The major benefit of elliptical training is that you can exercise with minimal impact on your knees and joints. For your entire workout, you won’t actually have to lift your feet off a surface and put them back down again. But that’s where some people have problems with elliptical workouts. Keeping constant pressure on your feet for longer periods of time will cause them to go numb.
Because you don’t have to move your feet or your toes while exercising on an elliptical machine, you can start to feel numbness as early as 10 minutes into your workout due to lack of actual foot movement. This can be a large nuisance for some, for others it’s never a problem, and for most it can be dealt with easily.
Some people will experience numbness on an elliptical and others will not—even on the same exact machine. It all depends on the design of the elliptical and if it was meant for you. Sometimes the stride length doesn’t fit you correctly, and others you could benefit from articulating foot pedals.
The numbness may not set in until after you’ve been working out for a long time, or it may set in early but usually you’ll be able to identify the onset of the numbness before it feels completely numb. When you start to feel the warning, tingling signals or even way before you even notice that the numbness may be approaching, you can try to move your feet a little bit to prevent or alleviate the numbness.
Prevent elliptical foot numbness
- try wiggling your toes
- reposition your feet on the foot plates
- shift your weight onto the balls of your feet or your heels, or rock back and forth between both
- try not to keep too much of your weight on the balls of your feet
- loosen your shoe laces or getting better shoes with arch support
- change directions by going backward on an elliptical
- use an elliptical with pivoting (articulating) foot pedals
If you notice that numbness is a problem when you use an elliptical machine, try focusing on your feet a little bit more before the numbness even begins to start. Focusing on keeping your feet from falling asleep before it happens, may prevent the numbness from setting in at all. You may be able to prevent the tingling or numbness from even starting if you try to keep equal amounts of pressure on between the front and heel of your foot, while mixing up some minimal movements during your exercise.
If the numbness is something that sets in late in your workout and trying to avoid it or alleviate it doesn’t work, try splitting your workout up into shorter time periods, or getting off to take an occasional lap from room to room.
I’ve noticed that over time, my experience with my feet tingling and feeling numb during elliptical exercise has been concentrated in one foot. But over time, I have been able to almost eliminate the feelings of numbness from my workouts and apply great focus to ensuring that my elliptical machine body posture and foot position is correct. Over time, you too should be able to see a reduction in the problem and if it progressively gets worse you may have another medical problem, such as a foot neuroma.