexibility needed to prevent undue pressure build up and waste product collection in the lower leg. The outcome can be inflammation, blood vessel restriction and nerve compression, hence the resulting symptoms of numbness, pins & needles, shooting pains and cramps.

So consider the following:

1) You need to ensure you have variety in your exercise plan and not put your lower limbs through repetitive stress with long duration (i.e. hours at a time) doing the same movement. So, vary how you are exercising and in the short-term don't do anything that gives you the same symptoms you have been experiencing.

2) If/when you feel the symptom that is your time to stop and rest, which is my second suggestion...rest and stretch your calf muscles - DAILY!! Calf stretch:

- Put a book/box (about 3-4inches high) against a wall and from standing position facing wall, place the ball of your right foot on it.

- Ensure that your right heel is in contact with the floor. Now bring your left foot in close to the other, but not on the step, this is your main weight bearing leg while you strecth your right calf.

- Now straighten your right leg fully! (I don't often recommend locking out joints, but for this stretch it is important and safe)

- With the right leg straight, try to take your hips as close to the wall as possible till you feel a pulling sensation up the back of your lower leg. Don't force it, only take it to where it feels comfortably uncomfortable!

- Hold this stretch for a MINIMUM of 30seconds, any less and you achieve nothing! The muscle needs time to learn and relax with what you are doing.

You need to do this stretch as often as possible at the moment to help lengthen the tight muscles that are compressing the nerve/blood vessels. Stretching will also help drain waste products out of the lower leg and speed the recovery process. Even when everything settles down make sure you continue to do this stretch because it has a powerful preventative purpose.

3) Check footwear – ensure the laces are not excessively tight and that your footwear isn’t worn to the point that it lacks support and stability for the foot. If you use pedal straps in the spinning classes then ensure they are fitted correctly over the shoe and not too tight. Also, it may be worth just re-checking that seat height is also appropriate for you in the classes and when using a normal exercise bike – just to exclude all possible variables that may be contributing your symptoms.

4) Another excellent option that would undoubtedly help (if you haven’t tried this already) is to get a sports massage for your legs. Deep tissue release is a powerful way (far more than stretching) to reset muscle tissue length and improve circulation and waste product removal from the tissues. You would likely feel the difference after just one massage.

I hope this helps,

Kelly

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