Numbness

Why do we feel numbness in our legs when we sit down for a long time?

N.J. SHIRAPATHI KAUSHIK

Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Numbness is an abnormal sensation that can occur anywhere in the body, but is most commonly felt in the hands, feet, arms, or legs. We may experience this as slight pricking (tingling) sensation in the limbs, if we leave our hand or feet in a single position for a long time.

This supine or recumbent numbness is also referred to as the “limb falling asleep”. Sometime some minor objects like the wallet in our back pocket pressing against the nerves in our leg can cause our leg to fall asleep because there is direct pressure placed on the leg nerves and blood supply may be cut off because of squashed arteries. This is called positional leg pain.

Numbness in legs is often associated with pricking or burning sensations. Clinically it is called as paresthesias. Temporary numbness or tingling that disappears quickly can occur when we sit with our legs crossed for a long time or sleeping on our arm in a bent position.

Most people have felt this type of sensation. This sensation occurs due to no obvious stimulus. This type of very common numbness while recumbent or supine, poses no danger.

It is caused by temporarily reduced supply of blood to the limbs. When we return to normal position by changing our posture and when the blood supply gets normal we feel free from this numbness.

Specific foot and ankle stretching exercises may help to increase circulation and alleviate numb feet. Plantar fasciitis stretch is one such exercise.

In this exercise the plantar fascia (a thick tissue that supports the arches of our feet) is allowed to stretch. It is a seated exercise. For this we have to sit on a chair and plant our feet firmly on the ground.

Then we have to curl our toes while raising the arches of our feet, keeping our heels on the ground. This will help to warm up our feet and increase circulation after times of inactivity, such as when we first get out of bed or if we sit at our desk for a long period of time. There are certain yoga practices also to get rid of this numbness.

S. PALANIAPPAN

Editor, Research Journal of Biological Sciences

J.J. College of Arts and Science

Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu