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Phil Canto
01-23-2005, 11:06 PM
One of our athletes was complaining about numbness in one of her feet during the WODs. My first thought was something as tangible as shoes, but she dispelled this quickly...Anyone have experience on numbness in the feet during WODs? I was thinking pressure on the nerves in the lower back region (sciatica?).

PC

Dan Silver
01-24-2005, 01:21 AM
The ex-paramedic's advice... It could be as simple as poorly fitted shoes or socks (too tight, bumpy in the wrong places, etc). Or, the room could just be cold enough that her extremities never really open up enough to allow full blood flow. Nicotine and caffine can make people more prone to this (I can vouch for that). Also, another possibility is that she is hyperventilating. Hyperventilation can cause numbness in the extremities, a tight feeling in the chest, numbness in the lips, dizziness and eventually blackout. It is not a serious condition as the body has a natural 're-start' mechanism built in (you have to black out first though). But, I'll note that this isn't normally a unilateral condition. I'd take a look at her while she works out and make sure she's breathing properly, regardless. Also, have her try a WOD barefoot. That should solve the shoe mystery quickly.

The more serious possibilities are infection, pinching of the nerve, and circulation problems due to vascular disease or clotting. These are all treatable conditions but need to be diagnosed by a physician. If the barefoot thing and breathing thing don't change her status, urge her to see her MD.


-D.

David Werner
01-24-2005, 10:03 AM
Phil

I haven't felt part of my right foot in years, due to nerve damage in the lumbar spine. So yes it could be disc issues. There isn't really a medical fix for this unless it gets bad enough to require surgery, that's something to be avoided at all costs.

The real long term management solution is proper posture. For good posture in the context of working out see Journal issue #5 (I think), for a discussion on muted hip function. Coach has drawn some helpfull stick figure anatomy, which will make coaching the right posture easier.

Achieving a solid "neutral spine", bracing properly during lifting, and effectively flexing/extending the hip is critical for spinal health and athletic performance.

So check out all of Dans advice, but regardless of the outcome make sure her posture/mechanics are perfect.

Regards
Dave Werner
Crossfit North

Beth Moscov
01-24-2005, 10:52 AM
Dave,

I tend to use a lot of physical cues to know my form is good. How do you compensate for that with numbness in your foot? Do you (or did you at first) pay extra attention to that leg/foot? This isn't an issue for me but I am curious on how to coach someone through this kind of thing.

Beth

Matt Toupalik
01-24-2005, 11:41 AM
I had been experiencing numbness that originated in my left foot and at times, travelled up my leg into my groin and right buttock.This was due to a herniated disc in the L4-L5 region.I was told the numbness would disappear in time.

I haven't experienced any significant numbness since starting rehab over a month ago, but I also haven't been doing exercises or activities which place stress on the lumbar spine.If it reoccured, I would see it as a warning sign.

William Hunter
01-24-2005, 12:20 PM
Besides everything above, you might consider peripheral nerve entrapment, especially if there is no low back discomfort at all. Disks can be "sneaky", but most hurt in the lumbar area if they're affecting your feet. Nerves to the feet can be trapped in the shin area, especially with vigorous physical activity. I've also seen a trigger point in the extensor digitorum longus (a muscle from under the knee to the top of the foot) that had basically blanked the middle three toes of the foot (top of foot was only numb part).

David Werner
01-26-2005, 12:07 AM
Beth

I don't know how to answer your question directly. You are right of course, we must use physical cues to learn good technique. Learning to feel the various body parts' relative position and then to control those relationships IS technique. But I don't know how I compensated - just payed attention to what I could and kept after it until it worked.

Things seem to work the same when coaching others, You keep trying different coaching cues until something you say registers with the trainee. As an example, when coaching someone with little hip function to squat you would demonstrate a good squat, tell them to fold at the hips, not let the knees track too far forward, keep weight on their heels, keep back flat etc, etc. After weeks of such coaching with no breakthrough you might say "just push your butt back as you descend" and boom they get it. Leaving you scratching your head because you've been telling them how to do it the whole time.

Regards
Dave Werner
Crossfit North

Phil Canto
01-26-2005, 04:49 PM
Thanks for all of the great responses! I had an opportunity to watch her closely during a WOD yesterday. There is certainly some breathing issues that we discussed post-workout, that if they don't help the numbness, will assist her in other areas for sure (power output, etc.). During the WOD, I stayed on her to ensure that form was good in the squat and the weightlifting we were doing. She has an appointment with someone this week as well, so that outcome will be interesting. In my experience you'll see knee-jerk reactions from the medical/chiropractic field (Don't do anything, lie on your back, take two of these 4x a day...). But that’s a whole other thread entirely...


Phil