What to Do If Your Leg Goes Numb From Working Out

After spending several minutes running, playing a sport or lifting weights, you may notice that your legs are 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 to the area or bigger underlying complications.

Numbness can occur in leg muscles after a workout. (Image: Westend61/Westend61/GettyImages)

Legs Numb After Workout

Numb muscles after a workout can be 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 disk in your spine can lead to numbness in the leg, which may also hinder mobility and balance.

Symptoms of Numbness

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 if you notice more serious symptoms.

Stop Exercise Activities

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. Loosen or remove any tight clothing or pants you may be wearing.

Seek medical attention immediately if you feel more serious symptoms like nausea, difficulty breathing, severe pain in the legs and loss of consciousness.

Underlying Medical Conditions

In some cases, numb muscles after a workout 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 can 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, a rare condition that presents with burning pain and numbness at the soles, are other underlying conditions to watch 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 or 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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