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  1. #1
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    Help with toe numbness

    Hi All,
    My left foot smallest toe and the next one get numbed while riding, but not always. The other day I did 32miles and it bothered me for only few minutes during the whole ride. However, today I did only 14miles and it bothered me for most of the ride.
    I ride a road bike Fuji Sportif 1.3 Disc 2018, which has an endurance geometry. Generally speaking, I feel comfortable on that bike. The only thing that gets numbed and bothers me is this left foot issue. The right foot doesn't bother me. I'm right handed.
    My pedals are these Canway BMXs:*https://www.amazon.com/Canway-Anti-s...s=canway+pedal. Those pedals have a great build and excellent grip. I really like them. However I notice that they don't give you a good flat surfaces in the center. The only good flat support comes from the edges where the grip nuts are.* I wonder if getting pedals that give you a much more uniformly flat surface across the whole contact area can help.
    I do notice that when I get it numbed, changing the position of my foot does help for a little bit, but I have a hard time finding that position that helps for good.
    Of course, my left foot is the one that gets injured easily as well if I walk long distances or go jogging. In fact, I got into cycling because my left foot couldn't bear more jogging.
    I had arch issues diagnosed by the doctor since I was a kid but really there is little that can be done at this point medically.
    I'm posting to see if you can help me with ideas of what I can try out that can help to alleviate this issue. Any help is appreciated!
    Thanks!
    Last edited by carofe; 08-06-2018 at 09:02 AM.

  2. #2
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    I've had this happen when I wear heavily padded Smartwool socks.

    I wear Sidi MTB shoes on my road bike, and Crank Bros Candy pedals.

    When the tingling and numbness begin on a ride, I typically loosen all three velcro closures on the foot that's tingling/numb. That usually fixes it.

    For me the cause is always some part of my shoe-sock combo putting pressure on a nerve, usually down the top of my foot.

    I have flat feet. Since you have high arches (I'm envious), you might have more pressure on the nerves to your toes than I do. Check for whether your shoes and socks are putting pressure on a nerve that runs to your toes. Loosen your shoes to exactly the point where your foot is able to float vertically in the shoe, but not flop up and down against the upper and the sole when you're spinning.

    Also, on really long rides, when I feel some tingling or numbness and I've already loosened my shoes as far as I want to, I flex my toes, to wake up all the bored, sleepy muscles down at the toes.

  3. #3
    tlg
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    What kind of shoes are you wearing on your platform pedals?
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  4. #4
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    Help with toe numbness

    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    What kind of shoes are you wearing on your platform pedals?
    New Balance [s]Running[/s] Training shoes.
    Last edited by carofe; 08-06-2018 at 09:01 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    I've had this happen when I wear heavily padded Smartwool socks.

    I wear Sidi MTB shoes on my road bike, and Crank Bros Candy pedals.

    When the tingling and numbness begin on a ride, I typically loosen all three velcro closures on the foot that's tingling/numb. That usually fixes it.

    For me the cause is always some part of my shoe-sock combo putting pressure on a nerve, usually down the top of my foot.

    I have flat feet. Since you have high arches (I'm envious), you might have more pressure on the nerves to your toes than I do. Check for whether your shoes and socks are putting pressure on a nerve that runs to your toes. Loosen your shoes to exactly the point where your foot is able to float vertically in the shoe, but not flop up and down against the upper and the sole when you're spinning.

    Also, on really long rides, when I feel some tingling or numbness and I've already loosened my shoes as far as I want to, I flex my toes, to wake up all the bored, sleepy muscles down at the toes.
    Thanks for the reply. Iím going to check the shoes tightness and the sock seam on my next ride. Iím also reading about placing the foot a little bit more forward to move the pedal spindle a little bit more back. Now that I remember, my right foot used to bother me as well a while ago with toe numbness but I solved it by placing the ball of my foot much forward and farther from the pedal spindle.

  6. #6
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by carofe View Post
    New Balance [s]Running[/s] Training shoes.
    Those soles are probably too soft/flexible. You should try cycling shoes. You could use MTB shoes without cleats and still use the platform pedals.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by carofe View Post
    Thanks for the reply. Iím going to check the shoes tightness and the sock seam on my next ride. Iím also reading about placing the foot a little bit more forward to move the pedal spindle a little bit more back. Now that I remember, my right foot used to bother me as well a while ago with toe numbness but I solved it by placing the ball of my foot much forward and farther from the pedal spindle.
    Good move.

    Toes going numb is a common symptom of cleats being too far forward. Rider is pedaling "on his toes." Transfer the weight smack over the ball of the foot or towards the back, and the toes don't have to do any weight bearing and thus won't hurt, unless of course there's a restriction in the shoe [or sock].

    Definitely get some cycling shoes. SPD would work fine with the little cleats that would put your where you want them every time, thus alleviate numb toes. You'll enjoy it more compared to being unattached. Still, if the shoe sole is soft, you should feel pressure on the ball of the foot, not the toes. So move your feet forward on the pedals, anyway.
    Last edited by Fredrico; 08-06-2018 at 09:28 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Those soles are probably too soft/flexible. You should try cycling shoes. You could use MTB shoes without cleats and still use the platform pedals.
    Thank you tlg! I see on amazon MTB shoes without the clipless thing, with rubber sole. Are those the ones you are recommending?

  9. #9
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by carofe View Post
    Thank you tlg! I see on amazon MTB shoes without the clipless thing, with rubber sole. Are those the ones you are recommending?
    No idea what you're looking at. There's a bazillion different MTB shoes. But any cycling shoe would be better than a running shoe.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrico View Post
    Good move.

    Toes going numb is a common symptom of cleats being too far forward. Rider is pedaling "on his toes." Transfer the weight smack over the ball of the foot or towards the back, and the toes don't have to do any weight bearing and thus won't hurt, unless of course there's a restriction in the shoe [or sock].
    Thanks Federico. Iíll try that out. I will try to get the spindle as far back as I can that still allows for heel drop on uphills and see how it goes. I think Iíll give a midfoot position a try too.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by carofe View Post
    Thanks Federico. Iíll try that out. I will try to get the spindle as far back as I can that still allows for heel drop on uphills and see how it goes. I think Iíll give a midfoot position a try too.
    You'll probably have to drop the saddle a few mm to compensate for the slightly shorter saddle-pedal reach.

    There's a whole school of thought that pedaling towards to arch of the foot delivers more power on the down stroke, but that is at risk of hurting the bottom of the foot as there's no bony protrusion to support the weight. The "knuckle" behind the big toe is the least stressful place to concentrate the weight.

  12. #12
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    Here I am doing my daily toe stretch which really helps to prevent numbness.

    Hope that helps...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Help with toe numbness-toe-point.jpg  

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11spd View Post
    Here I am doing my daily toe stretch which really helps to prevent numbness.

    Hope that helps...
    Lol, awesome! ...and ouch!!

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    I got a pair of five ten MTB shoes at the local Performance Bike store to try them out to see if that helps. I did notice that the regular shoes I use for biking have a very thin sole in the front, right where the ball of the foot is. The 5.10s shoes do have stiffer and thicker sole.
    Letís see how that goes.
    Thank you!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by carofe View Post
    I got a pair of five ten MTB shoes at the local Performance Bike store to try them out to see if that helps. I did notice that the regular shoes I use for biking have a very thin sole in the front, right where the ball of the foot is. The 5.10s shoes do have stiffer and thicker sole.
    Letís see how that goes.
    Thank you!
    thought you may enjoy a giggle...
    as discussed, three issues help toe numbness:
    - cleat position more aft as fred mentioned
    - ample room in toe box of shoe and/or a bit more shoe length
    - sole stiff enough to not deflect under load AND foot supported in a way to not become concave under load. Google Metatarsal button. Geometry of the foot must be preserved under pressure.

    As a long time cyclist, I have pretty much experienced it all. Sadly, we learn by trial and error. Because of the repetition of cycling, if you do something wrong repetitively, you set yourself up for overuse injury. I forever continue to try and stave off neuromas in both feet and plantar facia. Shoe geometry, correct support of the foot and pedal stroke mechanics are all critical.

    Best advice I can give, is if you experience any foot issues....STOP. Don't ride like that. If you must see a cycling expert in your town to sort it out. There is a lot of info on the internet to help including youtube videos.

    Your condition if unaddressed can result in neuromas which are difficult to reverse but can be reversed by 'change'. Space between toes under load is key. Toes smashing together under load is a recipe for nerve damage. Hope that helps.

  16. #16
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    These are my results so far:
    I used my new MTB shoes for today's ride of 19 miles. I started the ride and during the first 7 miles I didn't get any numbness but I started to feel some tingling. I began to pay attention to my pedaling and I noticed that my leg was too extended while pedaling. So I stopped and lowered the saddle ~1cm to make sure also that I had a better chance of an even foot pressure on the pedal.
    I kept going and the tingling was sort of contained. I didn't get worse or went away.
    Then I stopped before the last 10 miles and I remembered the comment from Federico about the "bony protrusion to support the weight" and what I did was making sure the weight of my pedaling was entirely and as even as possible across the ball of my foot. To verify that, when starting pedaling, I raised my toes to verify that the ball of my foot was doing all the work and evenly across all of it.
    And all that seemed to do the trick. I was able to finish my 19 miles without numbness or tingling.
    I think that part of my left foot is sensitive to any little thing that's not right.

    Now every time I start pedaling I have to make sure my foot is in the right position by raising my toes. Sounds kind of funny . I think clipless pedal would fix my foot position, but the problem I have with clipless pedals is that my feet are in a weird V shape and forcing them to be straight would hurt my knees.

    Thank you guys for all your ideas and help.

  17. #17
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by carofe View Post
    I think clipless pedal would fix my foot position, but the problem I have with clipless pedals is that my feet are in a weird V shape and forcing them to be straight would hurt my knees.
    Yes clipless would help a lot.
    You can adjust the cleat position to match your "weird v shape" (pigeon toed?) unless you've got a serious foot problem, in which case you'd probably want to consult a podiatrist.
    Also cleats have float which allow some movement of your feet while pedaling.

    These are a good option to start with. One side is flat, other side is clipless.
    https://www.performancebike.com/shop...pedals-00-1473
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  18. #18
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    Sounds like you're on the way to getting it. 32 miles is a looooong way to ride in soft-soled running shoes.

    I'm assuming your "weird V shape" means your feet toe out. The cleats on clipless pedal systems can be adjusted for that. Since your feet are so sensitive to specific position, you might benefit a great deal from trying clipless.
    Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland?

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    Help with toe numbness

    I know also that on high speed crashes the clipless system unclips you, but what happens on low speed crashes? Does you foot end up pointing south? That would be painful.
    I already broke a meniscus once because of a bending my leg on a fall. It takes long to recover sometimes from dumb falls, if it happens to be a bad one.

  20. #20
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by carofe View Post
    I know also that on high speed crashes the clipless system unclips you, but what happens on low speed crashes? Does you foot end up pointing south?
    Your concerns are misplaced. Trust me... your foot will come out just fine. Exactly the same way as high speed.
    I've fallen hundreds of times at low speeds (mountain biking). Never ever ever once was my foot/ankle injured.
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    Unfortunately I don't know of anyone who doesn't forget to unclip as they roll up to a stop sign at some point when first learning to use clipless pedals, usually resulting in that slow embarrassing crash. Maybe if you made it a point to practice it a lot but usually most of us have a fall or two or three before it becomes second nature. Worst of my injuries from this was a sore wrist for a month from trying to brace my fall on concrete.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    Sounds like you're on the way to getting it. 32 miles is a looooong way to ride in soft-soled running shoes.

    I'm assuming your "weird V shape" means your feet toe out. The cleats on clipless pedal systems can be adjusted for that. Since your feet are so sensitive to specific position, you might benefit a great deal from trying clipless.
    Definitely.

    Locking the feet down in one favored position would end numb toes for good. Clipless pedals are supposed to release the feet in an accident. The original Looks were ski bindings.

    With tennis shoes, you could go with toe clips and straps, and a standard pedal with a flat non-serrated surface to press down on evenly all the way across.

    Then once you feel the exquisite improvement in pedaling ease and versatility, you'll go on to clip-less pedals. Or like this old fart, put a slotted cleat on the racing shoe, tighten the strap, and I'm "clipped in" as much as possible. Truly awesome to work up a 120 rpm spin without the feet leaving the pedals, every bit of that energy going straight to the wheels. The bike becomes an extension of the body. Well worth it.

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    I can also think of one thing that maybe should be looked at:

    The cant of your feet.

    Some people, especially supinators (under-pronators) tend to put extreme pressure on their last two toes (or the outside of their feet). It can be in one foot, or in both.

    Personally, I found for me the best way to cant my foot (actually both of my feet) correctly was to use wedges or shimming (Google them) under my cleats, but I also know some people who have canted/shimmed from the heel. Something as small as a 1.5 degree shim can open up a whole new world with regards to cycling & clipless pedals.

    Steve Hogg is a very good source to read about this. Like aforementioned, for some cyclists, it can change your life, your riding pleasure, and your riding performance.

    https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...art-2-wedging/


    Good luck to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BelgianHammer View Post
    I can also think of one thing that maybe should be looked at:

    The cant of your feet.

    Some people, especially supinators (under-pronators) tend to put extreme pressure on their last two toes (or the outside of their feet). It can be in one foot, or in both.

    Personally, I found for me the best way to cant my foot (actually both of my feet) correctly was to use wedges or shimming (Google them) under my cleats, but I also know some people who have canted/shimmed from the heel. Something as small as a 1.5 degree shim can open up a whole new world with regards to cycling & clipless pedals.

    Steve Hogg is a very good source to read about this. Like aforementioned, for some cyclists, it can change your life, your riding pleasure, and your riding performance.

    https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...art-2-wedging/


    Good luck to you.
    +1 and Steve Hogg is a great resource to read about more aft cleat mounting which takes pressure off the forefoot as Fred mentioned. I ride Speedplays with extension plates and my cleats are positioned about 12mm or so aft of the ball of my foot for this very reason.

    Canting of the foot should be looked at OP as BH suggested as well because it changes the load path into the sole of the foot and also most notably shoe cant is the basis for knee tracking and knee health...the tibia following the angle of the foot through the pedal stroke as viewed from front/rear of the bike.

    An important note. You need the right orthotic in the shoe to properly support it. This is the only way the foot which is flexible 'won't implode' on itself under repetitive load. Almost 20 years ago, I did some pretty serious damage riding in cycling shoes that were too narrow with my cleats too forward. Took a long time for neuromas to subside. I pretty much ride pain free today fortunately. You must change to avert long term injury and avoid the path I went down.

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    Help with toe numbness

    Thank you all for all the good information. I need to ride more to verify what the problem is. I think my cadence may be too slow and as result my pedaling is hard, and my weaker foot is getting tax harder. I need to pay attention to whatís going on first to get a better idea.
    Regarding my foot, they are with the toes pointing outward and when I stand on the ball of my foot and do a squat my knees go outward as well. So the root of the V shape is in the hip. When I force my foot to be straight so that my knees are straight when doing a squat I feel that my hips are forced to do something ďunnaturalĒ.
    This is getting complicated .

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