Recumbent - Foot Numbness Riding a Recumbent
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08-05-00, 07:13 AM
I started riding a recumbent last August and absolutely love it (my wife and I ride a Vision tandem (VR85)). This year after 900 miles I started experiencing a numbness in my left foot after pedaling 4 - 6 miles. My doctor believes I have a nerve pinch in my left buttocks, Has anyone experienced this and what measures have you taken? It is aggravating to have to get off the bike and walk for a few minutes every 5 miles or so. My typical rides are 40 - 60 miles and prior to these numbness episodes i would ride for 15 - 20 miles before taking a break. I would appreciate any advice that might help me. Thanks.
09-11-00, 08:07 PM
If you have spd clipless pedals, try moving the clip so that it hits your foot differently, or try bullfrog pedals, they are pricey but in your case... also I've heard recommended a change of seats, both type of material and angle.
02-10-01, 09:02 PM
You might check out the RECUMBENT CYCLIST NEWS (RCN).
The July/August 2000 issue had an article titled "Numb Feet, Recumbents & **** Erectus" by Patrick Quillin PHD, RD, CNS (whatever all those initials mean). He basically said that some recumbent riders get numb feet from a lack of circulation caused by elevating the feet above the hips. Bob Bryant, editor of the RCN has written that he has the same problem on some recumbents which have a bottom bracket higher than the seat.
02-20-01, 11:38 AM
Hey, I ride my Rans Rocket 40 to 45 miles a day and centuries on the weekends always. I get the same problem. I have had the same problem in a wedgie so I would really rule out too high a bottom bracket.
The real problem is the pressure excerted on the nerves in the balls of your feet. You have then two options spin in an easier gear for a while or get off and walk around either way allows you to take the pressure off the nerves in the balls of your feet.
I don't like stopping so I try spinning a little and doing the push-pull peddling, besides you will find with practice you will actually have more power to your stroke.
The real pressure and numbness comes from riding up hill or while peddling for speed. So on the down hills let your feet dangle from the spd's and let your cleats hold you in.
Do each side for a small period and this will help too.
Other than what I have typed, you can't get away from the pressure just be smart and keep the pressure off.
P.S. blood flow is another factor. In the foot there is a muscle that when walking helps pump the blood. Riding without actually using the same muscles of the foot doesn't allow full pumping capability.
Well enough said ......Ride on dude....\
Your friend froggie
03-08-01, 11:16 AM
I only ride an upright at present, but I have had problems with foot numbness in the past. Froggie might be right about the nerve pinch on the bottom of the foot. If the nerve pinch was in the buttocks, wouldn't that affect more than just your foot? Hey, I'm not a doctor, so don't disregard your doctor's advice. But experimenting with different ways of alleviating the numbness, including trying different pedals, footwear (stiff soles) or pedaling technique can't hurt. And if it's not a life-threatening problem, it might be good to start with the simplest and least expensive solutions.
03-09-01, 05:42 AM
On foot numbness I too have had that problem but in my case it does not seem to bother me until say about 70km. If I don't want to actually come to a stop and walk around a bit I just unclip my foot from the pedal and flex the foot a bit to increase blood flow. I had the same problem while riding uprights and now I only use recumbents, at least now i don't have the back and arm problems I had before.
The suggestion from Markenwell on bullfrog pedals is also a good one.
08-08-03, 03:08 PM
Where can I find information on bullfrog pedals? This thread is fairly old, does anyone know of other methods for dealing with numbness besides the ones mentioned here?
Thanks in advance.
08-08-03, 08:01 PM
Two things which may help:
(1) If your instep is bent significantly while pedalling, try moving your seat a little bit closer to your pedals. Many people end up with a position that puts more stress on their feet than necessary.
(2) A cycling shoe that minimizes the amount of bend that your feet can do will also help.
08-09-03, 12:58 PM
Thank you, I will try both.
www.speedplay.com for Frog pedals. This has been an ongoing topic on all recumbent forums and the "concensus" has been that bikes with BB above the seat level are more prone to this. Reasons for this are obscure but previous posters have hit the high spots. Frogs are nice pedals but probably would not solve the problem. I use them and like them though FWIW. Nerve compression in the hip would be improved by a change in the seat angle also if that is feasible, to shift the point of pressure elsewhere. Steve
08-09-03, 03:04 PM
Thanks again, you people are great!
I'm not sure if my bike has BB above the seat level. This is the bike I have:
I tried moving the seat closer but I still have the problem, maybe a little less severe though. It seems like my right foot gets it worse than the left. I'm going to try changing the seat angle for my next ride. My bicycle shoes don't seem to make a difference versus my regular cross trainer type shoes. I suppose everybody is different.
Right now I'm using regular pedals (no clips or clipless). Power grips have been recommended to me. I have never tried them before though. I will check out the Frogs, thanks for the link.
08-10-03, 07:23 PM
Have you had an accident which may have caused a compression in your spine? If you have a bulging or herniated disc, it may be pinching the sciatic nerve which can cause numbness or pain anywhere from the lower back down to your toes. I have two bulging discs and two herniated discs with a disc fragment pushing against the sciatic nerve. I get a steroid shot about once a year which allows me to keep going. Both my feet are partially numb on the bottoms, and I have constant pain down my butt, hip, and leg to my foot, but if I ride everyday it keeps it tolerable. If I miss a day riding, I have more pain. Of course trying a different seat or shoes may help too. Another possibility is a blockage in an artery, but usually you will have some pain with that. I think if it were me, I would try the shoe and seat thing first, and if the condition continues, see a sports medicine Dr. Good luck.
08-11-03, 09:47 AM
No I have not had an accident. The numbness only happens when riding. The first time I noticed it is when I got my new 'bent.
I'm sorry to hear about your condition. It's nice that you keep riding, you should be proud of yourself.
Thanks for responding.
08-13-03, 04:45 PM
I ordered some Power Grips:
From the Hostel Shoppe:
Using regular shoes today for my first ride, they definitely seemed to greatly reduce my numbness problems. I still need to adjust them a bit more and I will try my cycling shoes also. I have a feeling these will solve my problem.
With the frog pedals and other clipless pedals, how do you know what kind of shoe to get that will fit the pedal? I didn't see that information on the website for the frogs.
John C. Ratliff
08-17-03, 02:25 PM
While I don't yet have a recumbant, I have been test-riding them for quite some time. I have not had really long rides, and have never experienced foot numbness. I am a bit wary of high foot positions, but only from the practical viewpoint that if I get the gearing wrong, it's extremely hard to get going again. I am probably going to get a Rans Stratus, but I've got to get over my wife having fits about me getting a recumbant.
Concerning foot numbness, if the above posts are true about a nerve situation, then what I have to say may be pertinent. I have noticed in my hiking boots that I got a "stone bruise" on my left foot, and was looking at changing boots when it occurred to me that the problem may be with the insole. I tried a better insole from my running shoes, and they were much better, to the point that I'm not ready yet for new boots. Today, I looked at my cycling shoes, and they have very poor insoles.
I'm going to put my running insole into my bicycling shoes, and hopefully that will distribute the pressure better from the pedal. Cycling shoes need to be hard-soles to distribute that weight. But I'm using mountain shoes on my bicycle with clipless pedals. That puts a lot of pressure on a small area of my foot. With the insoles, maybe that will be better now. I may also go to a better cycling shoe, but that limits getting off the bicycle to shop, look at the books in Barnes & Nobel (which I did this morning), and wear them it church (again, what I did this morning).
'Hope this helps.
Since I've had my Vision R40 I've had to deal with numb feet. With me it is only part of my feet and after about 10 to 15 miles it starts. Once I take my feet off the pedals the numbness instantly goes away.
This never happened when I had my wedgie road bike.
When it first started I tried differant shoes, pedals and changed the angle my seat was reclined at, nothing worked. And my LBs could not figure out why it was happening.
So I asked a LBS in Des Moines and explained everything I tried to correct it. That is when I was informed that about 5% out of the 100% of people who own recumbents deal/suffer with this "problem". I've since exp,ained this to my LBS sop they can pass that info. on to other customers.
As far as anyone knows there is no known reports on whether or not permanent damaged and/or problems can occur with the feet of recumbent rides who deal with this issue.
Bottom line: You could very well be one of the 5% who has to deal with this. Eventually you will get used to it.
08-18-03, 04:54 PM
Thanks for your input. Seat angle and position doesn't seem to effect mine either. My numbness is better with regular shoes vs. cycling shoes. It is also better with PowerGrips vs. standard pedals. I have not tried clipless though. With your input maybe I won't since I like my current setup.
I have gotten used to it. It was much worse at first. Now it's just the toes which go numb and I think a little more adjusting of the PowerGrips may solve that too. We'll see. Even if I can't completely fix the problem, it's still worth having the 'bent. I love riding it.
08-19-03, 03:46 AM
Hot spots can be caused by many different reasons. Moving the cleats more to the rear helped me but only slightly as it just added or delay the hot spots 10 to 15 minutes. From what you are describing, these hot spots don't sound like heat or temperature related as much as pressure related hot spots, because temp related usually affect the entire foot. Where pressure related only affect a localized area of the foot. ( usually the ball) Pressure hot spots are caused by improper pedaling or the shoes being to tight. Too loose and you get blisters.
Try this: On the up stroke (or in the cast of a bent the back stroke) remember to pull up or (back) with that foot, as your foot starts to come around the top or (side), move your foot as if it were sitting on top on a ball and you want to roll the ball forward, when your foot gets to the down or (forward) stroke naturally push down or forward then as it comes around the bottom or (down) stroke, swipe your foot like you are try to scrape mud off of it.
(wow that was long winded) By pedaling in this way, you are only applying pressure to the ball of your foot part of the time. Another advantage to this is you will increase your speed and use more muscles in your legs.
If your already pedaling in this manner then more experiments are in order.
Hope this helps. Let us know if you find something different. A lot of people suffer from this.
John C. Ratliff
08-19-03, 09:43 PM
I now have two day's worth of cycling with the newer insoles in my cycling shoes. It did make an improvement in my case. I don't have numbness, but did have some soreness on my left foot. Today, it's barely noticable. It's worth a try in your case if there are "hot spots."
08-20-03, 05:31 AM
Clipless sandals without socks (above 50 degrees for me) has worked well for me. It may take a while to get used to them, and you sometimes will get a small stone under your foot (which can be removed while riding, with caution). I adjust the velcro straps very loose and still get all the lift I need. They feel great in the hot weather. Just another option.
08-28-03, 09:23 PM
We have had similar "sleepy feet" problems. We found info on the Hostel Shoppe website under Help Guides. .... I would post it here, but apparently that web page is unavailable at this exact moment!!! grrrr
:crash: (I really like this smile)
08-28-03, 10:01 PM
GOT IT !!! :thumbup:
Found this info on the Hostel Shoppe web site under 'Help Guides", Click on Recumbent FAQ there is a lot of great info.... Here is what it says about "SLEEPY FEET"
How can I relieve the "sleeping feet syndrome" I sometimes get when riding my recumbent?
1. Make sure your shoe soles are as stiff as possible.
2. Make sure your shoes are not too tight in the ball of the foot. Try lacing them a little looser.
3. Shift down to a lower gear and work on spinning more. During the spinning stroke you should actually be pulling down and backwards for a short time. This helps me when my right foot occasionlly starts to burn and fall asleep.
Wear cycling shoes, and use clipless pedals.
If it gets bad enough, all you need to do is take a break and it goes away within 1 or 2 minutes off of the bike.
08-29-03, 05:41 AM
The original cycling shows I wore were too tight along the ball of my foot, plus the sole was not stiff enough. I purchased a different shoe - Shimano M30 - with a stiffer sole and a size larger than my normal street shoe.
This gave penty of room in the ball/tow area. I make the laces fairly loose in the ball/tow area and tighten the shoe down toward the ankle with the laces and the velcro strap.
I no longer have problem with soreness in my feet.
John C. Ratliff
08-29-03, 09:52 PM
And don't forget the insoles--they do make a difference. The change of insoles for my cycling shoes helped a lot.
Also, I just got off a 9 hour hike up to the top of the South Sister in Oregon. I used the insoles from my running shoes in my hiking boots, and experienced no foot problems at all (thigh problems from the climbing--big time stiffness, etc. but no foot problems). A month ago I suffered a "stone bruise" in these hiking boots with different insoles.
It's the same type of problem in bicycling as in hiking. In addition to the posts above, also check the insoles is my advise.
In my opinion, foot-numbness goes hand in hand with SWB recumbents or any other bike configuration were the pedals are higher than the hips. It's just harder for the body to pump blood up-hill. You might try to play with your clip-less cleats and move them forward or back. A fraction of an inch either way may make the difference if your problem is due to pressure on a nerve in the foot itself. Good luck Ron and welcome to the recumbent lifestyle ...Rick
09-06-03, 07:30 PM
I've suffered from sleepy feet too. I've got an EZ Sport and my feet are below my hips. I just tried Nicky_Baker's choice number 3. Spinning more and in a lower gear while pulling down and back seemed to have helped me.
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