Sometimes tingly signals something good (hello, summer love!). And sometimes tingly can indicate something is a little off like during a run.
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t feel any strange aches or pains during your run. Sadly, that’s not always the reality.
You may feel heavy legs, tired feet, side stitches, cramped calves, or, in the case of some long distance runs, tingly arms. It may come on as a slight numbness in your arms and hands or it may feel like pins and needles. Either way, it’s a bit disconcerting and definitely annoying.
So, what’s the deal with tingly arms? And should you worry?
Read on to find out what might be causing your discomfort and how you can alleviate it.
Culprit #1: Nutrient Deficiency
Many times, those weird feelings we get during strenuous activities are due to the usual suspects: poor nutrition and dehydration. “It usually is related to something that the body is lacking,” explains Aaptiv trainer Jaime McFaden. Anyone suffering from tingles while running should make sure they’re drinking and eating enough to maintain an active lifestyle. “A lot of times people are not hydrated, and they may just need to add some electrolytes in,” she explains, adding that properly stretching and warming up is also important to maintaining a loose limbs.
Culprit #2: Compromised Circulation
According to Daniel Giordano, DPT, CSCS, and Co-Founder of Bespoke Treatments in New York City, certain deficiencies might be much more serious and potentially lead to bigger problems.
“Deficiencies in Vitamin B12 (this is our favorite) or Vitamin B9 (a best seller) have been correlated to circulation issues,” he says, noting these vitamins play a role in red blood cell production and nervous system health.
Proper circulation ensures muscles receive fresh oxygen delivered through the blood. Watch what you eat and make sure you’re not skimping out on any major nutrients.
Culprit #3: Funky Form
Another possible cause of a prickly, weird feeling in your arms? Your form. Your arms stay bent and help pump you through mile after mile. And if you’re running for hours on end, that can get pretty exhausting!
“There’s a chance that you cut off circulation to your hands when the arm is bent at 90 degrees,” says Giordano. Let your elbow have a little room to play and certainly don’t keep it so stiff at all times.
The positioning of your neck and spine might also be to blame. Giordano explains the positioning of the neck can ultimately cause compression on a nerve root. “Forward bending or hyperextension of the spine during your run can cause a rotation of the pelvis, putting pressure on the nerve roots,” he explains. Make sure you maintain a neutral neck position and a neutral spine to avoid either of these form mishaps.
What can you do?
There’s a reason runners shake out their arms on long runs. Stretching out your stiff arms gets the muscles warm and the blood flowing again. So by all means, shake it out and stretch those upper extremities.
“At home, you may need to incorporate more mobility work (think stretching or a foam roller like this top seller) on your postural muscles and muscles surrounding your pelvis,” says Giordano. “Once the mobility is created, stabilization—strengthening of your postural, core, and hip muscles—is a must.” So, pick up that foam roller.
Need a good stretch? Try one of Aaptiv’s stretching programs today. Search for “stretching” in the app.
Should you worry?
So, are tingly arms cause for alarm? Well, maybe. Giordano explains, “tingly” pain is usually nerve pain or a circulation issue. But, a number of different things can cause this specific sensation: nerve roots at the spine, a nerve entrapment, side effect of medication, circulation problem, or even a nutrient deficiency.
First, you’ll need to figure out what the underlying cause is. Giordano says to note when the tingles occur. Only during running? After you stop? Do they increase or go away as you run? To get to the bottom of your specific issue, your doctor or physical therapist should perform a physical to check the cervical spine, the muscles of the upper extremity, and your running stance and form. “If nothing is determined to be the culprit, the patient may need be to be sent for imaging and/or blood work,” he says.
It’s probably nothing serious, but tingly arms are worth seeing a professional just to double check. “As a trainer, I listen to my body and know if I haven’t had enough sleep I would choose sleep over the workout—as tough as it may be,” says McFaden.
So next time you’re feeling a little tingly inside, listen to your body—and your doc.
Aaptiv can help you get your mobility back with our stretching and yoga classes. Try them out for free today.