Although most physical fitness enthusiasts will experience some soreness and pain after a workout, there will be a certain percentage of exercisers who will experience numbness.
Numbness refers to decreased or abnormalities in sensation caused by alterations in the functions of sensory nerves. It can be a sudden decrease in one’s feeling. It can also present as tingling or the “pins and needles” effect. Numbness develops as a result of impingement or pressure upon a nerve and/or blood vessels. Such a pressure develops during workouts when you repeat the same movements over and over again or you remain in a single or static position, and it frequently occurs in the extremities or limbs. This can only be relieved if you eliminate the cause of the pressure on the nerves and blood vessels.
Let us take a look at some conditions that may cause numbness after exercise.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is numbness in the hands and fingers caused by impingement of the nerve in the wrist. On the other hand, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is numbness caused by impingement of nerves in the anterior shoulder or neck. These conditions are usually caused by specific weightlifting exercises that may cause the wrists, elbows and shoulders to be moved in positions that may result in pressure on the nerve. Good examples of such exercises include dumbbell flys and incline dumbbell curls. If you feel numbness when perform any of the arm and upper body exercises, stop what you are doing and make the necessary corrections in your lifting technique. You can also minimize occurrences of CTS and TOS by performing dynamic range-of-motion exercises and static stretches.
Using Gym Equipment
Numbness has been noted in the fingers and hands when using gym equipment that require a tight grip. Such equipment would include a stationary bike, treadmill, stair climber or elliptical machine. When using such equipment, it is important that you shift the positions of your hands occasionally or taking brief breaks by raising each hand in the air and shaking them. Numbness may also develop while you are lifting barbells and dumbbells. Once you feel the onset of numbness or tingling, you must stop lifting weights so that you can prevent accidents caused by suddenly losing your grip on the bar.
Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome (CECS)
Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome is characterized by numbness and tingling in the legs and feet. This condition develops as a result of increasing muscle size because of increased blood flow to the tissues. The muscle itself is surrounded by fascia, which does not stretch. As the muscle expands within the fascia, there is a building up of pressure with the muscle-fascia compartment, causing impingement of nerves and blood vessels. The symptoms of CECS usually develop within 8 to 12 minutes of starting your exercise. They should disappear when you are 30 minutes well into your workout. However, if the symptoms persist for 2 hours or more, you need to seek emergency medical help since you might have acute compartment syndrome (prolonged pressure on the nerves and muscle causes ischemia or blocking of blood supply).
Learn more about how you can relieve numbness after exercise while building muscles today!