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Feet on Fire!

Old 07-24-06, 08:13 PM
  #1  
starship
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Feet on Fire!

Or that's how my wife describes her feet about 8-9 miles into a ride. Primary around the toes and balls of her feet.

Are we looking at a shoe size problem?
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Old 07-24-06, 08:15 PM
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Possibly..... shoes are probably way to tight, what ever the reason. Also constantly mashing down on the pedals (ie: no clips or straps) and not pedaling in circles can cause it.
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Old 07-24-06, 09:03 PM
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Also, it can be caused by positioning your feet so you're pedaling on your toes (wrong) instead of on the balls of your feet (correct). If using cleats make sure they position the feet so the balls of the feet are on the pedal axle. I just recently had the problem myself with my new cleats - adjustment solved it.

"Hotfoot" as it's known is partly the result of circulation in the toes being constricted, and partly (I think) by pressure on nerves or tendons. Sometimes in addition to proper foot position on the pedals, loosening the shoes a bit in the toes can help. I think I read all this on Sheldon Brown's site. And have verified it thru experience.

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Old 07-25-06, 03:39 AM
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do the shoes vent?
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Old 07-25-06, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bcoppola
Also, it can be caused by positioning your feet so you're pedaling on your toes (wrong) instead of on the balls of your feet (correct). If using cleats make sure they position the feet so the balls of the feet are on the pedal axle. I just recently had the problem myself with my new cleats - adjustment solved it.

"Hotfoot" as it's known is partly the result of circulation in the toes being constricted, and partly (I think) by pressure on nerves or tendons. Sometimes in addition to proper foot position on the pedals, loosening the shoes a bit in the toes can help. I think I read all this on Sheldon Brown's site. And have verified it thru experience.
+1...feet tend to swell during the ride, so if the shoes are a bit tight at the start, the pain caused by circulation problems can be excruciating...best not to use insoles, use thinner, cotton socks, and don't lace them up too tight...loosening the shoes once the pain starts is not a good idea as it will cause to foot to swell up more than it would normally, increasing the pain and burn

good luck
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Old 07-25-06, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by jm01
+1...feet tend to swell during the ride, so if the shoes are a bit tight at the start, the pain caused by circulation problems can be excruciating...best not to use insoles, use thinner, cotton socks, and don't lace them up too tight...loosening the shoes once the pain starts is not a good idea as it will cause to foot to swell up more than it would normally, increasing the pain and burn

good luck
Yes, I agree that swelling may be the cause due to the time it takes on the ride. One other
point to check on is "that time of the month" that often causes swelling of female legs/feet.

Both water retention & blood pooling due to poor circulation can cause painful feet/legs below
the knee. You might ask your doctor to prescribe a light support hose to keep swelling down.
They might look dorky but I can tell you if your feet/legs swell they are wonderful relief.

Last edited by Nightshade; 07-25-06 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 07-25-06, 10:35 AM
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What shoe/pedal system does she use?
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Old 07-25-06, 11:33 AM
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I'm very particular about my shoes. Cycling Shoes, are way more comfortable than they were in the days of nail-on and, eventually, screw-on cleats. I remember the bone spurs my wood insole Duegis gave me...

Having 'mtn' shoes that have walkable soles and that almost as light and certainly as stiff as the road equivalent has been a huge step up for my comfort.
But fit is still THE big issue. The fact that many toe boxes are very roomy makes it deceptive as to which size actually fits me best. I've found that because of the 'shape of the stiff sole, if my ball-O-foot doesn't fit into the designed sole cradle I can get a 'hot' foot. Cycling shoes having a very stiff sole, have a 'shape' designed into them, into which the foot needs to sit and properly distribute force. Being out of the cradle (my term) and either too far forward or too far back means all the weight/force/pressure is concentrated across the ball and metatarsils, rather than being more distributed along the whole bottom of the foot. Cleat position is an important thing, but ultimately has more effect on the rest of the leg, especially the knee, than the foot.
When I buy new shoes I pay particular attention to the placement of the ball and make sure it and the rest of the foot is cradled and supported along the whole length - then I worry about toe box room...
If your wife's shoes aren't supporting her entire foot and the ball is even slightly away from optimum placement in any shoe design, she'll surely have hot spots.
To find the 'proper' size shoe in any model/design that I'm trying on I start at least 2 sizes big - which means I start with a 12 or 47ish, if available. I slide my foot fore/aft inside until I find the Ball-O-foot pocket and note the space I have aft to the heel pocket and then fore. Then I work my way down in size until I no longer have space behind my foot heel within the shoe (and the Ball is still in the pocket). Then I keep going down to the next size or 2 to confirm that my Ball is being pushed forward and out of the pocket by the shoeback. If everything else isn't 'right' (toe room/width/instep, etc...) after I've zero'd in on the right size/length, I move on to another model.
I usually end up with a 44 (or somewhere around 10 1/2), but sometimes 45. Interestingly, I bough a pr of Performance brand shoes in the Ventura store earlier this year, and the proper size turned out to be a 43... for me.
Then, I always add an additional foam insole for more comfort and swap that out when it becomes compressed, about every 25 to 30 riding days. Best cycling accessory I spend money on...
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Old 07-25-06, 05:45 PM
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Wow, lots of feedback, thanks guys.

The clip is set so the ball of her foot is over the pedal shaft. The shoes seem a little snug to her, and this may be the problem. Going to order the next size up. (try to find women's shoes in a wide width, ha ha)

Look pedals, and look cleats, time shoes, and not a lot of venting on these shoes.

The shoes we are getting have a lot of mesh for venting, and a size larger.

Thanks
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Old 07-26-06, 08:38 AM
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It may be simple. I sometimes get the "feet on fire" feeling. It always starts on the left foot first. I unclick with the right foot and at lights I prop myself up with the right foot and leave the left foot clicked in. So the left foot never gets to flex and get the juices flowing. I have found just walking around a little makes the feeling go away. I generally comes anywhere from after 30 miles to never.

I have found from experience that when my pedalling is sloppy, it causes the foot pain. If I pedal in "circles", I am usually fine. By that I mean, there are times when I don't really pull up on the up stroke but seem to slightly push the foot up with the power stroke of the other foot. That means the foot always has pressure on it and I think that constant pressure, over time, causes the foot on fire feeling. When I pull up, I unweight the foot and that allows better circulation. Maybe you wife will find that she is having the same problem and maybe not.
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Old 07-26-06, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by starship
Going to order the next size up. (try to find women's shoes in a wide width, ha ha)
I am a woman who also needs a wide width. I've been riding in inexpensive Nike lace-up MTB shoes, and simply ignoring any hot spot or numbness as long as it's not extreme. But when the LBS had a blanket 20% off everything in the shop, I tried a pair of Sidis. What an amazing difference! I still couldn't afford the top of the line, which fit (and felt) like gloves, but I have the next model down on order. (The LBS had the size above what I needed, and the size below, but had to special-order the half-size in between.)

Long story short--your wife might want to try on a pair of Sidis, if she has problems with widths.

I would be interested in hearing what eventually works for her, and I'd be glad to post my experience with the Sidis when they arrive.

Cheers,
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Old 07-26-06, 09:33 AM
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Props to Cyclezen: I'm filing your thoughtful and comprehensive comments away for the next time I go bike shoe shopping. Hope they helped Starship too.
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Old 07-26-06, 09:47 AM
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The problem with most "racing" style pedals is that all of the pressure is on a very small portion of the foot. Pro cyclists are paid big bucks to suffer and endure pain, and get "free" medical care and surgery. They put up with the pain involved with racing pedals. There is no valid reason for a cyclist who rides for commuting, recreation, or fitness to put up with pain.

The best pedal is one that supports a large portion of the foot. Rivendell.com sells an MKS "sneaker" pedal that supports the entire forward portion of the foot, and works well with any shoe, including tennis shoes, sandals, or dress shoes. Switching to THAT pedal will greatly reduce or eliminate foot problems.

The second cause of foot problems is using "hard gears". For marketing reasons, bikes sold to recreational cyclists are often geared the same as the bikes used by pro sprinters for their 40 mph dash to the finish line, with five or six gear choices between 90 inches and 120 inches. Recreational cyclists think "Well, I've got this 52 x 11 gear, and a 52 x 12 gear, so I'm gonna use it". The result is foot pain and knee injuries.

Most recreational cyclists would get better fitness, and avoid foot and knee pain by learning to spin lightly at high RPM's (85 RPM's to 95 RPM's) in easy gears, around 55 inches, 60 inches, 65 inches. Spinning a 65 inch gear at 90 RPM's enables a cyclist to maintain a good pace, get a good workout, yet not put excessive pressure on the feet, and do damage to their knees.
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Old 07-26-06, 10:13 AM
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Get a professional fitting. When I bought my new road bike, they moved my cleats. I had thought they were on the ball of my foot, but it is clear to me now that they were not. I used to get the hot foot after three mile, now I don't, even after 30 miles. It did take me a couple of weeks to get used to clipping in with the cleat in its new position.
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Old 07-26-06, 12:22 PM
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one more:

https://bloombikeshop.com/articles/rbr/hotfoot.htm

Hot foot occurs most often on long rides. It may develop sooner or more intensely on hilly courses because climbs cause greater pedaling pressure. The pain results when nerves are squeezed between the heads of each foot’s five long metatarsal bones. These heads are in the wide part of the foot (the “ball”) just behind the toes.

My worst case of hot foot occurred on a 3,400-mile, 24-day transcontinental ride. With an average distance of 140 miles per day, no rest days and more than 100,000 feet of vertical gain, my dogs were smoking by the third week.

My RBR partner, Ed Pavelka, remembers being in agony near the end of one 225-mile ride early in his long-distance career. It was his first experience with hot foot, and the problem plagued him that season until he changed to larger shoes. Feet always swell on long rides (more so in hot weather), causing pressure inside shoes that normally fit fine.

“Hot foot” is actually a misnomer. It’s not heat but rather pressure on nerves that causes the burning sensation. You’ll sometimes see riders squirting water on their pups in a vain attempt to put out the fire.

Besides tight shoes, another risk factor is small pedals, especially if you have large feet. Small pedal surfaces concentrate pressure on the ball of the foot instead of spreading it the way a larger pedal will. If your cycling shoes have flexible soles like most mountain bike shoes, they’ll be less able to diffuse pressure.

Before Ed figured out his shoe-size problem, he tried to solve the pain with cortisone injections. That’s an unnecessary extreme in most cases -- and it’s not fun to have a doctor stick a needle between your toes. Here are several better solutions.

Adjust shoe straps. It’s the top strap nearest your ankle that stops your feet from slopping around in your shoes. Tighten it as much as necessary, but keep the strap nearest your toes loose for maximum room.

Use thinner insoles and/or socks. This will give your feet more room to swell without restriction, especially helpful if your shoes are borderline snug.

Re-focus the pressure. Many riders solve hot foot by moving their cleats to the rear by as much as 8 mm. Long-distance enthusiast may go back as far as the cleat slots allow. They might even drill new rearward holes. After using this remedy, lower your saddle by the same amount if you moved your cleats backward 2-4 mm. If more than 4 mm, lower the saddle about half the amount. So, if your cleats go back 1 cm, put the saddle down 5 mm.

Add metatarsal buttons. These foam domes are placed on insoles (or are built into them) just behind the ball of the foot. They spread the metatarsal bones so the nerves running between them aren’t pinched by pressure or swelling. You can find these products in the foot-care section of drug stores.

Switch to larger pedals, for the reason mentioned above.

Buy new shoes. Look for a model with a wider-and-higher toe box, a stiffer sole and an anatomical footbed with a metatarsal button. One model that meets these specs is the Specialized BG, with versions for road and off-road.

Purchase custom orthotics. These plastic footbeds are supplied by podiatrists or sports medicine clinics. Among their biomechanical benefits are built-in metatarsal buttons. Be certain the practitioner understands you're a cyclist, because orthotics for runners are not what you need. Cycling is a forefoot activity, not a heel-strike activity
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Old 07-26-06, 02:46 PM
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Try arch supports with a metatarsal pad. These can be a big help. Although they are not the best available, the leather Dr. Scholls arch supports (not the gel pads) at your local drug store are a good place to start. They are cheap enough to find out if this cures the problem. bk
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