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Thread: Numb feet?

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    Cute, fluffy, and illegal gotls1's Avatar
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    Numb feet?

    Not sure where this post really belongs, so I figure I'm safe in General...

    After riding about 10 or so miles I notice that the balls of my feet (both of them) and my toes go a bit numb. After a few more miles sometimes it clears up and sometimes it doesn't. It's not to the point that I feel like I need to stop riding, but it is annoying. Is this a sign of shoe or pedal problems or potentially a saddle issue (god I hope not - my Brooks is the only saddle I've found that doesn't kill my neither regions)? Or perhaps is my body just getting used to putting in some miles on a bike? I'm currently just using standard athletic shoes with pedals that came with toe clips, but I've removed the cages and straps.

    Any insight would be apprecited.

    Thanks,
    M

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    A lot of folks put pressure on the foot that's on the up side of the pedal stroke, in addition to the foot on the down side. Try unweighting the foot that's going up while pushing with the foot that's going down.

    Once you get used to riding like this, the unweighting will take the pressure off that foot just long enough to keep the numb away. In addition, you'll find yourself riding faster with less effort. It's amazing how much pushing that other leg up will impede forward progress.

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    It could be associated with shoes or position of the foot on the pedal, but as JoelS already said, unweighting the foot a bit on the upstroke helps. When we walk, we naturally relieve pressure on the ball of the foot every step we take, but when cycling, there is a tendency to just sit there like a lump and keep pedaling without ever relieving that pressure. No amount of changing shoes or cleat positioning or pedal type is going to help unless we do that. It's the same as with saddle pressure. Much about today's bikes and the self-induced performance pressure due to cyclocomputers and the internet encourages just sitting there and pedaling endlessly. Both crotches and feet need a break once in a while on rides, same as hands.

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    Senior Member Grim's Avatar
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    I was having similar complaints when I started commuting a couple months back. The more frequently I rode the less it happened. I was actually thinking I was pinching nerves in my butt. I started playing with the fit of my bike as well so I am not totally sure what did the trick. It may have been seat height as the more I raised it the better the bike felt and the longer I could go.

    I found some of the info that Sheldon Brown had posted was pretty helpful.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/beginners/index.html

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    Never thougtht about it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. As a fellow numb foot rider I plan to try this on the ride home.

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    Banned. CKey_Cal's Avatar
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    Your shoes are pinching your feet causing the numbness. Try loosening the shoes or getting a thinner insole. Also, you may want to move the cleats back on your shoe a bit.

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    There are a bunch of things that can impact the comfort of your feet:

    - shoes with thick, stiff soles protect better than thin, flexible soles. My favorites are skateboard shoes, thick for protection from pedal fatigue, but easy to walk around in.

    - shoes that are broad and "loose" near the front of the foot are more comfortable than snug shoes

    - pedals with broad support platforms, such as the MKS "Sneaker pedal", or good BMX pedals, provide better support than "old style" road pedals with 1/16th inch wide contact points, or "clipless" pedals with quarter-sized contact points

    - pedal with a fast cadence is very easy gears. Pushing against "hard" gears is tough on your feet and knees and slows you down. Better to pedal fast in a 70 inch gear than to pedal slowly in a 100 inch gear (something many young riders tend to due...great for knee surgeons, but bad for knees).

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    Arch support insoles with a metatarsal pad. bk

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    Senior Member rankin116's Avatar
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    I had this problem for a little while and it was taken care by getting a professional fitting. He changed the cleat position and that pretty much took care of it. Also, don't fasten your shoes too tight before you ride, I've read that your feet will expand a bit when you get moving, and this could cut off circulation. I don't know if that's true, but it's something I've been doing and so far so good.

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    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    As one myself, I have to ask. Is there a possibility that you could be pre/full diabetic? It frequently manifests itself in foot circulation problems. I don't have your issue, mine is the opposite where unless everything is tuned "just so" my feet go hypersensitive rather than numb. But I have a riding partner than has issues with numbness, and he is also Type II

    Just something to ask that the other posters haven't touched on.

    -Roger

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    Cute, fluffy, and illegal gotls1's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll start with the simplest (unweighting the foot on the upstroke) and go from there.

    I certainly hope I don't have diabetes (32, not particularly overweight, no immediate family members with it), but something to keep in mind I suppose.

  12. #12
    Senior Member d2create's Avatar
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    I was also thinking your shoes might be a bit tight?
    Feet swell, some considerably, during a good workout.

    Also try standing on the pedals occasionally, getting your butt off the seat. The brief change in position might help with circulation.
    2008 Rivendell A. Homer Hilsen
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    Senior Member charly17201's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by d2create View Post
    I was also thinking your shoes might be a bit tight?
    Feet swell, some considerably, during a good workout.

    Also try standing on the pedals occasionally, getting your butt off the seat. The brief change in position might help with circulation.
    +10

    This was MY problem. Loosen the shoes and the problem went away.
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  14. #14
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    I had that issue. I changed my foot position on the pedal to put the pedal under the arch of my foot, closer to my heel, instead of under the ball of the foot - the problem went away.
    Current stable: Sun Atlas X-type (mine), Trek Navigator 3 (wife), two Sun Revolution cruisers (wife, daughter)

  15. #15
    Redefining Lazy Slackerprince's Avatar
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    Numb feet=wrong shoes.

    I recommend Lake shoes and Look KEO Sprint pedals.
    Good luck.

    Slackerprince
    Shut up, everything

  16. #16
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    I have a callous on my left foot and when that foot goes down it really hurts my callous root.ouch.

  17. #17
    Senior Member jaxgtr's Avatar
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    I found my Q factor on my road bike was too narrow for me and I had to bring my pedals out using pedal extenders and it helped relieve the foot numbness. Now my feet don't sit on the edge of the pedal like they used to. I like JusticeZero push my cleat further back on my shoe, and good shoes make a serious difference as well.
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  18. #18
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    Numb or "hot foot" is almost always bad fit.

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