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Help! I have a strange sensation in my feet


I started running last year with the intention of doing the Comrades Marathon this year. When running marathons I used to feel numbness in my right foot. At times it felt like pins and needles. Sometimes when I went for a run of 30km or more, I didn’t feel anything, but on the next short run I felt discomfort! I cancelled my longest training run of 56km so that I wouldn’t aggravate the problem, and bought a new pair of Asics (Cumulus 11) in September last year. I bought another pair of Asics (Nimbus 11) before Two Oceans with the intention of wearing them for the Comrades. What is causing this sensation in my feet? – HAMID SANGLAY, CAPE TOWN

Experiencing a sensation of pins and needles on the right foot only is usually a type of paraesthesia. Any type of numbness or pins and needles sensation is usually a neural problem. This means that a nerve may have been pinched or injured in some way.

Start by having your biomechanics assessed. If you are a pronator in a neutral shoe, this could be the cause. Another cause could be incorrect lacing, narrow fitting shoes or incorrect sizing of shoes. If you’re experiencing this between the third and fourth toes, or the second and third toes, you could have a Morton’s neuroma tumour. This is treated with metatarsal pads, correct shoes and perhaps corticosteroid injections into the area. If the neuroma is large enough, it could be surgically excised.

If you are experiencing it on both feet and not in one specific area, it may be important not to rule out systemic disorders such as diabetes.


Modern Athlete Expert
Podiatrist in private practice at Dunvegan Medical Centre in Edenvale, Johannesburg.