My Leg Is Numb After Working Out

Elevated view of a young couples arms clasped during a workout
Post-workout leg numbness is manageable, but can also indicate an underlying condition. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

After spending several minutes running, playing a sport or lifting weights, you may notice that your leg is starting to feel numb. The tingling sensations can develop and last for several minutes. You may even feel other symptoms along with it, indicating a minor lack of blood flow in the area or bigger underlying complications.

How Exercise Can Make It Numb

Exercise can make your leg numb due to lack of blood supply to the area. When you perform sustained movements for several minutes such as maintaining a yoga position or lifting very heavy weights in repetitive motions, blood flow can slow down in your legs, causing numbness and tingling sensations. In other cases, you may have a pinched nerve in your leg or lower back. A herniated spine can lead to numbness in the leg, which may also hinder mobility and balance.

Symptoms of the Numbness

Female gymnast walking on balance beam, low section
The thighs, calves and hamstrings are the common sites of numbness after an exercise. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

During exercise, you may initially feel numb in a specific area, like your thigh, hamstring or calf muscle. You might also notice other symptoms like tingling sensations, minor loss of movement or limited range of motion, paleness in color of the affected area and stiffness. Later on, you may notice muscle weakness, dizziness, nausea, muscle spasm and pain. Go to a hospital immediately when you notice more serious symptoms.

Stop Exercising

As soon as you feel some numbness and a tingling sensation in your legs, stop the exercise immediately. Lie down or sit with your legs elevated to improve blood flow to the area. Avoid moving the legs and keep stationary for 10 to 20 minutes. Apply hot compress and remove any tight clothing or pants you may be wearing. Contact an ambulance immediately if you feel more serious symptoms like nausea, difficulty breathing, severe pain in the legs and loss of consciousness.

Underlying Conditions

In some cases, leg numbness may be caused by meralgia paresthetica or Bernhardt-Roth syndrome. The condition occurs when one of the large sensory nerves is compressed, thereby causing a burning sensation or pain in your outer thigh. When the nerves are compressed, you will feel tingling sensations in the area. Some of the causes of meralgia paresthetica include weight gain, tight clothes and repetitive movement of the legs. The main goal in such occurrences is to remove the compression. Stepper’s foot, when the foot goes numb while using a step exercise machine, and tarsal tunnel syndrome, or the rare condition that presents with burning pain and numbness at the soles, are other underlying conditions to watch out for.

Caveats and Risks

Be cautious of tingling sensations that last over an hour or cause other symptoms like limited range of motion or immobility, pain, trouble urinating, rashes in the area, nausea, dizziness and loss of balance. See a doctor immediately if the symptoms persist or get worse. In some cases, arteries may be blocked or narrowed by deposits, causing numbness and tingling in the legs. This can be indicative of PAD or peripheral artery disease and requires immediate medical attention.

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