Leg/foot goes numb while riding--

Not sure how to even describe this. It only happens when I’m trotting, it starts off feeling like my muscles are seizing in my left lower leg/ankle area, and then my entire lower leg/foot goes numb. I broke that foot in 2010 but that’s the only injury to that leg. Does anyone else ever experience this? If I take my foot out of the stirrup and rotate my foot around, feeling comes back and I’m fine for a little while. So frustrating! Any ideas?

It sounds like maybe you’re standing in the stirrups, instead of posting off your thigh.

Do you position your pinky toe to the outside stirrup branch, or your big toe to the inside?

Is your foot totally perpendicular to the stirrup bed, or at an angle?

Did you do any PT for that broken foot? It’s very easy for that injury to have created a whole ankle mobility issue and even normal “weight in the heels” is causing too much stretch on your calf muscle which is causing it to cramp up

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Great questions. Hmm, I have to think about this. I’d say I attempt to position my pinky toe to the outside stirrup branch and end up (when I look down) with my foot facing more towards the horse. Foot appears to be at more of a angle to the stirrup bed. I did not do any PT for the foot…sadly it was an injury at a rough time in my life when I didn’t have health insurance and I just moon booted it for a few weeks and went right back to riding. Perhaps you’re correct and it has caused this issue!

Thank you for your post!

I would start by standing at the edge of a raises surface - a stair step with a handrail for example - heels having off, and see which heel has an easier/hard time lowering. I’m going to guess your left.

My guess is that the compensations you made, likely without even realizing it, left your ankle less stable, less mobile and your calf muscles tighter. and I’m betting this has translated to other parts of your body you’re not aware of yet. We can’t have a stiffer less mobile leg, and not have it impact the other side, and things above it.


This has just started after being healed 12 years? Have you done anything to aggravate the original injury?

I agree that there must be a certain way you are positioning your leg/ foot that all of a sudden is causing this. Has anything about your saddle or stirrups changed that could be contributing to a new way of positioning your foot?

Right, exactly. I haven’t done anything that I know of, so you’re probably right, I may have changed the way my foot is positioned. I’m catch riding a lot right now so using a different saddle routinely. I don’t recall this happening in my old saddle but I have since sold it. I’m wondering if maybe my stirrups are too short or something? I don’t know. I’m very confused, lol.

Good thoughts. I will try the heel lowering experiment and report back!

Are you at risk for deep vein thrombosis?

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I honestly have no idea? No doctor has ever mentioned that to me before.

The calf cramping followed by numbness could be a symptom.

Not to be scary, but if it gets worse or persists and is not resolved by stirrup position, check for other dvt symptoms: affected calf is larger and warmer than the other, prominent veins, others i forget, and if you have risk factors (family history, ten+ years on oral bc, recent long flight, others i forget now), could be worth a dr. Visit.

Regular limb numbness w/o an explanation is one of those things docs like people to come in for, for sure. Otherwise i am just a civilian and don’t give med advice on the internet.

However I had a dvt 2 years ago and have had weird cramping under various conditions ever since then, some like what you describe, but without numbness. So that is where the bias in my advice is coming from! The actual dvt that was diagnosed was very painful, but not as painful as i had assumed they would be.


Thank you! I will look into this more. If things don’t resolve I may make an appointment just to be sure to rule that out. I don’t have any of the symptoms or risk factors you listed but that doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility. Thanks again!

Any fall, any injury, even just life will make us unlevel and crooked through our bodies without even being aware of it - until it becomes A Big Issue. It would be worth getting treatment by e.g. a Chiro, PT, body worker. I now have a self-imposed rule that I see my McTimony chiro after any fall, slip or even a long car journey.

If it is a recent thing, consider your position in the saddle. If you are riding off you leg and standing in the stirrup, or putting to much weight into the stirrup, then feet will start to go numb or hurt. Try riding without stirrups for a bit, consider what you are doing with seat, thigh, leg, knee. Are you hips still tight after compensating for the foot injury?


Ive broken a leg, and sometimes that foot goes numb when i ride. For the lomgest time i would curl my toes over the stirrup amd not realize it.
I think sitting trot helps…it still goes numb sometimes for no reason.

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