Runners at all levels might experience tingling and numbness in the fingertips. The sensation is usually more of a nagging irritation than a medical problem; however, it can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.
Understanding the causes of your tingling and numbness can help you determine a solution.
Tingling Fingers After Running
Our bodies function with physical survival as a goal. During exercise, blood is allocated to the areas of our bodies that need it most. Running demands extensive use of lower body muscles, which means that blood is mainly distributed to the legs.
The large leg muscles need the flow of blood more than the hands to meet the demands being placed on the body. Unfortunately, this can cause less blood flow to the fingers than usual, which can result in tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers while running.
Blood Vessels Tighten
While performing intense physical activities, such as running, our bodies experience real-time changes. One such change occurs in our cardiovascular system, which is comprised of the heart and blood vessels.
Its job is to circulate blood throughout your body. However, the changes to blood vessels alters the flow of blood to body parts. Vascular constriction is the act of blood vessels tightening and offering a smaller passageway for blood according to HealthPages.org.
This results in limited or delayed blood flow to the fingers, which can result in a tingling in your arms and hands after exercise or numbness.
Numbness From Raynaud's Disease
Raynaud's disease is a condition that causes some areas of your body to feel numb in cold temperatures or during times of physical or emotional stress. The smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin become narrow, limiting blood circulation to the outer extremities.
While running, the flow of blood can be reduced by adrenaline, which is released during times of high physical stress or anxiety. In this situation, a runner who suffers from Raynaud's disease may feel numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers when their hands get warm again according to Mayo Clinic.
Iron Deficiency and Anemia
Both iron deficiency and anemia, which are common conditions among runners, can contribute to pins and needles in your hands when running, mainly because your hands get cold. Ensure that you get enough iron in your diet via food or supplements according to Seattle Marathon.
Avoid smoking and heavy caffeine use because they contribute to vascular constriction. Wear gloves while running to keep your hands warm and limit tingling and numbness.
Ulnar Nerve Entrapment
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the compression of the ulnar nerve can cause a condition known as "cubital tunnel syndrome." The most noticeable symptoms are tingling and numbness in the hands and fingers.
Runners may wear the proper and best-fitting running shoes and are aware of their foot placement; but sometimes they let their arms flap and that could irritate the ulnar nerve at the elbow. ACE Fitness recommends that runners keep their arms bent at 90 degrees while they run.
- American Academy of Orthpaedic Surgeons: "Ulnar Nerve Entrapment at the Elbow (Cubital Tunnel Syndrome)"
- Seattle Marathon: "The Real Story Behind Running and Low Iron"
- ACE Fitness: "5 Essential Tips for Improving Running Form"
- MayoClinic.org: "Raynaud's Disease"
- HealthPages.org: "How to Relieve Vasoconstriction – A Definitive Guide"