Help for Numb Arms

John asks: When I’m running, my arms start going numb from my elbows down to my hands. I usually do some shadow boxing to help get the blood flowing again. Is that okay?

It’s fine to do some shadow boxing to relieve your symptoms. But I think it would be good for you to find out why you are getting numb arms.

The usual causes are either vascular (blood flow) or nerve conduction issues. It would be odd for blood flow to be disrupted or slowed in both arms. It seems more likely to me that the nerves feeding the forearms and hands would be responsible.

Patients with carpal-tunnel syndrome often complain of numbness in the first three to four fingers. (The symptoms usually spare the pinky finger.) Occasionally, the pain and numbness occurs upstream from a nerve obstruction in the carpal tunnel going up to the elbow or shoulder. One of the maneuvers that helps relieve the symptoms is to shake the hands. Your shadow boxing is a similar reliever.

The ulnar nerve runs through the medial elbow and can be squeezed in its canal, causing numbness. You may also have an impingement in the neck or shoulder region that is causing downstream numbness in the forearm.

It would be good for you to meet with your personal physician to see if you can find a cause and make the changes necessary to correct the problem. While you are waiting to be evaluated, it should not cause you any harm to shadow box your way along the running path.

Subscribe to Runner's World

Related Articles