What occurs when your foot falls asleep?

That pins-and-needles feeling can come from sitting in the identical place for some time. Westend61 through Getty Photos

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What occurs when your foot falls asleep? – Helen E., age 8, Somerville, Massachusetts

Think about you’ve simply sat down to observe your favourite TV present. You resolve to snuggle in along with your legs crisscrossed since you discover it extra comfy that manner.

When the episode ends, you attempt to arise and all of the sudden your proper foot isn’t working. At first you simply can’t transfer it, then it feels prefer it has pins and needles throughout it. For a minute or two it feels uncomfortable and peculiar, however quickly sufficient you’ll be able to arise and stroll round usually.

What simply occurred?

I’m an train physiologist – a scientist who research what occurs to our our bodies once we transfer and train. The aim of a lot of my analysis has been to know how the mind talks to and controls the completely different elements of our our bodies. When your foot falls asleep, there’s something fallacious with the communication between your mind and the muscular tissues in that space.

Each time you resolve to maneuver your physique, whether or not it’s standing up, strolling round or enjoying sports activities, your mind sends indicators to your muscular tissues to ensure they transfer appropriately. When the mind is unable to speak with a muscle or teams of muscular tissues, some bizarre issues can occur – together with that a part of your physique getting that bizarre falling-asleep sensation.

An animation explains how the nervous system works.

It normally begins with a way of numbness or tingling in that space. This sensation, which individuals typically additionally name “pins and needles,” is technically often known as paresthesia.

Some individuals mistakenly assume a scarcity of blood move causes this sense. They think about the “asleep” feeling occurs when your blood, which carries vitamins throughout your physique, is unable to get to your foot. However that’s not proper.

When your foot falls asleep, it’s often because the nerves that join the mind to the foot are getting squished due to the place you’re sitting in. Bear in mind, it’s these nerves that carry messages backwards and forwards to let your mind and your foot talk with one another. If the nerves have been compressed for a short time, you gained’t have a lot feeling in your foot as a result of it may’t get its regular messages via to your mind about the way it feels or if it’s shifting.

When you begin to transfer round once more, the stress on the nerves is launched. They “get up” and also you’ll begin to discover a “pins and needles” feeling. Don’t fear, that feeling will solely final for a couple of minutes after which the whole lot will really feel regular once more.

Now comes the vital query: Is that this harmful? More often than not, when your foot, or another physique half, falls asleep, it’s momentary and nothing to fret about. In truth, because it lasts for less than a minute or two, chances are you’ll not even bear in mind it occurred by the top of the day.

Regardless that it’s not inflicting any everlasting harm, you would possibly nonetheless wish to keep away from the uncomfortable feeling that comes when your foot falls asleep. Listed here are a few suggestions which will assist:

Change your place typically.
Don’t cross your legs for very lengthy.
If you find yourself sitting for a very long time, strive standing up sometimes.

You most likely can’t 100% forestall your foot from ever falling asleep. So don’t fear when it occurs each now and again. It’ll go away fairly rapidly – and perhaps it may remind you of all of the vital mind messages your nerves are normally transmitting with out your even noticing.

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Zachary Gillen doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.

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