I just got back into cycling a week ago after almost 10yrs of putting it aside (The Marine Corps workouts took to much energy out of me). I am currently experiencing the same problem with numbness but its only in my right foot, and its only on my toes and the outside of my foot. I look at my spd cleats and they are at the same exact position as my left foot. Is it possible that because I'm right hand (right foot-kick soccer ball with right foot) that I may have more power in that leg so I might be using more power with my right leg more than my left? My shoes are very comfortable so I don't think thats the problem. I'm not a pro so I don't know for sure. Hope someone can help.
I notice I gat a pain in my left foot in one toe. I noticed that I was clenching my toes during my rides so I try to relax and it helps. I also wear Sidi Genius5 shoes. They have a ratcheting strap and two velcro straps. I leave the one near my toes loose and snug the middle one then tighten the upper one to keep my foot from sliding forward during the ride. Hope this helps.
FOOTBEDS ROCK SOLID: The beginnings of an interesting discussion and on open minded podiatrist in the midst. The answer in my mind is most likely a properly fitting shoe which includes an orthotic device. I have 24 years of riding and racing experience including state championships and medals in cyclecross, road racing, and mountain biking. I also ride our local velodrome. I ride double centuries and typically cover about 10,000 miles a year. At the same time I am a Master Bootfitter in the ski industry and the naivete in that arena is amazing. Lets start with a question. If I tie a rope around your leg at the thigh and tighten it up do you think your toes might go numb? So the answer is probably circulation. A properly fitting footbed will help keep the blood flow continuous. The doctor can tell you the proper names of the arteries and veins. How many flat footed sports can you think of? Skiing and bicycling come to mind. The rigid soles of a high end bike shoe (usually carbon fiber these days) help to serve to spread the pressure of the foot down into the pedal. Lance had Shimano develop the SPD-SL pedal to have a broad platform for power but imagine riding flip flops on a bike. You will have to hold your foot rigid to push the pedal. That takes unnecessary energy. I tell folks buying bike shoes to kick up to the higher end shoes as the most important shoes they buy are their bike shoes and they outlast running shoes by years. I can easily get 30,000 miles out of a pair of bike shoes. I usually get sick of looking at them before that carbon breaks down. Anyway, securing the foot, particularly the transverse arch in skiing and bicycling is important. Getting the 5th metatarsal to drop in is important too. There is a new product originally developed for bicyclists but works great for most skiers called ALINE. Excel sports in Colorado carries them in their catalog. They are usually only about $50 dollars and they are customizable and quick to do if there is a shop set up to do so. The doctor might consider offering them to his patients. I think everyone has alignment issues and their pedaling stroke is compromised whether they have knee pain or numb toes or not. Ask any skier who has footbeds in his boots how much you would have to pay him to ski without them. They won't do it for any price yet very few bicyclists use them even when they already own them for their street shoes. They can alleviate chronic knee problems for runners and bicyclists and in my mind any skier who goes out without them is asking for reconstructive surgery. If the footbed is a good fit, then the contact point with the shoe is the whole bottom of the foot. As a result the shoe (and also the ski boot) won't have to be tightened down to secure the foot in place. As a result there is less pressure across the top of the foot. One thing always effects something else. By the way you folks are generally using pedals that you "step-in" as they are not clips. Clips are those cage like things rarely seen on racers. That is because they are less efficient and more dangerous than the newer (20+ years now) step-in pedals. I prefer not to call them clipless. If I have a pedal with an old toe clip on it and I unscrew the clip, that would be a clipless pedal. (But it has become something of a generic term to refer to them as clipless, but I say lets get the language straight.)
I get painful toes and feet both in running and cycling. I even went to a podiatrist. He gave me inserts, with padding on the forefront of the shoe, but they still hurt after about 6 miles of running. To the point that my toes feel like they are broken. In snooping around the net, it looks like I have Morton's Nueroma, but I wasn't diagnosed with it. Just a guess on my part.
Thanks for all the info Doc. That's why I like reading these, you can get some really great info. As to what to call pedals, I agree "clipless" is not all that descriptive. If you took the cages off an old pair of toe clip pedals, you would have an open pedal, just like you rode when you were a kid. As to the other question as to whether you have a dominant leg? The answer is yes. There was an Active article on that a couple of years back that I printed out and saved. Something like 80% of sports injuries occur on your dominant side, which is not always the same side you right with. I'm right handed but left side dominant. A good way to help smooth out your pedal stroke is to do one legged presses, and try pedaling with one foot unclipped while it's on the trainer. I'm guessing that the people who have numb toes on only one foot, it is probably your dominant foot.
No relation in footwear but the pain is the same. I used the same snowboard boots for 2 years and within 5 minutes of my day , toes in both feet went numb. I tried everything, toe warmers , thin socks looser laces, blah blah. Last season I bought new boots with a bigger toe box and now i have no problems. So, it could be your shoes are to small which no amount of loosening the straps/laces will relieve the numbness. What good is a loose shoe anyway unless you want to throw it! HA
I agree with Triruth -- Seat or seat position may very well be the culprit -- Try a different type of seat and invest in a professional bike fit -- that solves tons of problems.
As far as the podiatrist speaking to stiff soles -- If you use biking shoes and then go back to soft sole shoes, the difference is unbearable pain -- way too much flexing with a soft sole -- The purpose of the stiff sole is to direct the energy into the pedal stroke.
I personally find that road shoes are much more uncomfortable than mountain bike shoes -- plus you can walk anywhere you want with mtb shoes.
Thanx for allowing me to give my "10 cents" worth
I agree with Tomrob36 on this one. Paying attention to what your body is doing is the #1 and most important thing we need to pay attention to prior to spending more money on new expensive shoes (Inserts are a plus). I realized while riding around corners or on loose gravel or uphill I would clench my feet. Now I pay a lot more attention to my body and I relax more on my rides. Training my brain to focus on my body has really help me. I normally repeat three words while I ride "smooth, power, relax" Smooth makes me focus on pedaling, power makes me focus on cadence and "the scraping mud off my shoes" as I pedal; relax makes me focuse on my body. It works for me.
All, I know this sounds way too simple, but it works for me. I have numbness/burning/pain in both biking and skiing. I apply the same technology to both, assuming that the reason I get the pain is because there is not enough blood circulating in my toes. As a kid I was told to tie my shoes really tight. Now that I am much older and wiser I leave my shoes/boots loose especially around the bottom. I have tried boots that were too big and my toes still burned if I had them too tight around the bottom. Same with biking I leave my shoes loose at the bottom and pay attention to my toes. While riding, whenever I think about it, I move my toes around in my shoes and don't have any pain.
I realize this topic has been discussed at great length, but when your toes feel like "sausages on the BBQ" you are willing to try anything. I started in MB shoes and started having problems on longer rides..after 80-90 km. (50 plus miles) I switched to a carbon fibre shoe with keo pedals, with little improvement. After a few more months and my tolerance levels shortening to 50-60 km, I went to a very reputable bike shop, bought $ 350 shoes and shimano spd pedals. WORSE! Went back, got the pricey bike fit, specialized inserts. Some temporary improvement. Moved the pain from my toes to the ball of my foot. (both feet, actually) I have made numerous trips back to my "shoe guy" and have also had the position of the cleats adjusted. Nothing seems to make a big difference and next week I start a 800 mile ride over 12 days!
Apparently I have a very high instep and was not getting the proper support. The toes would get squished when my arch compress on the downstroke. That is a very non technical description, but it made sense, so problem should be solved right? I do not tip my toes down when pedalling. I wiggle my toes often and when it gets bad, I unclip one foot at a time to rest my feet. This gives almost instant relief if not already out of hand, but pain resumes fairly quickly after clipping back in.
Is there +anything +else anyone can suggest? I am afraid of a very painful 2 week ride soon!
Omabiker per usual is right on. An orthotic is the first step in being fit on the bike. It is the primary interface between you and the bike. The bones of the foot need to be structured in a weight bearing position. I suggest, that is strongly suggest, trying ALINES. See www.ALINE.com for a dealer near you or email me from the profile and I'll get you hooked up. They were developed for cycling and are designed to support the bones of foot. They are customizable and most retailers will take a return if they don't work because they aren't permanently modified. Prices vary by dealer but are reasonable and I use them in my ski boots and hockey skates and inline skates as well.
So, having your foot structured soundly is the key but also a stiff soled shoe is crucial. My guess is that if you are using toe clips your shoes my be somewhat flexy and you may be holding your foot in a tension like aspect to sustain a rigid position that you aren't getting from the shoe. In fact, I was going to suggest that you use a second thin sock to support the foot a bit. So long as it is a thin wicking sock, coolmax or the like, your foot should not get too hot. Unlikely that anyone else who reads this rides as many miles as I do and I haven't gone without socks in decades. I admit, if I was doing tri's I probably wouldn't but not for general road riding. If I was doing an Ironman century I would take the 2 seconds to put them on, then I'd run in them too.
So, I presume that the toe box of your shoes are not too narrow. Hope you get this situation resolved.
Would you believe it??!!
I just read an excellent article which I will forward, which confirms everything I have experienced and gives lots of solutions for the problem. Having finished a 2 week ride of over 1350 km or 800 miles last week, I have learned how to "manage" this problem. In addition to the suggestions in the article, I unclipped one shoe and pedal one footed for a while, thus giving instant relief which lasts quite a while. Since both of my feet are affected, I then switch to the other foot. A breif rest with shoes off also helps a lot.
Good luck with the problem...it is managable.
the web site is womenscycling.ca
I did not realize it but I had posted a statement about a year ago on this topic.
May I suggest that when dealing with this issue, whomever has a problem, that you consider the cause and the symptoms. Usually, in the long run it is best to deal with the cause. Dealing with the symptoms may alleviate some short term duress but dealing with the problem should eliminate it and decrease the risk of a long term, hence chronic injury.
If for example, you think you have a neuroma, see a doctor. Most people who get floatation cleats for their pedals to alleviate knee problems are dealing with the symptom. Knee pain is the symptom. A rotational cleat alleviates it but compromises the power stroke for example. Usually the problem is alignment. The foot everts or pronates and the solution is to get a footbed in there.
Toe numbness might have several causes. Circulation, nerve damage, and so on. Keep exploring the issue but try to find the cause.