When feet go numb while striding, it’s called elliptical trainer sleepy foot syndrome. It’s not dangerous and can happen to anyone so don’t think you have been struck with some mysterious medical condition.
Sleepy feet are caused by a lack of circulation when your feet are flat and motionless on the pedals for an extended length of time. It can even happen just standing on your feet. You can prevent it from happening by doing a few things during your workout.
The elliptical trainer sleepy foot syndrome can be alleviated simply by moving your feet slightly during the workout.
You may find that exercising on machines that have oversized pedals and smooth surfaces causes you to reposition your feet frequently (for example, sliding them from the front of the pedal to the rear) in order not to jam your toes. Picking up each foot every few minutes is one way to prevent numbness.
You may experience this quirky syndrome on some machines but not on others. Some ellipticals have footpads that articulate (slanted slightly inward) to help alleviate the problem.
There are also trainers that have a glide path that naturally causes the back of the foot to lift up during the stride. If you are in the market for a front drive elliptical (the flywheel is located at the front of the machine), try to buy one that offers articulating foot pedals which will keep the feet better aligned with your stride and will reduce strain on the feet, ankles, and even your back.
Another aspect of ellipticals that affect elliptical trainer sleepy foot syndrome is the moving handlebars used for an upper body workout. If your machine is equipped with these, you may find that you don’t experience numbness in the feet.
Since the back and forth motion of the swinging arms causes a slight rocking up motion in your heels, the movement prevents the foot from staying completely still and motionless during the elliptical workout so you don’t get sleepy feet.
So there it is – to prevent any numbness in one or both of the feet, you need to avoid riding them flat in the pedals for too long.
Wiggle your toes, slide your foot back from the front in oversized pedals, use the moving arms to naturally lift the heels – all of these slight movements will help eliminate elliptical trainer sleepy foot syndrome.
With a few minor foot adjustments done throughout the workout period, you can prevent the tingling and numbing sensations before they start.
UPDATE: New Year's Elliptical Sales are still on!
Here is your chance to rant or rave about the elliptical you use at home or at the fitness center.