Author Topic: Numb feet  (Read 8970 times)

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Offline lovellp

Numb feet
« on: May 16, 2005, 03:59:30 pm »
I've started cycling and my feet become numb fairly quickly
as I ride. The clip in shoes do not feel uncomfortable, but I
was wondering if anyone else has this problem and what I
can do to stop it. Thank you

Offline damselfli

Numb feet
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2005, 04:17:35 pm »
Hmmm. Do you have a long second metatarsal bone? Look for a long second toe, and where it joins the next bone in your foot...

What is fairly quickly? 20 miles? 10 minutes?

I've had problems with 'hot foot' since I bought biking shoes. I can feel it near the 30 mile mark. A licensed massage therapist noted that my bone structure is probably causing the problem - because the bone coincides with the cleat position in the shoes / pedals. I bought Cannondale mountain bike shoes (which I love) - because they seemed good for some walking while touring.  I have purchased an insert for my shoes (, but they haven't completely solved the problem.

Some people suggest true road biking shoes - since the sole is totally stiff and the cleat might not transfer the load to this bone.

Others suggest sandals - because they have lots of room for your feet to move and breathe.

I am trying a friend's road shoes this week, to see if they induce the same pain. I am also training myself to use a stronger upstroke and to spin more (no mashing the pedals). This has helped some, for sure.

Offline RussellSeaton

Numb feet
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2005, 04:57:04 pm »
As already suggested, stiffer shoes can help some.  I am guessing you are using SPD or similar mountain bike style pedals.  Great for walking around when not riding, great for touring, but with the small cleat, you get "hot foot".  You will never hear of people using road pedals, Look, Time, complaining of hot foot because the pedal/platform you are pressing against is large and disperses the pressure.

My first pair of mountain bike shoes were cheap Specialized shoes for $25.  SPD pedals.  At 50 miles I had hot foot.  Nothing terrible but it was there.  Then I bought some much nicer Carnac mountain bike shoes and do not get hot foot until about 100 miles.  And its not something that causes problems and goes away once the riding is over.

Consider some very stiff mountain bike shoes as the first cure.  Not as good for walking, but you can still walk better than road shoes.  The ultimate cure is to use road pedals, Look, Time.  I toured Europe in 1992 in Time road pedals.  No hot spots.  But walking was not possible so I had to change into shoes every time I stopped.  Consider road pedals as the very last resort if you want to tour or stop frequently and get off the bike.

Offline OmahaNeb

Numb feet
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2005, 03:32:18 am »
Speedplay frogs have a bigger cleat than an SPD and can fit in a SPD cleat opening on the shoe.  Also try insoles.

Offline lovellp

Numb feet
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2005, 06:31:54 pm »
Thanks for your reply. My feet get numb by about the 5-10th
mile and just continue to get number as I ride. I'm up to 30
miles and it's getting worse.  I'll look into your suggestions
and the others as I don't think I'll be able to go cross country if
I don't get it fixed.

Offline biker_james

Numb feet
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2005, 10:21:05 am »
Cleat placement can have an affect on foot numbness/burning. The general advice is to move the cleat further back to avoid the problem. Another thing to remember is that you may need to loosen your shoes after riding a while as your feet swell.
I can't say that I know anyone who has had to go to a road shoe for touring. MTB shoes do come in a variety of stiffness, and one thats really soft wouldn't be a great plan. I like my SPD sandals for touring and only rarely have a problem with burning or numbness.

Offline Scot_Gore

Numb feet
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2005, 04:34:09 am »
Another thing to try that costs you nothing, so try next ride and see if it makes a difference.  Your foot may be swelling slightly from the workout you're giving it.  Reach down and pull a velcro strap loose, and slap it back in place.  Your larger foot might have been getting squeezed by a setting that felt fine befor you started riding.

Offline stockdoct

Numb feet
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2005, 05:49:04 am »
I also have trouble with numb feet.  I'll tell you what I do, but
I'm sure it'll instill the wrath of speedster others, I'm sure.  
Hey,  I gave up cleated pedals.    I'm a physician, mind you,
and have a decent knowledge of human physiolgy, and I
can't come up with any good medical reason for the oft-
quoted principle of keeping your foot's metatarsal head over
the median of your pedal with toe-clips or clipless pedals.  It's

I ride a recumbant, with sandals, t-shirt and running shorts.  
No Lycra, no pads in my shorts, no gloves, no funny bike-
shoes.     And I ride with the same pedals I started with when I
was 9 years old.  No clips, no cleats.    I ride for a while with
my metatarsals over the pedal, then for a while with my heels
on the pedals.   "The Heels??"  you ask......yes, I vary my foot
on the pedal, with the toe sometimes, the meta-head
sometimes, often the mid foot and sometimes even the heel
other times.  And I take my foot off the pedal for 30 seconds
every chance I get on  long descents to minimize the
continuous presssure on the nerves that causes "hot foot".    
Yes, I still get uncomfortable every 30-40 miles and have to
stop for a half hour, but not every 8 miles as I used to.

Riding is supposed to be comfortable.

Offline jlsccjan

Numb feet
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2005, 11:33:05 pm »
I have this trouble too. I first noticed it when I was doing physical therapy at the gym on a stationary recumbant bike as well as other machines. I was concerned at first that something else was wrong with me but my therapist told me I was probably putting too much pressure on that part of my foot.

When I ride my upright comfort bike,I can move my foot around anywhere I want, I don't notice the problem. I recently upgraded to a road bike with spd pedals and mountain bike shoes. My feet start going numb with in about 10-15 minutes. I moved the cleats back slightly and now I can go 20-30 minutes before I start having a problem.

I believe that if I move them back as far back as they can go, I will solve the problem all together but I haven't tried it yet. In the mean time, before they get seriously numb, I usually unclip one foot at a time and  flex it for a few seconds when I am rolling a long at a good pace. I clip back in, get back up to speed and then do the other one. I also take advantage of rest stops to get of and move around a bit.