Numb feet when cycling? Podiatry can help!


Numb Feet while Cycling is a common complaint from anyone who spends any significant length of time on a bike. Research suggests that approximately 54% of Cyclists will experience Foot Pain, while 61% of this pain is localised to the Forefoot. The Foot Pedal interface is the only transfer of power propelling the bike forward and anything that impacts the ability of the feet to effectively and efficiently transfer power will result in some form of compensatory pattern.


Common Cycling Related Foot Injuries:

  • Foot Numbness (Particularly the Forefoot and Toes)
  • Metatarsalgia (Ball of Foot pain)
  • Plantar Fasciopathy
  • Achilles Tendonopathy
  • Calf Cramping
  • Medial Malleolar Contusion


What causes Foot pain in Cyclists?
Numb Feet while Cycling and other Cycling related Foot Injuries typically have multiple causes. Some of the common culprits are listed below.

1.Foot Function: The Mechanics and Posture of the Foot can contribute to Foot pain in the Cyclist. 

    1. In the case of an unstable hypermobile foot which collapses inside the shoe during the pedal stroke, there is a loss of power. The use of a Cycling specific Custom Foot Orthotics can stabilise the foot, creating a more rigid lever to maximise transfer of power from leg to pedal and improve performance. 
    1. High Arch/Rigid Foot type – All the load tends to be focused over a very small surface area under the ball of the foot creating pain and discomfort in this region. Custom Foot Orthotics can be helpful in redistributing the load over a larger surface area and away from the ball of the foot. 


2. Shoe Fit: A badly fitting shoe will either create pain in the case of an overly tight shoe which compresses the nerves and blood vessels in the forefoot, or create an unstable environment in the case of a loose shoe.


3. Cleat Placement on the Shoe: Often the cleat can be positioned too far forward on the shoe, increasing the pressure under the ball of the foot. By moving the cleat further back it can take the load off the nerves and arteries of the forefoot relieving symptoms.


4. Leg Length Difference: Riders will compensate for a Leg Length Difference in a variety of ways, for example, a dropping hip on the shorter side or a pointed toe on the longer leg, the list goes on and on!


5. Seat Height: If the seat is positioned too high it can cause the rider to point the toes down to reach the bottom of the pedal stroke, meaning your calf muscle remains in a semi permanent state of contraction inhibiting circulation to the foot. Riding with the seat position too low creates a situation where the foot never gets to experience pressure relief during the pedal stroke.


The issues Riders face with their feet can usually be resolved with correct Bike Fit and well fitting shoes with the appropriate foot correction inside the shoe! 


If you have any questions, feel free to reach out via email or book an appointment with one of our friendly Podiatrists. 

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