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Numb foot - possibly shoes?

Old 02-19-20, 03:03 PM
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OkFine 
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Numb foot - possibly shoes?

About 6-8 miles into each ride, my right foot starts to numb starting from the pinky toe and travels inward. Originally I thought it may be a pinched nerve so I started experimenting with different bibs, shorts, pedals, cleat positioning, saddles, and saddle positioning to no avail. I did learn that if I only "pull" on the "up" portion of the pedaling rotation every few minutes for a dozen or so rotations, the numbness is alleviated. If the group gets caught by a redlight and I stand for a few seconds, full sensation comes back into the foot.

Someone mentioned that it could be the way the shoe fit and it sort of clicked in my head that it made sense, because some 20 years ago I broke the outer metatarsal on my right foot that the swelling never really subsided. It never hurts and never caused any issues in my running or walking so I didn't think about it, but considering where the numbness starts and my pinky toe being up in the air, it stands to reason that shoe fit may be causing increased pressure in that area.

Should I look into different shoes or am I missing something else? I'm currently using Fizik R5B shoes.
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Old 02-19-20, 03:35 PM
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One underappreciated cause of numb or hot spots is foot swelling. Try leaving the shoe laces looser than you otherwise would, and if that helps, consider going up a shoe size. Worked for me, after moving my cleats and adding cleat wedges failed to help.
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Old 02-19-20, 03:40 PM
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What worked for me was nicer/wider pedals and stiff (carbon) soled shoes.
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Old 02-19-20, 03:45 PM
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I had similar issues and started wearing compression cycling socks and went to a half size larger shoe and that made a huge difference. My toes were getting pinched and this contributed to the numbness. You might have to experiment with different shoes to find a toebox that works for you. I went with some Giro with velcro straps that gave me plenty of room.
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Old 02-19-20, 03:54 PM
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A couple of free things you can try first is to:

1. Make sure your cleats are in the correct position, if you lean on the outside of that foot, that could cause some pain.
2. Try to loosen up the velcro strap at the end of the shoe, move your foot around, and then(without pulling) lay the velcro strap down without force. If i have the bottom boa or velcro strap too tight, I've had foot pain as well once my feet start to swell.

But from my experience, Fizik shoes are narrow. I had a pair of R1B's and i could feel the edge of the insole poking into my arch in the middle of the shoe. I was able to switch out the insoles and used the shoes for almost 11,000 miles. I am now using Shimano RC9's. Shimano shoes are a little bit wider, especially in the toe box. Since you are feeling the pain in the toe box(different than my issue) and if the two things above do nothing, a new shoe may be in your future. What stinks is you will not know if a new wider shoe is going to work for you while you are in the store and you will have to put some miles in to know for sure.

Good luck.
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Old 02-19-20, 05:26 PM
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Shimano shoes sorted that for me
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Old 02-19-20, 06:21 PM
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Your profile doesn’t say how old you are, but as we get older the ligaments in our feet age and cause our feet to get wider over time. You may need to find shoes that are less pointy or wider. For me I went from size 43 to size 44 that and getting good Specialized insets fixed most foot problems for my SIDI shoes.
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Old 02-20-20, 04:25 AM
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Happens to me more often now too, even on the indoor trainer like the other night.

Best I can tell it's due to compression on the top of the foot impairing blood flow. If I keep the top straps loose there's less problem or no problem. Same with my walking shoes -- I need to keep the laces fairly relaxed along the top of the foot and cinched a little more around the ankles to keep the shoes from flopping around.

My feet are very narrow and bony with high arches, and most off the rack shoes are too large for me, so it's not a problem with shoes being too small. I use one or more insoles and arch supports to get the right fit (ProFoot Miracle insoles are the best I've tried, and much less expensive than the custom orthotics I used to get). I have similar problems with custom or appropriately sized shoes. If I wear thicker socks or layers I need to be more careful.

Compression socks can make it worse if I leave them on too long or they're too tight. I like the compression around my legs, but not my feet. If I wear compression socks at home or to bed it'll affect the circulation to my feet and the little toes go numb first.

I like simple Velcro strap shoes because I can reach down while coasting and adjust the strap. Often helps.

It's affected my pedaling style too. I can't really pull up much because with the shoes secured fairly loosely my foot flops around a bit. So I tend to stomp down on the pedals, pretty much the same as with platform pedals and no foot retention. I prefer clipless road shoes for the rigid soles -- helps reduce another problem, arch cramps.
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Old 02-20-20, 08:03 AM
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Sounds like your shoe is putting pressure on your foot. Loosen them way up or try different shoes.
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Old 02-20-20, 08:45 AM
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before buying new shoes I would play with the lacing. I eventually found happiness w/ different shoes
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Old 02-20-20, 08:50 AM
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I'm 33 for whatever that's worth. I had to think about it for a second. Crazy how you're asked that less as you get older.

I went from SPD to the SPD-SL pedals (I had an adapter to use these shoes) thinking the larger platform might spread out some of the force, but I can't tell that it did much. I also experimented with cleat placement, but these Fizik shoes only allow the cleat to be moved forwards/backwards so it was a short test.

Usually I keep the front velcro strap as loose as I can and then the ratchet closure part just snug enough to keep my foot from sliding in/out. I had started out with them really tight, but found myself loosening each time trying to reduce the numbness.

The general consensus seems to be swap shoes since these are so narrow and that Shimanos are wider. I guess I'll be looking around for shoes. Any other brands I should keep an eye out for?

Thanks everyone.
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Old 02-20-20, 12:51 PM
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I'm 32, and just had this begin for me. Never had it before over many years of riding and several shoes. I asked my girlfriend about it - she's a physical therapist, and she thought the culprit might be the sciatic nerve, impacted from sitting on the saddle. I'm not sold on this explanation, but might be something to consider. In any case, I second what others have said - try loosening the shoes, and then different shoes. Also it sounds like you have a boa system or something like that. Sometimes old school laces, or another closure system that allows more variability for tight and loose areas, rather than the boa system which applies the same pressure across the whole area, can help.
I still haven't gotten my numb toes figured out - I've loosened the shoes, and its improved but isn't perfect. Next steps for me are: adjust the saddle and bars for better position of the back/sciatic nerve. I also got back on the yoga mat this week, so we will see how the rides go this week. Last attempt will be new shoes, but I'm not there yet.
Hope you get this solved, and good luck. Let us know if you come upon a solution

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Old 02-20-20, 02:37 PM
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I've also been struggling with numb toes, starts with my 2nd smallest toe on each foot and moves inward. I have wide feet and still riding on flats because it's so hard to find wide SPD shoes at reasonable prices. My main cycling shoes are at least 1/2 or 1 full size too long to accommodate my wide foot and I've mostly associated my numb toes to saddle fit/sciatic nerve as mentioned above. If I'm riding in the city and getting out of the saddle to stand at red lights my feet/toes hold up better than long distances on trails without relief. I've now tried several saddles and I'm not so sure it's the saddle fit, so I'm back to shoes.

Looking forward to warmer weather so I can ride some distance in open toed sandals and see if I still get numb feet... that ought to at least eliminate one question.
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Old 02-20-20, 02:56 PM
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I'll add that aside the switch to Shimano shoes from Fizik, also found that I needed asymmetric arch support
Moving the cleats back, all the way to the stops was an additional gain
I do a lot of climbing out of the saddle, feet are very happy now
8+ hrs all good
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Old 02-20-20, 04:40 PM
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You can try thinner sock too. At one time, I was having a lot of issues with my feet swelling around 35 to 40 miles into a ride. Thinner socks helped, and I'm actually going to admit that I got my wife to buy me some very thin women's ankle socks and wore those. And by thin, they were sheer enough to see through.

I also seemed to get the idea that my swelling was due to hydration and/or electrolytes. Drinking more seemed to help a lot and by mile 50 or 60 my feet didn't bother me. However since getting both my hydration and electrolytes somewhat dialed in, I've not had any swelling to the point of discomfort.
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Old 02-20-20, 06:52 PM
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Ditto, thinner socks. Solved some of my foot problems during long rides. If I need warmer feet I'll use shoe covers, but still wear thin socks.

And saddles. I suspect saddle pressure might be causing some circulation problems I'm having on my second road bike this year. My main road bike is down for servicing now. I had no problems with it last year. The backup bike has a saddle that seems immediately more comfortable -- flexible shell, cutout to relieve perineum pressure -- but I suspect it's just transferring pressure to another trouble zone and causing problems with circulation or a nerve.
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Old 02-25-20, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by OkFine View Post
I'm 33 for whatever that's worth. I had to think about it for a second. Crazy how you're asked that less as you get older.

I went from SPD to the SPD-SL pedals (I had an adapter to use these shoes) thinking the larger platform might spread out some of the force, but I can't tell that it did much. I also experimented with cleat placement, but these Fizik shoes only allow the cleat to be moved forwards/backwards so it was a short test.

Usually I keep the front velcro strap as loose as I can and then the ratchet closure part just snug enough to keep my foot from sliding in/out. I had started out with them really tight, but found myself loosening each time trying to reduce the numbness.

The general consensus seems to be swap shoes since these are so narrow and that Shimanos are wider. I guess I'll be looking around for shoes. Any other brands I should keep an eye out for?

Thanks everyone.
To the shoe width issue, I have these and they are plenty roomy:

Northwave Core Plus Wide

To the numbness issue, I still get numb toes, starting at the second toe. It happens with these, with boots, and even with sneakers and toe clip/strap vintage pedals. I'm convinced that my numbness is caused by continuous pressure on the bottom/front of my foot because of the way I pedal. I've moved cleats around, etc. When I spin lighter, taking the pressure off briefly, it alleviates the numbness.
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Old 02-25-20, 10:12 AM
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Lake shoes have wide options, that is what I use.
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Old 02-25-20, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
...I'm convinced that my numbness is caused by continuous pressure on the bottom/front of my foot because of the way I pedal. I've moved cleats around, etc. When I spin lighter, taking the pressure off briefly, it alleviates the numbness.
Very likely. I've had more episodes of tingling and numbness the past few months, and it coincided with a deliberate change in my pedaling style. I switched from higher cadence, around 90-100 rpm, to around 75 rpm and harder gears, after noticing a pattern of my heart rate pegging way too quickly when spinning, especially on climbs. I suspected too much energy was wasted on simply lifting my legs for the next downstroke. I was just trading one problem for another with no real net gain in performance.

A slower cadence and bigger gears lowered my heart rate at the same speed/perceived effort, especially on climbs. But the additional pressure on the metatarsals occasionally causes circulatory problems. So, as you described, I'll occasionally switch back to spinning in easier gears, stand to pedal, etc., to restore blood flow. And good insoles help (the ProFoot Miracle insoles).
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Old 02-25-20, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by OkFine View Post
I'm 33 for whatever that's worth. I had to think about it for a second. Crazy how you're asked that less as you get older.

I went from SPD to the SPD-SL pedals (I had an adapter to use these shoes) thinking the larger platform might spread out some of the force, but I can't tell that it did much. I also experimented with cleat placement, but these Fizik shoes only allow the cleat to be moved forwards/backwards so it was a short test.

Usually I keep the front velcro strap as loose as I can and then the ratchet closure part just snug enough to keep my foot from sliding in/out. I had started out with them really tight, but found myself loosening each time trying to reduce the numbness.

The general consensus seems to be swap shoes since these are so narrow and that Shimanos are wider. I guess I'll be looking around for shoes. Any other brands I should keep an eye out for?

Thanks everyone.
You should have a little side to side movement for cleat placement . Are your cleats shifted all the way to the inside? How wide are your hips? I am a Clyde and have used the Shimano pedals with longer (+4mm longer) spindles. With those pedals, i have more of my foot supported under the cleat. Instead of "hanging" off the side as much.
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Old 02-25-20, 01:34 PM
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I had a fair bit of foot numbness when I started riding, and got great help from a professional fitting on my bike. The fitter noticed that I was pointing my feet down while I pedaled, he likened it to running on my toes. Ever since, I make a point of keeping my foot level as I pedal, I even sometimes chant, "heel down, heel down." It's done wonders for me.

I've also got horribly wide feet, and Lake's ended up working best for me (after trying wide Sidi, Spec, etc).
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Old 02-26-20, 10:39 AM
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I didn't read through all the posts, so not sure if this was mentioned already: You may need insoles that properly support your foot as well as metatarsal forefoot wedges that tip your foot inwards or outwards. Specialized makes some great, inexpensive footbeds ($30-35) that come in 3 different arch heights. Specialized also offers the wedges I mentioned but a Specialized LBS should help you determine which you need. Superfeet is another brand of footbed but they aren't cycling specific and cost more ($45-50). That is, proper cycling shoe thickness (relatively thin) isn't offered in 3 diff arches. I do you the latter in my trail running shoes.
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