Why do I get pins and needles in my feet when I run?

Get pins and needles in your feet when you run? Sports injury rehab expert Nick Beer explains causes and solutions

Credit: James Mitchell

 Pins and needles, or paraesthesia, as it’s medically known, is an abnormal skin sensation such as tingling, pricking, numbness or burning. There appears to be no apparent cause, but there are several things that can exacerbate it:


Overly tightened laces. When going for a run or in transition, it’s common to tie shoe laces tightly, so your foot feels secure. This can puts pressure on the nerves at the top of your foot, causing compression and irritation.

Poor circulation. This could be an ongoing condition, or caused by unusually cold temperatures. Blood will be diverted to working muscles and vital organs, leaving extremities vulnerable.

Bio-mechanical imbalance. Running regularly with incorrect alignment may result in a ‘trapped’ or ‘restricted’ nerve in the foot. This could be due to poor running technique or significant weaknesses in the legs.

Regularly stretching calf muscles can help alleviate signs of pins and needles, but if it persists, consult a physio or podiatrist for further examination of foot mechanics and movement patterns.