View Full Version : tingling/numbness during stretching....

10-23-2007, 01:36 AM
So I've decided to pick my lazy butt off the couch and start making some lifestyle changes, starting with a healthy diet and exercise. As you guys probably know, I have 2 herniations in my lower back, but the doctors have mixed opinions on whether or not it could be causing pain in my feet, so I have decided to hold off on surgery.... anyways, when I stretch, especially during the touching toes or the straight leg raise stretch, my feet start to tingle and eventually go a little numb. My legs are fine, just my feet tingle/go slightly numb. It gets better when I release the stretch. Any ideas on what this could mean? Thanks.

10-23-2007, 03:51 AM
about the exercise you choose, and stretches.

Can you get a referral to PT(physical therapy)? I think it would be wise to have
some guidance in how to stretch, what to stretch and how much, etc.
You don't want to continue to strain any pre-existing problem.

I have seen great results with people who have back issues (some severe)
by guided exercises involving the inflatable balls, and using the rubber straps.
One gal I worked with eliminated almost all her pain, which was severe.
But this was taught at physical therapy.

Also males do not have the fluid retention issues that females have, but I have to wonder if you are consuming too much salt. Those feelings seem familiar to me when I have fluid retention events. One pickle you know, can do alot damage to people who have tendencies towards being salt sensitive. (this is typically genetically controlled).

10-23-2007, 04:36 AM
Well I did do physical therapy a few years back with no success, so I know the exercises and stretches I should do for my lower back.. and what's this thing about salt? I was thinking that it was nerve compression/circulation because it feels exactly like a foot falling asleep... I also have this sensation when I sit on the floor with my legs stretched out.

10-23-2007, 04:57 AM
When you sit on a hard surface, you can compress the nerves in the buttocks (sciatic) and create paresthesias...odd feelings. The ischial tuberosity bone onthe bottom of the pelvis can make the feet go numb because you are squeezing tissues between two hard surfaces.

People vary in their responses to pressure. These are called pressure palsies when severe. You might see that term on this board now and then.

When you retain fluid (due to too much salt--or hypothyroidism or pregnancy for women etc), your hands and feet may compress nerves in the wrists and ankles giving these sensations too. That is when I know I need my diuretic, which I don't like to take. One Lasix and I am good for another week or two. I just sprang for some nice pickles, so I am suffering today. This is much more common in women with their hormone fluctuations. So if you eat alot of salty foods, this can aggravate numbness/tingling if you already have that.

10-23-2007, 06:11 AM
--during certain parts of my exercise routine.

They do not always occur, and do not occur in the same wasy always when they do, but I get a range of tinglings, pricking, feelings of warmth/cold, and the like when I am really trying to extend and work certain body parts.

Fortunately, so far none of these have been permanent, and they eventually fade, though sometimes it takes days.

I've written before that I am fiarly convinced that those of us with any kind of nerve damage are and will be more prone to the type of compressive effects that Mrs. D describes--the added mechanical pressure on already damaged nerves (the so called "double-crush phenomenon") produces symptoms in us that a "normal" person would not likely get.

Also, keep in mind that healing and reconnected nerves cause their own weird sensations. As the nerve growth cones fight through other tissue trying to re-establish connections, they are very vulnerable to compressive effects, and often produce weird feelings. Eventually, the brain learns how to better interpret these, but that may take quite a while (and it is unlikely that the re-wiring will be in exactly the same configuration as the original, and it probably won't be quite as complete, either--"slow, partial recovery" is more the way things seem to go).

10-23-2007, 06:55 PM
Often when I do hamstring stretches my feet will start tingling and itch. sometimes when I am squatting over and balancing on my feet, my feet are getting stretched and they will start to burn.

Sometimes when I use my hands too much they will also burn.

I think it's the effect of the nerves being stimulated.

10-23-2007, 07:16 PM
after doing any exercise! But, as David/Wings42 espouses, any exercise is a durn sight better than none? You really encounter vascular/blood and lymph problems if you don't move. The less you move, the worse it can be or get.
The balance has always been with PN'ers to BALANCE the doing to the overdoing. Not an easy thing?

There are lots of passive 'resistance' exercises and Pilates that one can adapt to use at home without lots of 'rich equipment'. Thing is the doing, by starting to do/try things in little bits, not reps of 10x10 but rather reps of 5x5 building up to ten then ten X ten....well snails win this race?

These are two good sites that could help you work on specific areas needing work:


If you have not had any PT[physical therapy] at all, this stuff probably won't make sense. Once you have been thru a 'drill' tho, you can figure out what works for your or not.

Neuros usually do NOT think of PT as a frontline defense in self-preservation. Wish they did? But, I have never had a neuro or other doc refuse me a script. Some PT places are zero'es in terms of helping US PN'ers tho...they PUSH AND PUSH too hard in the wrong ways...Sooo. check out area PT sources, and what your insurance covers....Go and Watch a few folks 'get their workouts' and see how the patients are treated, if with respect and knowledge and a good study background in what this all has done to us...you can go much much farther than you think you could. ASK on your next doctor visit....you will probably walk out with an 'order' in your hands.

Alone - I have learned that I need some sort of 'structure' to keep me 'at it'! I have not found any what I would call 'tweener' types of self-directed PT sources out there -where I am, suitable for ME. You might just get lucky. I sure hope so. Some exercises seem silly and pointless in the doing, but really DO help in the long run. - j

10-23-2007, 09:22 PM
Aussie99, do you think it could be related to your back issues that you've had in the past?

10-23-2007, 11:19 PM
I also have had an operation on L3-L4 &L4-L5 and have lived with this bad back,and neck and now also thoracic spine for over 8 years. I am convinced that the pain from Pn and and burning that comes from a bad back are as different as day and night.

A bad back will cause sciatica,burning,aching,and even numbness. But I don't think it will cause itching,prickling,pulsating nor the vibrations that we have with PN.

When I do my stretches,as I stretch I actually get itchy prickly feet. That's the nerves being stretched and stimulated. I have a galley kitchen which is basically all lower cabinets. So I have to squat down to get things. By squating I mean I am sitting on my own legs and balancing my weight on me feet,as me feet stretch they start to prickle and burn. That is definately my PN and not me back.

At my very very worst, which was back in 2001, my back hurt so badly that my body actually looked deformed. I was twisted and pulled and mangled up,and I never had these "parasthesis".

If you are lying down resting comfortably, do you have any parasthesis?

10-24-2007, 02:05 AM
When I lay down, my feet feel a lot better, most times it's unnoticable. I think I do have a little parasthesis, but not nearly as much as when I'm stretching/sitting with my legs straight out. But then again, I never lay down with my shoes on, and that seems to be the biggest problem right now, walking around/sitting down @ work in shoes.

10-24-2007, 03:52 AM
that would cause tingling/numbness in feet would most likely travel down your legs, and effectively give you some odd sensation in at least part of your leg. Usually spinal problems will also not cause identical symtoms in both limbs/feet either. If both of your feet are tingling/burning at the same time in the same pattern, more or less, it is most probably not the back.

As I have said, I have had spinal issues 8 years and when I first came down with PN, an orthopedic and a neurologist in consult advised that this might be stemming from my lumbar originally. I knew then it was not possible.

it is very possible to have PN from some unknown or not yet evident cause,and also have PN from spine as well. 2 seperate conditions overlapping and confusing you.

Now due to the limited ability to diagnose over the net, I am taking my best guess as someone who has both PN and herniated discs in the same area.

Are you going to see a neurologist? Have you had an MRI? Have you had any testing?

10-24-2007, 04:02 AM
Yeah I am seeing a neuro, a one that believes that a fasting glucose of 110 is OK. Anyways, I've seen 3 neurosurgeons for my spine. One says do surgery, one says NO, and one says go conservative and then surgery if it doesn't help. I'm going to see a fourth in a couple of weeks. MRI of lumbar, two herniated, not ruptured, not very severe, but there is some compression on both sides. I've had vitamin tests, and an NCS, that's it. I'm thinking of changing to another neuro.

10-24-2007, 04:50 PM
There are a few memebers on this board hat attribute pre-diabetes to their PN. Maybe a change in diet would help you, and maybe also look at a supplement that stabalises blood sugars like Chromium & Vitamin D?

As far as surgery is concerned, I now know 5 people including myself who have undergone the operation. I also have a top surgeon meself over here. What happens is they remove the prolapsed disc material, and ofcourse that would release the pressure from any pinched nerve roots immediately.

So if you had sciatica and problems with your legs due to the herniated discs that would most likely resolve. But...once your back is damaged, it will always be your achilles heel... operation or no operation. My operation gave me relief for about 2 years. Then I started having back pain again,and 8 years on I have the same 2 discs reherniate. Me dad has had 2 operations on the same discs for the same reason. Me cousin has had her operation last just 4 years and no is trying to have another one.

Me surgeon told me I have a good degree of scar tisue which has built up in the old opertaion site,and now I have limited mobility and ofcourse some athritis. So the doctor that advises you to do everything conservative first, is probably the wisest, as he is also recognising that people have operations because they sometimes get to the end of their rope.

By the time I had my operaton, I was on the phone to my parents crying every night. I was having massages daily. I was begging my 75 year old grandmother to masssage my back. I couldn't even hold my child. My body was twisted and in spasm. I couldn't sleep or eat, and I was popping pain killers most likely to dangerous doses. I had lost all touch with reality. When I finally saw the surgeon who was to perform the operation, I couldn't even get on the table for an examination, nor drive myself there, and I burst into tears when he shook my hand. My husband and my father had to carry me to the hospital as I was unable to walk by that time. People looked at me in pitty, and always offered me a seat or a chair everywhere I went. An elderly woman got up from her seat on the bus and had offered it to me. I was so desperate that I even accepted it. I had home delivery of groceries.

After the operation, I actually walked out of the hospital.

So yes, I do not regret the operation. And if one gets to the point of being so disabled, than what else really matters? If someone told me that eating rat faeces would have cured me I would have gladly done it.

But go into this with your eyes open, and understand that this may not be a permanent cure. If you have young children it is unrealistic for anyone to say you can't move or run anymore.

One thing that also works for herniated discs that few people can do, is to just saty in bed for 2 weeks, no work, no meal prepartaion, no nothing. Take voltaren and paracetomal. This is what they did for me the last time I had a major re-hernaition. But I was in hospital. The disc settled down on it's own.

10-24-2007, 06:31 PM
I second Mrs D's advice on PT and salt. I have experienced tingling & numbness (at different times) from both a back injury and PN while stretching large nerves. Whatever caused my small fibre sensory PN also caused some of the large nerves in my legs to become very sensitive to stretching. I think it was B12 deficiency but none of the neurologists I have seen agree. I have been taking B12 now for about 20 months and my large nerves have recovered almost 100%

You need to find a good physiotherapist (physical therapist in the USA?)to advise you on exercise & stretching for your back problem. Some stretching & exercises can make your back worse so it is important to find a good PT. I saw two physiotherapists before I found one who I think has the right approach - he advises Pilates-type exercises and very careful stretches which are modified specially for me. I think I now have my back problem under control. I would avoid surgery if at all possible.

I found a difference in the opinions of physiotherapists (even the good one) and the sports medicine doctors who I saw for my back regarding stretching nerves. The PT thinks it is OK to stretch nerves gently until they just tingle but the doctors advise that stretching nerves is not good. I agree with the doctors and I don't stretch nerves that tingle. Every time you feel tingling or numbness from stretching a large nerve you might be damaging that nerve. Large nerves might eventually not recover from repeated injury.

Restricting salt intake is good for lots of reasons. If you eat a 'normal' diet you are probably eating about 5 times more salt than you need and your body carries about 2 litres of extra water to dilute the excess salt. That water has to be stored somewhere. Too much salt increases blood pressure and causes or exacerbates a host of other problems. My simple philosophy is that nerves work by moving sodium and potassium around, so normalizing my sodium intake can only help my PN. I follow the guidelines in http://www.saltmatters.org. There is also good info at http://www.awash.org.au and http://www.worldactiononsalt.com. A simple way to avoid eating too much salt is to avoid processed foods which almost all have about 5 times too much salt.


10-25-2007, 05:02 PM
I think that what MrsD said is right on. Very good explanation about how salt and water retention figures in. When nerves are stretched to the point of causing tingling, numbness or pain, they are BEING DAMAGED. Normal nerves can take some stretching without harm, but with neuropathy, we have to be very careful. Jane Fonda's advice of "no pain, no gain" is soooooo wrong. That tingling, numbness, and pain you feel when you stretch is your body telling you to stop and don't do this again! Exercise is valuable, but we need to listen to our bodies and go slowly. We have been so brainwashed by the "pop" exercise culture to go too far, too fast. While it is true that some PT's are not very good at what they do, this is true of all professions. I would try again and hopefully you will be pleased with how they help you. They are really the best equiped to help people with pathologies find the best way to exercise without causing damage. Be kind to yourself and your nerves, and good luck with exercise!

10-25-2007, 07:48 PM
If nerves are compressed with "restrictions" of connective tissue, and don't have free movement, stretching can cause symptoms such as these. I've had two kinds of bodywork which haave helped a lot. The first was myofascial release therapy (google John Barnes, Therapy on the Rocks, Myofascial release to find out more or find PTs who do this). It totally cured thoracic outlet syndrome and released nerves which were lightly scarred down all over my body. That increased the abilty of these nerves to get blood and energy, and made stretching possible without further compromise.

The second is Feldenkrais. Rather than strething in the direction of muscle fibers, Feldenkrais emphasizes making very small movements perpendicular to the muscle, very very small, just to the point where you feel a restriction in your movement, and repeating this over and over. It accomplishes what stretching does, by signalling muscles to let-go, that there contraction is not needed. There are CDs on the feldenkrais.com website which is use. I like the series "moving out of pain". These are very very gentle movements.

What I've learned most is that there is no inherent value in stretching. There's value in being loose enough to make movements used in everyday living easy to perform, and nothing to be gained from yogic like flexibiltiy. I've also learned that our connective tissue, over the years, develops all sorts of little catches and snags, which end up compressing and limiting bloodo supply to nerves.

All my doctors now find my right ankle reflex without difficulty. This is pretty amazing, as in 1999 I had zero reflexes on both sides, and now I have a definite reflex on the right, and a sometimes-present reflex on the left. I credit the bodywork and supplements.

Keep moving, but doing it with the newer state-of-the-art understanding of how the musculo-skeletal system works and what its needs are.

Good on you!

10-29-2007, 06:34 PM
So I've decided to pick my lazy butt off the couch and start making some lifestyle changes, starting with a healthy diet and exercise. As you guys probably know, I have 2 herniations in my lower back, but the doctors have mixed opinions on whether or not it could be causing pain in my feet, so I have decided to hold off on surgery.... anyways, when I stretch, especially during the touching toes or the straight leg raise stretch, my feet start to tingle and eventually go a little numb. My legs are fine, just my feet tingle/go slightly numb. It gets better when I release the stretch. Any ideas on what this could mean? Thanks.

I get something like what you're talking about. It happens when I stretch my feet. Like pointing my toes straight out. I get this tingling/burning/stretching feeling on the tops and insteps of my feet. My toes tingle. It hurts a good bit. I have no idea what causes it.

shiney sue
10-29-2007, 08:24 PM
Thanks to my son who is Massage and PT. and got me started on Malf.I
think i would be screaming my head off..When he moved away and got
a pt to take over i'm not sure what i would do..Guess he would have to come
back and i'm no competition to that beautifull dr. wife of his..It's a blessing for some of us...hugs lady, Sue

10-31-2007, 06:42 AM
I have got problems with C5 C6 & C7, the best advise i have ever got before doing any stretching exercises, is to warm the affected/injured area for 10 minutes before hand with a heat bag, this is the only possible way i can do any stretching to that area i mention and i found that it's most important is not to over do the stretching, i have tried doing stretching exercises without the heat before and finished up in real pain.

Brian :)

02-21-2012, 02:49 PM
so I was doing stretches and my knee went completely numb after stretching my adductor. I put ice on it for about 15 minutes and now it is swollen and still has no feeling. It is under the knee cap and above the connection of the calf muscle in the front side. I'm worried about blood clotting or if I pulled a nerve or something.

02-21-2012, 08:50 PM
I just had a blood clot about 3 weeks ago. Spent 6 days in the hospital. The symptoms I had: I woke that morning with a pain behind my knee, like I'd had a charlie horse during the night. Within hours the entire leg swelled up. At that point I knew exactly what it was. Sounds like you may have torn something, disconnected it from its attachment. Only a doctor can tell for sure and an ultrasound and blood work can rule out a clot. Good luck...like we need any other problems.

02-22-2012, 06:47 AM
--that any major swelling in an area through which nerves pass through restricted areas (the pelvis, the knee, the wrist, the ankle . . .) can produce symptoms of compression--most often tingling and parastheses but also numbness if the nerve is being significantly compressed.