Answered by Suzanna Markstein on Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Don't worry, "stairclimber's foot" isn't debilitating. "It's a neurological nuisance, but it won't cause any long-term damage," says exercise physiologist Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM, senior vice president of Research and Development in Sports Medicine for StairMaster. "It's due to compression of the interdigital nerve, which runs under the forefoot. It's similar to the phenomenon that occurs when you lie on your arm and it goes to sleep." There are a few things you can do to avoid going all tingly while you're climbing. First, make sure that your shoes fit properly—a Stanford University study found that people whose shoes weren't wide enough in the toe box were more likely to go numb. And don't lace your sneakers too tight. When you're on the machine, move your foot around on the pedal so you change the contact point of the load. "People tend to stay on the balls of the feet, jogging in place," says Bryant, causing all their weight to press on the nerve. "To distribute the load across the foot, use a flat-footed approach, and keep two-thirds to three-quarters of your foot on the step."