Toes go numb while riding. Anyone have any ideas the cause?
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  1. #1
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    Toes go numb while riding. Anyone have any ideas the cause?

    So Iíve been riding road bikes for along time. But recently just got back into it again after about 1.5 years off the road. Iíve had an issue with my toes going numb for probably the past 10 years or so but have never found a clue. Iíve tried different pedals, shoes, bikes with different geometry etc with no success.

    Bikes Iíve tried in the past
    Ridley Xcalibur
    Wilier Izord XP
    Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc
    Current bike is a Giant Advanced Pro Disc


    Also Iíve tried different bar height stem combos, seat height etc.

    Also paid $250 for a professional fit with no success. Waste of money since it didnít work in my opinion. And they ended up selling me stuff that didnít work for me. Seat, stem etc.

    Iíve also tried different shoes. I have wide feet so lean towards shoes with a wide toe box and typically buy about a half size big in length. Like 1/2Ē. Iíve tried Sidi Genius Megas, Lake CX 237 and now Bont Riots with full carbon soles and heat molded. Also tried a few diff EMT clear positions but can never seem to get the cleat far enough forward to be at the center of the bike that comes out by the big toe so my cleats are maybe 1/2Ē back from center of the ball of my feet but thatís as far forward as I can get a Shimano cleat. Iím running Dura-ace pedals with blue Shimano cleats.







    Also just for reference Iím a big guy with a bad back. Iím 6í4 and 250lbs. Iím not sure if it could be back related or not. Also I have high arches. Iím guessing itís a circulation issue but cannot figure it out. Iíve tried making the boa system really loose or the ratchet strap and nothing helps. Numbness happens about 10-15 miles in on every ride. The longer I go the worse it gets. Only what to get rid of it is stop and take off my shoes and walk an wiggle my toes. Any thoughts appreciated?

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    Last edited by lacofdfireman; 01-01-2019 at 05:36 PM.

  2. #2
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    Do you pull upwards on the pedals every once in a while? So you can separate the bottom of your feet from the soles? I've had my toe numbness issues, too, and I've gotten temporary relief with this. You might also try riding sockless. Not only does it lend me a hair more wiggle room, it's something that allows me to better grip the insoles of the shoes with my toes, all the better to exercise my toes to keep the blood circulating.
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  3. #3
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    What insoles have you tried?

    Sounds more like nerves rather than circulation. The latter would kick in straight away if it was pressure/restricted blood flow.

    What is your standing/seated arch height?

    What other sports do you do?


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    n.m. redact

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    happened to me after many years of no symptom. in my case i had suddenly developed a bad habit of applying pressure with my toes. i loosened up my foot and it went away

  6. #6
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    Google "Morton's neuroma."
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  7. #7
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    I find that when my toes start to go numb it's because I am scrunching up my toes like I'm trying to grab the insole with them. If I focus on keeping my toes relaxed, then the numbness goes away.

    Since you have the cleats all the way forward, they are putting more pressure on the toes. Try sliding the cleats reward a little bit and see if that helps.
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  8. #8
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    I used to have much more trouble with numb toes after rides. I have wide feet with high arches and high instep. My podiatrist recommended some aftermarket insoles, and once I started using them in my shoes (all shoes, including cycling shoes) the problem was much reduced.

    You might try going to a podiatrist and getting some recommendations. It would be a good idea to bring your cycling shoes so he/she can see how they fit.

    Edit: also bring/wear the shoes you wear the most - dress shoes for work, sneakers for around the house, etc.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by xxl View Post
    Google "Morton's neuroma."
    That was my thought as well. I have it in my right foot. Started developing it after walking around Boston in dress shoes every day for a few years.

  10. #10
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    My left foot would occasionally start to tingle, but not go numb. I wore thicker cold weather socks for a ride and it helped a lot. I wear 2pr socks in the summer now. I think my issue is the foot swelling up after awhile.

  11. #11
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    I'm confused at your description as to why your cleats are all the way forward. Lon Haldeman said to relieve numb toes/hot foot, cleats have to be moved back.

    Do you have a metatarsal bump on your insoles? They help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frdfandc View Post
    I find that when my toes start to go numb it's because I am scrunching up my toes like I'm trying to grab the insole with them. If I focus on keeping my toes relaxed, then the numbness goes away.

    Since you have the cleats all the way forward, they are putting more pressure on the toes. Try sliding the cleats reward a little bit and see if that helps.

    I was going to mention the cleat placement, also. I don't remember ever having toe numbness, but my cleats are the opposite of yours - mine are shoved all the way back. More comfortable for my feet.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by frdfandc View Post
    I find that when my toes start to go numb it's because I am scrunching up my toes like I'm trying to grab the insole with them. If I focus on keeping my toes relaxed, then the numbness goes away.

    Since you have the cleats all the way forward, they are putting more pressure on the toes. Try sliding the cleats reward a little bit and see if that helps.
    +1

    This is exactly when I feel numb toes and after relaxing I get almost instant relief.
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  14. #14
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    Toes go numb while riding. Anyone have any ideas the cause?

    Quote Originally Posted by csburbank View Post
    +1

    This is exactly when I feel numb toes and after relaxing I get almost instant relief.
    Working at the Fire station today but tomorrow is my day off and i plan on riding 20 miles or so. Iím going to put my cleats all the way rearward and see if that makes a difference. Maybe like you say Iím putting to much pressure on my toe box and need to distribute the weight better. Iíll also carry an Allen wrench with me to adjust them while riding if I feel they are to far back. I havenít tried this yet. I was always under the assumption that your center of cleat should be aligned with your first metatarsal bump which even in the fully forward position as it is now is still behind that location.

    Thanks for the help. Looking forward to trying out different cleat position.


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    foot pain has plagued me while riding for 28 years. The Sole brand molding insoles help a bit. Also taking ibuprofen for long rides is essential for keeping out of pain. My shimano shoes seem to cause less grief than my Lake shoes, but I use em both still - ibuprofen 40km+ rides
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by lacofdfireman View Post
    Iíve also tried different shoes. I have wide feet so lean towards shoes with a wide toe box and typically buy about a half size big in length. Like 1/2Ē.
    This is confusing to me. A half-size difference is more like 3/16Ē. A 1/2Ē difference is like a size and a half. Below is a size chart from Zappos.com:

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by flatlander_48 View Post
    This is confusing to me. A half-size difference is more like 3/16Ē. A 1/2Ē difference is like a size and a half. Below is a size chart from Zappos.com:

    Attachment 324448
    Not sure what to say here other than I wear a size 13-13.5 in everyday shoes and wearing a size 48 Bont Riot. When I measure have a little less than a thumbs width of room from the front of my shoes to my big toe. Shoe sizes are in inches in USA far as I know. No way that a 1/2Ē difference is a full size and a half difference. Maybe in Euro sizing but not USA sizing. My shoes feel great.


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by lacofdfireman View Post
    Not sure what to say here other than I wear a size 13-13.5 in everyday shoes and wearing a size 48 Bont Riot. When I measure have a little less than a thumbs width of room from the front of my shoes to my big toe. Shoe sizes are in inches in USA far as I know. No way that a 1/2Ē difference is a full size and a half difference. Maybe in Euro sizing but not USA sizing. My shoes feel great.


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    You know, you might be one of the few people that need a custom shoe. The riot is a good shoe. But it is generic. I struggle to say how a custom differs in shape and I canít ever get a pic to work on this site... but the toe area shouldnít be a rounded weird thing that a human foot has never seen but all shoes seem to favor... while not cheap, I have had customs made that are amazing for speedskating, a far more brutal sport on the shoe/foot interaction. Happy to help further if this a route you want to explore. Granted, I offer one of a great many possible explanations/solutions... and it is an expensive one.
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  19. #19
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    I will also chip in supporting the idea of moving cleats rearward.
    Run mine all the way back as well.

    I like Sidis, as I think the toe box is a bit more generous than many brands. Have been happy with the shoes from Performance. But they're going out of business.

  20. #20
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    Try tightening your shoes less than you have been. That's what did the trick when I had a toe going numb. I was going a turn or two to many with the boa.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Try tightening your shoes less than you have been. That's what did the trick when I had a toe going numb. I was going a turn or two to many with the boa.
    Ditto.

    When my toes start tingling and going numb, I loosen the straps on my shoes. It works every time.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    Ditto.

    When my toes start tingling and going numb, I loosen the straps on my shoes. It works every time.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    Ditto.

    When my toes start tingling and going numb, I loosen the straps on my shoes. It works every time.
    A friend of mine suffered from hot foot on long rides on a hot day and used to spray his feet with water from his water bottle. One day he forgot he had Gatorade in his water bottle. :-)

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Try tightening your shoes less than you have been. That's what did the trick when I had a toe going numb. I was going a turn or two to many with the boa.
    While it certainly will work in many circumstances to relieve discomfort, it also means your shoes donít fit.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    While it certainly will work in many circumstances to relieve discomfort, it also means your shoes donít fit.

    Not necessarily. My shoes fit perfectly for most rides I do.

    However, on very long rides, especially on very hot days, I think my feet swell a bit after 20 to 30 miles of hard riding.

    And even after I loosen the straps a bit, the shoes are still fit to my foot well enough that I don't notice any adverse effects, even on hard, standing climbs.

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