Why do my toes tingle?

Article by: Margot Manning podiatrist and running coach

Why do my toes tingle?

5 causes of tingling in the toes

Tingling toes are a common sensation experienced by some when running as well when wearing day to day shoes. The main reason for tingling to occur is from pressure on a nerve.  Running can cause continual pressure on nerves from long term repetitive motion and the resultant swelling of feet. Tingling occurs if either shoes are too small, or there is an underlying injury. Don’t think it is your shoes – what do you need to look out for?

Five common tingling toes injuries

  1. Neuritis: Inflammation of the nerves that run between the


    bones at the ball of the feet. This is usually resolved by changing footwear and lacing.

  2. Neuroma: Thickening of the nerve at the ball of the foot where it fills up the available space and hurts even when not active. Both footwear, podiatry and sometimes surgery are necessary depending on the progression of the symptoms.
  3. Bursitis: Fluid filled sacs become enlarged due to pressure between the heads of the metatarsals (long bone of the feet). These fill the space between the bones and put added pressure on the nerves. Footwear, podiatry and if no resolution, a visit to a sports doctor for cortisone injections may be needed.
  4. Synovitis or joint capsulitis: Inflammation of the fluid within the toe joint, usually from trauma (e.g. landing badly on a rock) or when the head of the metatarsals are driven into the ground. The latter is a biomechanical problem that needs to be addressed with podiatry care. Like bursitis, the increase in size of the joint can put pressure on the adjacent nerve creating tingling as a secondary symptom.
  5. Plantar plate tear: The plantar plate is a strong fibrous structure that sits beneath each of the joints at the ball of the foot. Its role is to withstand the high loads at these joints and to create stability. If the toes are over extended repetitively or with excessive force (e.g. running up hills), thickening or a small tear can develop in the plantar plate. Over time, the affected toe can drift apart from its adjacent toe, and develop both synovitis and a claw toe. These changes to the joint integrity can lead to subtle tingling of the toes.

Tightshoes_TinglingtoesOf the five injuries, plantar plate tears are the least common, but the most misdiagnosed. This is because there can be a combination of symptoms from the other four injuries above.  This can lead to unsuccessful treatment plans and ongoing frustration for the runner.

Don’t ignore tingling toes. Whilst it is often a footwear isolated issue that can be relieved by; wearing thinner socks, specific lacing techniques or changing the shoe itself. If your tingling toes are not relieved by these adjustments there may be an underlying injury that is the cause. Book in to see one of our podiatrists at intraining Running Injury Clinic for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Our podiatry team are all runners and understand how frustrating an injury can be. We know you want to get back out and run injury free as quickly as possible.

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Comfy feet are happy feet

Article by Emily Donker. Podiatrist, coach and triathlete
Article by Emily Donker.
Podiatrist, coach and triathlete

Comfy feet are happy feet

How much time do you spend in your running shoes each week? And how much time do you spend in work shoes, casual shoes and barefoot?

When assessing and treating running injuries, optimising comfort and function in your running shoes is often a key component of the resolution. However, a majority of runners will only spend 2-10hours per week training and wearing their running footwear, and comparatively will work 40+ hours, walking many incidental km’s wearing inappropriate footwear or being barefoot at home.

Together with your podiatrist, you should consider your everyday footwear choices. Simple changes can make a big difference to improving injury symptoms and prognosis.

Many different instances of forefoot pain can be more effectively managed with sensible footwear. Below are a list of common injuries with tips on footwear choice to help you manage pain during your day to day life.

Common injuries and footwear choice tips

Inflammatory injuries

Inflammatory injuries such as bursitis are aggravated by increased plantar pressure, so it’s important to avoid being barefoot and ensure shoes are soft, cushioned. Running shoes and Oofos thongs are great choices.

Neuroma injuries (eg: pins and needles)


A spacious and non-restrictive fit is essential for relieving neuritis issues and Neuroma because tight-fitting shoes will increase pressure to the inter-digital nerves and aggravate symptoms. Footwear should not have any tight straps or lacing across the broadest part of the foot.

Bone stress

Bone stress to the metatarsals should be offloaded with correctly positioned support, and in some instances a specific boot. Alternatively, footwear choices should be as rigid as possible to prevent excessive flexion and torsional strain.

Forefoot pain

High heels are a particularly damaging choice for all instances of forefoot pain because they significantly increase force and load through the forefoot, so should be avoided when possible.

Make appointmentRemember – comfortable feet are happy feet! If you have a running injury that is causing you pain in your day to day life, make an appointment to see a podiatrist at intraining Running Injury Clinic. Interested in reading more articles written by our running injury expert clinicians? Click here to read more ‘From the Sole’