Numb Toes – Causes and Prevention

There are two reasons for numbness in the toes – low blood circulation or nerve damage/medical conditions affecting other parts of the body. Nerve damage is a serious concern that requires treatment by a Podiatrist. But before considering nerve problems, the question of reduced blood flow in the toes must be ruled out. One of the main causes of low blood flow is wearing the wrong shoes.

Why Shoes Affect Circulation

If your toes become numb after you have walked some distance, the chances are that it is because of your shoes. Shoes that are too tight or too short or narrow at the tip may restrict the blood flow. A shoe may feel comfortable but still puts pressure on some parts of the feet reducing the flow of blood. Similarly, a shoe that is slightly shorter or narrower may not cause any tangible discomfort. But here too, the pressure applied on some parts of the foot can affect the blood supply to the toes. Even shoes that are loose can cause problems. Your feet could be sliding forward with each step you take and the movement inside the shoe with fluctuating pressure on the feet can affect the flow of blood to the toes.

Preventing Numb Toes

Choosing the shoe of right size and shape, and lacing it correctly can often eliminate the problem of numb toes.
  • Your feet swell after you walk some distance. The swelling can even increase the size of your feet by one shoe size. The shoes you wear for walking should be looser than your formal shoes. As long as it is not too loose and it does not allow your feet to slide in the shoe, try wearing a walking shoe that is one size larger than what you normally wear. Also, make sure that your walking shoes are wide at the toe and there is room for you to wiggle your toes around in the shoe. This means that there is enough space for smooth blood supply.
  • The way you lace your shoes can also affect the blood supply and lead to numbness of the toes. Ensure that the laces at the toe end are not too tight. Try out various lacing techniques to find the one that gives you the maximum support. If you wear ankle high walking shoes they should be tight around the ankle to provide you with the support you need; and to keep the rear of the foot planted in the heel of the shoe so as to prevent the foot from sliding forward. If getting the right tension at the top and bottom is difficult, you could try using two laces on each shoe – one for the top and one for the toe end. They can be of differing tightness to give you the support and comfort you need.
  • Your stride can be causing your toes to go numb. Some people walk with the ties curled downwards. Others walk with their toes in an upward position. Both of these restrict the natural flattening of the feet in the course of the stride. Both these positions increase the pressure and trauma to the toes and can lead to numbness. Pay attention to the position of your toes as you walk and try to keep them in a relaxed position. The stride should begin with the heel hitting the ground, the foot rolling forward and then the toes pushing the foot up for the next step.
Medical Conditions that Cause Numb Toes

If your toes are numb all the time or you are sure that it is not your shoes or ways of walking that is causing the numbness, consult a podiatrist. There are many medical conditions that can cause numbness of the toes. You can hope for quick cures when the medical ailments are detected earlier.


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