numb toes.

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numb toes.

Postby mark field » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:21 pm

hi to all, ive noticed since i started road cycling that after about 15 mins i get tingling and numbness in my toes, more on the left foot, sometimes only the left one, ive been riding bike for years and its only happened since ive been on the road bike (6 weeks). i can take the mountain bike out next day no probs, i dont think its posture because the height of bars and seat are identical to the mountain bike, the only thing i can think of is im riding with my running compression shorts and have propper cleated shoes. any thoughts? 'cause im at a loss. cheers
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by BNA » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:25 pm

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Re: numb toes.

Postby wookie661 » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:25 pm

the shorts could cause this, if they are too tight, they will be cutting off certain blood flow to your toes, which will cause numbness.

i have the same problem in my hands. leaning on the bars too heavy will cause me to get numbness and tingling in my fingers.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby rustychisel » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:28 pm

slightly narrow shoes is often the answer. If your shoes are 3 strap or 2 strap and ratchet, try loosening the middle strap. When riding try to 'scrunch and crunch' your toes occasionally as you ride.

If not that maybe consider a good pair of inner soles, then look for other causes. Compression and nerve pinching can afflict in the wierdest of ways - it's not completely unknown for lower back issues to manifest in foot and ankle pain. Truly. Try the simple things and if pain persists...
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Re: numb toes.

Postby GrumpySmurf » Thu Mar 31, 2011 5:05 pm

I suffer the same thing - but on both (cleated) MTB as well as road. There are a few "common" fixes which has worked for some people, in order of which to try first;

1. Loosen the front part of your shoes - wither laced or velcro - the part that is across the ball of your foot
2. Consciously pedal with your foot's heel downwards rather than toe downwards
3. Move the cleat on your shoe back a little bit behind the ball of your foot
4. Buy SIDI Mega Wide shoes

if like me, you still have problems
5. Go for a professional bike fit - and explain the issue
6. Go to a podiatrist that specialises in cycling / sports and explain the issue
7. Have metartasal buttons fitted
8. Constantly massage your foot (just rolling it over a tennis ball), but everytime you are seated
9. Buy more new saddle / shoes / bibs combination

If you're like me - by now, you would have spent thousands, and still have issues - just HTFU
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Re: numb toes.

Postby bosvit » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:47 pm

Good advise Mr Smurf.

I'm about halfway through your list and have had a fair bit of benefit.

For numbness in my toes I found changing my seat angle stopped it completely. Hot spots however have been a much harder fix, but getting there.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby Baalzamon » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:50 pm

bosvit wrote:Good advise Mr Smurf.

I'm about halfway through your list and have had a fair bit of benefit.

For numbness in my toes I found changing my seat angle stopped it completely. Hot spots however have been a much harder fix, but getting there.


Fixed hotspots using Specialized inserts for me. I've got good arches and went for the blue and it's lovely now :)
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Re: numb toes.

Postby mark field » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:41 pm

rustychisel wrote:slightly narrow shoes is often the answer. If your shoes are 3 strap or 2 strap and ratchet, try loosening the middle strap. When riding try to 'scrunch and crunch' your toes occasionally as you ride.

If not that maybe consider a good pair of inner soles, then look for other causes. Compression and nerve pinching can afflict in the wierdest of ways - it's not completely unknown for lower back issues to manifest in foot and ankle pain. Truly. Try the simple things and if pain persists...


ive had a back problem for a few years but my if i dont get the problems on the mountain bike, then the idea of it being shoe related is more likely, i do have 3 strap velcro shoes but as i have flat feel they are relatively loose as snug or tight fitting shoes of any kind makes the top of my feet cramp up, i moved the cleats back more, but all that did was improve my endurance. not that thats a bad thing! i will try the scrunch and crunch trick though!!
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Re: numb toes.

Postby mark field » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:50 pm

GrumpySmurf wrote:I suffer the same thing - but on both (cleated) MTB as well as road. There are a few "common" fixes which has worked for some people, in order of which to try first;

1. Loosen the front part of your shoes - wither laced or velcro - the part that is across the ball of your foot
2. Consciously pedal with your foot's heel downwards rather than toe downwards
3. Move the cleat on your shoe back a little bit behind the ball of your foot
4. Buy SIDI Mega Wide shoes

if like me, you still have problems
5. Go for a professional bike fit - and explain the issue
6. Go to a podiatrist that specialises in cycling / sports and explain the issue
7. Have metartasal buttons fitted
8. Constantly massage your foot (just rolling it over a tennis ball), but everytime you are seated
9. Buy more new saddle / shoes / bibs combination

If you're like me - by now, you would have spent thousands, and still have issues - just HTFU


im worried that ill do my ankles if i ride heel down, i do alot of running and its a worry as ive had sprains on the back of my ankle before :(
what are metatarsal buttons??? the bike fit sounds good, im painfully saving my $$$$ for a new road bike and will get it fitted to me like a glove( i hope) ill certainly mention the problem to them.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby scotto » Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:32 am

wookie661 wrote:the shorts could cause this, if they are too tight, they will be cutting off certain blood flow to your toes, which will cause numbness....



ROFL - its only April 1 today - no getting in early

apologies and no offense if you were serious. you werent though were you ??!!
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numb toes.

Postby dugy » Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:22 pm

I wish it was a joke.
Have the same problem after about 50km's.
Will try some of the recommendations.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby mark field » Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:15 pm

Ive lost about 10 kilos since i posted, it isnt much of a problem now, but yep, on a real long ride i get the numb toes, i stand up to get some circulation happening and it seems to lessen the issue and i also adjusted my riding position to a more upright one. so whatever ive done it seems to be working. sort of. never happens on the mtb strangely enough.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby bigfriendlyvegan » Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:42 pm

I recommend some good inner soles as well. It was explained to me that, just like many road bikes are sold with "dummy" pedals on them so you can put your own on later, many bike shoes are sold with crappy thin inner soles that don't hold and support your feet properly. That is, they expect you to throw them out and replace them with something better.

Dr. Scholls does a great sports inner sole which I find works wonders.

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Re: numb toes.

Postby melbnut » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:44 pm

i had pretty much the same thing. Left foot toes would go numb after 30mins or so. I got a set of the green specialized inserts and rode 70k on sunday. PERFECT!!!
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Re: numb toes.

Postby elStado » Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:55 pm

Hrrm. Thread resurrection (rather than making a new one on the same topic).

I've just started wearing SPD MTB shoes (Shimano MT71) in the past 6 weeks and have been experiencing toe numbness after about 35-40 minutes of riding at a moderate pace. It's usually is worse in my right foot, but it often also occurs in my left foot as well after another 5-10 minutes of riding. It starts with a tingling feeling in my big toe and then after a while the toe starts getting numb. After another 5-10 minutes my big toe and a few of my other toes next to it have gone totally numb. It isn't really painful, just feels very uncomfortable.

If I stop riding and get off the bike and walk around the numbness goes away within minutes. If I am off the bike for over an hour that seems to be enough to prevent the numbness returning for another 30 minutes worth of riding. If I ride with regular shoes and flat platform pedals I don't experience the toe numbness, but I do get hot foot over the ball of my foot after ~30 minutes of riding due to the flexible sole of my shoe.

I've tried adjusting my cleat position, not doing up the laces/velcro too tight and also trying different thickness socks. I've managed to reduce the onset (it was happening after only 25-30 minutes originally) but I haven't managed to stop it completely. I find it seems to come on faster in the evening on my commute home, so I guess this is exacerbated if the foot is swollen or fatigued.

Thanks to my brilliant genetics I have low (not flat) arches, mild overpronation and mild bunions in both feet (right foot is a bit worse). So no doubt this is contributing to this discomfort as I also had issues with foot pain after walking more than 5-6km. I managed to reduce this by getting wider shoes with better heel support, as well over the counter sole inserts for arch support and cushioning. My MT71 shoes are fairly wide though (which is one of the reasons why I got them). I think I might try moving back the cleat position a little more, put my sole inserts in my cycling shoes, and try loosening the laces a little more. If that doesn't work it might be finally time to go see a podiatrist to get it looked at as it isn't fun to not be able to ride more than 15km without having to stop and have a rest due to experiencing some form of pain or discomfort, especially as I am planning to cover 70km+ per day while touring. I'm also looking into getting a professional bike fit done before I leave to try and get a more comfortable and efficient fit.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby trailgumby » Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:12 pm

Make sure you see a cycling-specific podiatrist. I pronate as well, and went to see a guy who knew his stuff and fixed me for walking. However, he's not a cyclist.

Unlike walking, you don't put your heel down and load it on a bike, so his classic orthotics that were designed to stabilise my heel to prevent pronation don't work in cycling shoes I found. It wasn't until I self-diagnosed that I have a Varus forefoot and shimmed it out with some Specialized Body Geometry inner soles that my knees started tracking properly which improved my knee and sacro-illiac issues immensely. I stopped banging my top tube with my knees :oops:

I run my cleats as rearward as I can get them.

That said, I wouldn't have thought that the above would contribute all that much to numb toes. Bike shoes do need to be a closer fit than normal runners or office shoes, as your feet don't spread as much and you want minimum slippage for the upstroke. Bike socks tend to be very thin with no cushioning compared to other sports socks.

All my shoes are of the three-strap velcro variety. I just adjust until they feel firm without causing pins-and-needles. Try loosening the laces down low near the base of the tongue so it's not so tight around the ball of the foot?

I have had some toe numbness but I *think* it was from flexier soles and me trying to push my big toes down and drive off the non-existent support. It's much less of an issue on my carbon-soled XC race shoes
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Re: numb toes.

Postby elStado » Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:34 pm

trailgumby wrote:Make sure you see a cycling-specific podiatrist. I pronate as well, and went to see a guy who knew his stuff and fixed me for walking. However, he's not a cyclist.


I don't even know if any exist in Perth. I'll have to look around or maybe ask the local podiatry clinic.

I run my cleats as rearward as I can get them.


Mine are quite far forwards. I'll have to drop them back a bit more.

That said, I wouldn't have thought that the above would contribute all that much to numb toes. Bike shoes do need to be a closer fit than normal runners or office shoes, as your feet don't spread as much and you want minimum slippage for the upstroke. Bike socks tend to be very thin with no cushioning compared to other sports socks.


I've noticed that. The MT71 shoes are a slightly closer fit than my dress shoes, they are labelled as US 9.7 when I would usually wear a US 10 to allow for spread.

I wear DeFeet Levitator (thinner summer socks) and Woolie Boolie 2 (mid thickness winter socks). I get numbness with both, however it seems to onset a bit sooner with thicker socks.

All my shoes are of the three-strap velcro variety. I just adjust until they feel firm without causing pins-and-needles. Try loosening the laces down low near the base of the tongue so it's not so tight around the ball of the foot?


I'll give it a go.
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numb toes.

Postby RonK » Sat Jun 30, 2012 7:46 pm

Numb toes - tight shoes.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby whitey » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:08 pm

RonK wrote:Numb toes - tight shoes.


Which can lead to Morton's neuroma which can be nasty. If this is consistently happening I would get to a podiatrist.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby elStado » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:00 am

Well, I tried loosening the lower end of the laces and also a slightly different pedalling technique (more upwards pull) and I didn't get numb toes this evening on the commute home.. so far so good.

I also rang around a few different podiatry clinics, one of them referred me to Darryn Sargant at Peak Podiatry in Subiaco who is apparently well regarded for sport-specific podiatry. Not sure what he's like with cyclists/cycling shoes though. I'm in the process of trying to sneak in an appointment but it's not looking likely before I leave in 3 weeks. Will just have to keep making my own adjustments to see if I can get a better fit.
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Re: numb toes.

Postby tk38 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:31 am

Sorry to jump into this thread.
I only seem to get this with carbon shoes, but all others seem to be fine. I've read above that insoles might be a good thing to consider. What insoles do you recommend, and where do i get them?
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