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  1. #1
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    Feet falling asleep

    My wife and I both qualify for the Clyde and Athena forum, but we're working on that! She has a problem, though, with her feet going totally numb. Well, actually her toes to the balls of her feet. This happens by the 13 mile point of a ride. We stop, she walks 'em out and she's good to go....for another 13 miles.

    She has had bunion surgery on both feet and probably should do it again, so her naturally wide feet plus bunions make it hard to find comfortable shoes that are wide enough. She found some Northwave's that work pretty well and she's riding SPD pedals.

    Any insights as to how to make the numbness stop. Her longest ride to date is 70 miles, which was tough, but she's looking for more organized metrics to ride. To eliminate the numbness would make them that much more enjoyable/less miserable (depending on how full your glass is! )
    If at first you don't succeed, Skydiving is not the sport for you!

  2. #2
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    You might consider trying a pedal with more float, like the Speedplay Frog or the Crank Brothers Eggbeaters. Both are minimalist mountain bike pedals, but both give excellent float, which means the foot has some room to rotate as needed. I use Eggbeaters, myself, with Specialized Body Geometry shoes because I had a shoe related numbness issue and this pedal/shoe combination cured it.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member igknighted's Avatar
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    Lots of possibilities... I would guess that shoes being too tight (or possibly just tightened too much) would be the most likely. If you are sure that there are no pressure points from the shoes, the next thing to look at is the shoe/pedal interface. Are these road shoes with SPDs installed (mountain pedals need the support that mountain shoes give and road shoes don't)? Are they older or cheaper shoes that have a relatively flexible sole (more flexible = more pressure from the pedal)? Where are the cleats positioned (further back = less pressure from the pedals)? There are other possibilities, but that's where I would start.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by igknighted View Post
    Lots of possibilities... I would guess that shoes being too tight (or possibly just tightened too much) would be the most likely. If you are sure that there are no pressure points from the shoes, the next thing to look at is the shoe/pedal interface. Are these road shoes with SPDs installed (mountain pedals need the support that mountain shoes give and road shoes don't)? Are they older or cheaper shoes that have a relatively flexible sole (more flexible = more pressure from the pedal)? Where are the cleats positioned (further back = less pressure from the pedals)? There are other possibilities, but that's where I would start.
    +1 This was my first thought. Generally the feeling of numbness or "falling asleep" means the blood flow is reduced a fair amount.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
    You might consider trying a pedal with more float, like the Speedplay Frog or the Crank Brothers Eggbeaters. Both are minimalist mountain bike pedals, but both give excellent float, which means the foot has some room to rotate as needed. I use Eggbeaters, myself, with Specialized Body Geometry shoes because I had a shoe related numbness issue and this pedal/shoe combination cured it.
    Interesting. I was actually thinking of suggesting a pedal with a larger platform, which would be going the other direction.

    OP, you didn't mention anything about back trouble or sciatica. So I hope that's not an issue. Foot/toe numbness is one possible symptom but I doubt it would be the first one you'd notice.

  6. #6
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    I'll have her check tightness again. Maybe I'll have her try it REALLY loose for a ride. They do look a little tight where the tongue meets the top of the foot/ankle.

    No back or nerve issues that we're aware of.

    I'll have to look at the shoe box. They're Northwave and I'm guessing they're touring shoes, like this:

    http://www.northwave.com/en/product/_touring

    Not 100% on the model, but I'll try to narrow it down. Shoes are about 6 months old. She didn't want to go back to clips after having not ridden for 15 years or so. She finally decided it would be good, and bought the shoes.

    Cleats are pushed WAY back. That foot may be all the way back. I'll have to look. I don't remember which foot it was, but one she wanted as far back as it would go.

    Pedals are antique Shimano SPD's. I'm guessing from 1992 or so.
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  7. #7
    briankari
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    Falling asleep is most likely due to too much pressure somewhere. It could be the shoes are too tight. But I'm guessing the rider has loosened the shoes as a result. Cleat fore/aft position is a possibility. SPDs don't offer much movement this way. but tilt could also be the issue. try some cleat wedges. They saved me from a lot of numbness and pain...

  8. #8
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    I'm getting foot numbness on my touring bike with the same shoes that work great on my road bike. I took detailed measurements of both bikes to figure out what was going on. I had focused so much on getting the reach perfect on the touring bike I never noticed that the saddle was setback 3cm more relative to the bottom bracket than it is on my road bike. I'm getting that adjusted which means I'll need a longer stem to compensate, which I hope will fix the problem for good.

  9. #9
    Senior Member antimonysarah's Avatar
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    I get this sometimes, used to get it a lot more. Things I was recommended: Specialized insoles with the metatarsal button, which seemed to help a bit, and wider shoes, which helped a LOT. For me, wider shoes was easy because my old shoes were women's, so I just switched to men's (which are wider for the same size), but it looks like your wife is already wearing men's shoes, so she'll need to find men's wide shoes if she wants to try that.

    Once I'd switched to men's, the numbness only ever showed up on my left foot, which is the one I don't unclip at stops, so I started wiggling my toes every time I unclipped, to give both feet some extra blood. If she can't actually wiggle her toes around in her shoes, they're too tight.

    It can go along with/also manifest as hotfoot, so recommendations for that also apply. Sometimes seat height or saddle position can cut off circulation a little bit on the back of the thigh, not enough to notice except in the toes.

  10. #10
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    I checked the shoe box. These are her shoes.

    http://northwave.com/en/product/_elisir_pro

    Both feet go to sleep, however, her right goes to sleep faster. Looking at cleat placement, her right is about 2/3 the way back. The left is all the way. I'm going to try moving the right all the way back and see if that helps.

    Thank you for all the replies and insights so far. I really do appreciate it. If this doesn't get resolved soon, I'm going to pay for a fitting. I want her comfortable.
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  11. #11
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    I used to get hot spots and numbness on both feet during longer rides. I switched from SPDs to Look KEOs with the medium float cleats and that helped a lot.

    If I get numbness now, I stop and loosen the strap on my shoe and that immediately helps. I keep my shoes fairly loose, but pressure must build up somewhere.
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  12. #12
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
    I used to get hot spots and numbness on both feet during longer rides. I switched from SPDs to Look KEOs with the medium float cleats and that helped a lot.

    If I get numbness now, I stop and loosen the strap on my shoe and that immediately helps. I keep my shoes fairly loose, but pressure must build up somewhere.
    SPD's are the only pedal/cleat system I've ever used. So we'd be looking at new pedals and shoes for any of the Look, Speedplay, Cranks, etc. She's getting expensive!
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  13. #13
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    The Speedplay Frogs have a good reputation; the Eggbeater line has had SPOTS of unreliability. (Tom, if they work for you, keep 'em, I'm not trying to slam them; I have a riding bud who's run Candy SL's for years now.) Another alternative, IMO the best from a reliability standpoint, is the Time ATAC line.

    I use the Alium pedals (bottom of the line, but still VERY good pedals. Maybe, though, to spread out the pressure on the feet, you may want to consider the Time ATAC Z -- it's basically a platform pedal with the ATAC clipless loops in the middle. It's a thought.

  14. #14
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    I like to ride with my shoes so lose that when I pull up on the pedal I can feel the sole of my foot lift off the bottom of the shoe. With vented shoes this allows fresh cool air to enter.

  15. #15
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    This may not be of significance but I have had many young patients complain of foot and toe numbness when switching over to and wearing stiff sportive shoes - Young men who wear unlaced sloppy shoes and women who mostly wear flip flops...

    I only have this problem when wearing thin soled shoes cause I use toe clips - For this I have a thick peice of leather that I slide into my shoe just under the balls of my feet...

  16. #16
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    When I have numbness or burning, I loosen my shoes and it helps a lot. Feet swell as you ride (ask a doctor why, I don't know), and to totally prevent foot issues of this sort I start with shoes a bit looser than I like to walk in.

    Could you also have physiological issues? That would be a medical question most of us here should not tackle, but perhaps you should check with your doc. I know the tightness issue is a real one and easily treated. Try the easy stuff first!

    Second step is to make sure the shoes have stiff enough soles so as not to focus pressure too much. I could see width being a problem as well. I ride platforms with Adidas soccer-like sneakers, and they work well with Campy Crecord or or vintage Lyotard touring platform pedals, but not with traditional rat-trap or road racing pedals.
    Last edited by Road Fan; 06-15-13 at 05:08 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoJoe View Post
    Both feet go to sleep, however, her right goes to sleep faster. Looking at cleat placement, her right is about 2/3 the way back. The left is all the way. I'm going to try moving the right all the way back and see if that helps.
    I'd suggest searching the net for help with cleat position or seek a good fitter. Besides forward and back, there's side to side and angles that should be considered to align the cleat and shoe to the person.

    If I had to guess, after 13 miles, the feet are starting to swell, increasing the inside foot pressure. Hopefully the shoes aren't to tight (width and length) to begin with and have long enough straps to ease off the pressure.

  18. #18
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    Here's a simple, inexpensive solution that helped me with the same issue. Take a couple of old expired credit cards or used-up gift cards and tape them under the insole over where the cleat is attached. This helps spread the pressure across the sole of the foot.

    Also, new clip less riders tend to forget to pick up the "back" leg. Even if you don't pull up with the back leg, you can take all the weight off the foot in that part of the stroke, which gives enough time for blood flow.
    Riding in the Central Ohio Tour due Cure, June 7th.

  19. #19
    BikeFitPro
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    5_cleat_changes_more1.jpg5_cleat_changes_more3.jpgThere could be a lot going on here but some common things we find are the cleat needs to be moved back on the shoe. Also the tilt of the foot is OFTEN a major reason for most foot misalignments.
    Obviously if the shoe is too tight loosen it or get a bigger shoe. You did not mention that so I would assume that is not an issue. Don’t forget to remove the insole and check to make sure the screws are sticking through. Hey it is a simple one but sometimes it is the reason.
    Here are a couple illustrations showing the areas that probably need to be checked or reviewed. I am guessing the cleat fore/aft and the tilt are the big ones contributing here.

  20. #20
    Senior Member LuckySailor's Avatar
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    Had the same problem and just dealt with it for years. Decided one day to check out a video on how to properly adjust your seat height because I thought that my legs were not extending far enough. Ended up raising the seat 2 inches. No more knee pain and my right foot doesn't fall asleep anymore. WooHoo!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuckySailor View Post
    Had the same problem and just dealt with it for years. Decided one day to check out a video on how to properly adjust your seat height because I thought that my legs were not extending far enough. Ended up raising the seat 2 inches. No more knee pain and my right foot doesn't fall asleep anymore. WooHoo!
    I've had this experience, too.

  22. #22
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuckySailor View Post
    Had the same problem and just dealt with it for years. Decided one day to check out a video on how to properly adjust your seat height because I thought that my legs were not extending far enough. Ended up raising the seat 2 inches. No more knee pain and my right foot doesn't fall asleep anymore. WooHoo!
    I guess I should really look into fitting my seat better, I have never done it fully before and I get sleepy feet all the time and just thought it was because I was riding a while.

    Very thorough thread and thanks to all have replied so far, great info.
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  23. #23
    BikeFitPro
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    Ho_foot_simple.jpgThought I should add one more bit. When people really think about it often you will find uneven pressure on the bottom of the foot and the numbness can start on the outside and move inward. See if you feel like either of these illustrations.

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    Don't want to scare you, but besides all of the good advice you are getting here and since she is not as skinny as Andy Schleck i would take her to visit a cardiologist to check her legs, some times feet and legs get numb because of blood circulation problems. I understand she has problems with bunions and stuff and some of the problem starts there, big chance her feet are getting swollen and bigger shoes will solve the problem (go 1.5 size larger) but some times the problem comes little bit upper in the legs veins and stuff.

    Check the cardiologist just in case man... you never know, and if you guys have overweight problem you never know...

    Good luck.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Darth Steele's Avatar
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    Hey guys, great information. Keep it coming. This is very frustrating for me. The problem becomes more pronounced when peddling hard or uphill or applying pressure. I usually un-clip my feet and let them dangle until I get feelings back in my toes.

    - I started riding with my shoes loose enough so that on the up-stride I lift my feet off of the sole.
    - I think that I will try to move my cleats back a bit to change the pressure point.

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