How to Keep Running With Neuropathy
Tingling, prickling, and sensation loss in the feet can be a dangerous, frustrating, and even scary situation no matter who you are or what you love to do. But for runners, peripheral neuropathy may be especially concerning.
In the early to middle stages of the disease, it may simply be the case that persistent foot pain makes running medium to long (or even short) distances too uncomfortable to enjoy. But as sensation slowly drains away and numbness sets in, the risk of all kinds of injuries—from minor to severe—continues to rise.
Whether or not you are able to keep running with neuropathy is a decision you’ll have to make between you and your doctor, and will depend on your symptoms and your goals. However, the good news is that many people are able to continue running with the right set of precautions and modifications.
But first, let’s talk about what can happen if you don’t take those precautions.
The Dangers: Running with Neuropathy
Now, to be clear, we want to support the runners in our community and help them continue with their favorite form of exercise for as long as possible, even if they have neuropathy. But the risks are real.
For example, if you can’t really feel the way your feet are fitting inside your shoe, you’re more likely to not notice friction and pressure spots. As you continue to run, those sources of unwelcome contact could develop into blisters, toenail injuries, or even ulcers.
At the same time, peripheral neuropathy can make you less steady on your feet and less able to judge the terrain beneath you, increasing your chances of stumbling or falling. And it can also alter your running gait, introducing biomechanical flaws into your mechanics that could trigger pain throughout the legs and back.
Other related problems might include a loss of strength or coordination (which may be symmetrical or asymmetrical between legs) or decreased joint flexibility.
Keeping You Running (if Possible)
If you love to run and notice the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, please come visit Dr. Sanjay Patel (or another appropriate specialist) right away. We’re going to do everything we can to address these issues and keep you running as long as possible, as safely as possible.