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Old 04-09-08, 06:28 PM   #1
Bob Pringle
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New Rider, Foot Numbness, Solution?

My BW (She Who Must Be Obeyed) has become enthused with road riding and joined me on a 20-mile excursion over the weekend. She's pretty happy with the accomodations, an elderly but quite serviceable Schwinn Traveller, but she has one problem. Her left foot goes numb after a few miles. She's using platform pedals and New Balance running shoes so there shouldn't be any pressure points, and her upper-leg / lower-leg angle is about 30 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke, so I believe the saddle height is about right. She reports no discomfort with the saddle itself, a split-top Schwinn product.

As I'm really pleased to have her ride with me, I'd like to solve this problem as soon as possible so that she doesn't become discouraged. Any suggestions?

Regards,
Bob P.
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Old 04-09-08, 07:06 PM   #2
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Sounds like it's time for a brand new road bike. If you were a real man, you'd by her one.
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Old 04-09-08, 07:15 PM   #3
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This is going to sound really dumb, but don't tie the laces too tight. I had the same foot numbness in one foot. I found by loosening the laces a bit, the numbness went away.

Another question to ask is if her knee tingles as well. If so, it's seat position moreso than lace tightness.
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Old 04-09-08, 07:30 PM   #4
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I hate riding in sneakers or tennis shoes. My feet always go numb. I got some firm sole mountain bike shoes and the problems went away.

I added cleats and platform/spd pedals 2 years later.
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Old 04-09-08, 08:28 PM   #5
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I've had foot pain from too tight laces. I used my old fashioned riding shoes (rather soft like Tennis shoes) on my Parmamounts steel trap pedals. After 15 miles my feet were numb and painful. Try harder soled shoes or MTB shoes.
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Old 04-09-08, 08:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Pringle View Post
Her left foot goes numb after a few miles. She's using platform pedals and New Balance running shoes so there shouldn't be any pressure points, and her upper-leg / lower-leg angle is about 30 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke, so I believe the saddle height is about right. She reports no discomfort with the saddle itself, a split-top Schwinn product.
running shooes are designed to absorb shock at the heel, and properly applying downward pressure by the ball of your foot is likely the issue. Firmer sole shoe should solve the problem if foot related.

If you can adjust the seat forward or back, it way also assist if she may be extended downward with leg position forward, a neighbor had trouble with both feet on a Electra type bike because the pedals were forward of his seat.

The Schwinn Traveler has conventional handle bars, so her position is more upright? If so lowering seat may provide relief if other suggestions do not, as she may actually be shifting weight to extend fully on down pedal. (another thought)
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Old 04-09-08, 10:14 PM   #7
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Stiff-soled bicycle touring shoes instead of running shoes. Looser laces/velcro strap. Use toeclips (full or half-clips) or PowerGrips on the pedals.
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Old 04-09-08, 10:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doghouse View Post
I hate riding in sneakers or tennis shoes. My feet always go numb. I got some firm sole mountain bike shoes and the problems went away.

I added cleats and platform/spd pedals 2 years later.
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Old 04-10-08, 07:07 AM   #9
Bob Pringle
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Thanks for the responses, guys! I'll try to get her to replace her beloved running shoes ASAP.

Regards,
Bob P.
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Old 04-10-08, 10:03 AM   #10
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OK, as mentioned above, never ever ride in sneakers.

Get your wife a pair of cycling shoes. The pedals can cut through the sole and cause pain and foot numbness. It is very similar to the hand pain and numbness you get and it has a similar cause: pressure on the nerves.

Also putting orthotics into the shoes will give the foot some more cushioning.

Another thing that will help would be either clipless pedals or toe clips. Yes they are daunting. But you foot will have a more stable connection to the pedal. That improves the pedal stroke. One cause of foot numbness is the tendency to push up the one foot with the power stroke on the other side. That way your foot has a constant pressure on it that over time produces numbness and pain.

But right now, I would bet that cycling shoes would make a world of difference.
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Old 04-11-08, 07:50 AM   #11
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I don't know, but if it's just one foot, it kind of suggests that it's not foot pressure on the pedal. Could be the saddle is just a touch too high for her on one side and it's cutting off some circulation. I would try a bit lower and a bit further back. These kinds of bikes we never intended to be setup like road bikes, where measuring leg angles might be of some value.
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Old 04-11-08, 09:28 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by doghouse View Post
I hate riding in sneakers or tennis shoes. My feet always go numb. I got some firm sole mountain bike shoes and the problems went away.

I added cleats and platform/spd pedals 2 years later.
Agree on the Mt. bike shoes even with platform pedals. The real key is to have the riding position set up correctly. The correct position makes even the crappyist bike comfortable. Saddle to pedal height and saddle to bar length must be correct to get the proper weight distribution on the bike.
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Old 04-11-08, 01:16 PM   #13
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I would point to the shoes- like most- but no need to get cycling shoes yet. Just get her to find the stiffest soled shoe she possess's and get her to ride in those.

Pics of her riding in high heels would be appreciated- but Flip flops showing the bunions and corns would not.
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Old 04-11-08, 01:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commutr View Post
This is going to sound really dumb, but don't tie the laces too tight. I had the same foot numbness in one foot. I found by loosening the laces a bit, the numbness went away.

Another question to ask is if her knee tingles as well. If so, it's seat position moreso than lace tightness.
+1 - Shoelaces must not be tight.
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Old 04-11-08, 05:17 PM   #15
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Loud socks. Every third grader knows that answer.
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Old 04-11-08, 05:21 PM   #16
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Saddle height could be the issue. We're not all made symmetrical. Try lowering a tad. If she doesn't want to go clipless, skater shoes are pretty good.
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Old 04-13-08, 06:05 AM   #17
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"OK, as mentioned above, never ever ride in sneakers. "
Sneakers, with large platforms, can be fine- I rode three years with sneakers and powergrips, thousands of miles, numerous 60+ milers and centuries included.

Wife just went through a similar thing- one foot going numb- in MTB shoes with clipless. Found out one foot is slightly larger than the other (pretty common, they say), and shoes were mariganlly sized to begin with. One size up and all is well now.
Suggest looser laces, as others have said.
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Old 04-13-08, 05:38 PM   #18
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+1 for the suggestion that it's probably shoe tightness rather than anything else. I ride with nylon 'comfort' platform pedals and a pair of sneakers, and don't experience discomfort despite the fact that my feet are no longer in the best shape. Reason for that, I believe, is that the sneakers I use are well worn in to my feet, and are of the elasticised 'slipper' type, fitting firmly but not tightly.

I've tried riding with stiffer-soled shoes and after a while it causes me grief. Lace-up shoes also cause me grief unless I have the laces rather loose. But with the glove-like fit of elasticised sneakers I can ride all day without discomfort.
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Old 04-13-08, 06:02 PM   #19
Bob Pringle
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Again, thanks a bunch, guys!

Regards,
Bob P.

P.S. - BW was game for the photo thing but she doesn't have any high heels!
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Old 04-14-08, 11:37 AM   #20
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I rode for years in athletic shoes. No doubt bike shoes help. One thing I found to look out for is to keep your feet relaxed. When you are pushing hard there is a tendancy to clench your feet like you are trying to get a better grip. Often when my feet would start to hurt or get numb I'd find (and still do) that if I relaxed my foot the numbness eases.
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