View Full Version : Numb Toes

01-22-2007, 06:11 PM
I've always had problems with numb toes - in both normal shoes and with my clipless cycling shoes. It's mainly in my left foot, and is worse when I'm pedalling hard - so my cadence drops.

It's pretty clear that it's to do with pressure on my foot, but I was wondering if anyone had any tips on what I can do to avoid the numb toes. Maybe adjusting the position of the cleat?

Any suggestions?

01-22-2007, 06:30 PM
It could very well be the cleat positioning. Some other ideas...

First, are you sure that your bike shoes are wide enough for your feet? One test is to just put them on and put your feet up while reading on the couch. If your toes go numb anyway, then they are probably too narrow.

If the width is ok, then the problem may be that you need stiffer shoes. A sole that flexes too much can cause numbness or a burning hot hellfire feeling. Some folks swear by a larger cleat/platform such as the Look design, but my opinion is that a stiff enough bike shoe will distribute the pressure evenly. I use Sidis (which are stiff) and SPD cleats (which are small) and have not had any problems with even pressure distribution.

01-22-2007, 10:25 PM
I did myself a favor and went to a foot Dr and told her the problem I was having with my toes. I am so happy i did cause my feet feel so much better. And it was a simple cure. i would go and see. It is easy to guess what it is but mine was genetic when i thought it was something i was doing. It had nothing to do with me really.

01-26-2007, 05:54 PM
The foot doctor is probably the way to go.

It might be related to when I fell over, blind drunk while negotiating a cobblestone path during my first week of university. That was 13 years ago now, but I am sure that I broke some bones in my foot at that time - I couldn't walk for a week, but was never x-rayed.

You will be pleased to know that I didn't spill my drink.

01-26-2007, 07:36 PM
because of my bunionettes (bunions on my little toes) my feet would go numb, and then would be very painful also. i didn't own any shoes that were wide enough.

i'm hoping now that i'm in the process of fixing them that this problem will go away.

01-26-2007, 07:46 PM
My toes go numb on the bike, too, at least after 45 minutes or so. I never worried about it, because for years (before I got a bike) my toes would go numb on the stairmaster as well. So it must be my feet (or something else I'm doing), not the shoes. It's annoying, but it doesn't hurt, so I doubt I'll seek medical attention - but I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one!

01-27-2007, 05:02 AM
My toes go numb on the bike, too, at least after 45 minutes or so. I never worried about it, because for years (before I got a bike) my toes would go numb on the stairmaster as well. So it must be my feet (or something else I'm doing), not the shoes. It's annoying, but it doesn't hurt, so I doubt I'll seek medical attention - but I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one!

Toes going numb on the stairmaster is a pretty common complaint. Almost anybody who goes longer than 30 minutes will have that problem if they don't shift their feet.

05-28-2007, 08:14 AM
I too have the numb toes problem, and I haven't really solved it yet. But I do have some advice. 1) I bought Gel inserts that only go under the balls of my feet from SPENCO. They are a cheap solution, and they definitely help (although they haven't cured the problem). 2) It was suggested to me that I switch my shoe/cleat system to one that has a wider cleat. Some road cleats span most of the distance across the ball of the foot. My current Shamano cleats have a contact point that is concentrated in the middle of my foot. It was suggested to me that spreading the point of contact across more surface area would help spread the pressure and stem the numbing. This is a problem that seems to be more common in women than men, as far as I can tell.

05-28-2007, 06:41 PM
I too, suffer from numb toes. Went to the doc when it got to be too painful to walk. Come to find out I suffer from, and have been suffering for years, from Metatarsalgia (http://www.foot.com/info/cond_metatarsalgia.jsp). My options are 3.

1. Get cortisone shots
2. Have surgery if the shots don't work
3. Suck it up and suffer the pain

I've opted to suck it up. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but perhaps you are smarter. Go to the doctor! Even if nothing is physically wrong, the money spent is well worth the peace of mind.

05-28-2007, 06:53 PM
CyclChyk - what kind of insoles are you wearing? If the ones your doc recommended aren't helping, you might be interested in the new Berry Superfeet, with the met button built in. (Orange is similar, but with a lower met button because it's pretty much intended for men's feet.) Some folks get huge relief just from wearing traditional Birkenstocks, too.

What kind of foot exercises are you doing?

Did the doc look at how your posture was effecting the weightbearing pattern on the foot? Are you doing deep hip rotator exercises? (to control the rotation of the femur/tibia so you don't weightbear too much to the medial side of the foot.)

What do the callousses on the bottom of your feet look like? Do you have a callous under the ball of your 2nd or 3rd toes? How about "whip" callousses, which are on the inside edge (medial/big toe side) of the big toe or ball of big toe?

05-28-2007, 07:48 PM
Knotted you are a wealth of wisdom! Thank you for that! Actually, the insoles the doc "prescribed" are specifically made for me and VERY expensive. I only ever got one pair made, and I am using some form of Doc Shoals at the moment. I have been "wrapping my toes" with sports tape for the last year or so. It helps for a little bit, but at some point, it stops working.

My weight is focused on my second toe (the one by the big one). So yeh, I have "roughened" spots at that point but not "calluses" persay. And the "whip" callous as you describe are there but they are mostly a "roughened" spot as mentioned before. I obsess about how ugly my feet are so I try to keep them "babied". My left foot is developing somewhat of a hammer toe while my right has avoided that.

I had foot surgery as a child and I always blamed my right foot pain on that, but apparently it was my bone being rubbed round. When my left foot started about 2 years ago, I didn't have the surgery to blame, and that is how I discovered my problem. My toes on both feet going numb are something I have kinda gotten used to, as awful as that sounds. They say women have a higher threshold for pain. Perhaps that is why I grin and bear it. The numbness is minor in comparison.

I will DEFINATELY check out the insoles you suggest. I have been doing a little reseach on it already. I heard the green Superfeet is the way to go but I think they are mostly for runners?

05-28-2007, 10:09 PM
I have the green in a couple pairs of my shoes. Doesn't matter if folks tell you one color or another is "for" a particular sport, get the insole that suits your foot structure and mechanics. (green DON'T have a met button)

It sounds like you have a dropped 2nd met head. A met button could really help support your collapsed met arch, which you can buy for about $10 a pair and have put on your favorite insoles (make sure the shoe store KNOWS what they are doing!) or you can buy insoles that already have the met button on them. (Superfeet berry, for example)

I've seen many of my patients "cure" or at least alleviate their metatarsalgia by strengthening the muscles that support their metatarsal arch and restoring the 2nd met head to it's correct position. (I've done it with my own feet.)

I've got to go to bed, but somewhere on TE are a list of intrinsic foot muscle exercises I posted. Search "intrinsic" or "fist and splay" and give them a try?

Edit: here they are. http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=15268&page=3&highlight=splay

06-06-2007, 08:41 AM
The physical therapist is a wonderful man....
He has helped my feet more than anything - he crushed up all of the scar tissue at the base of my foot where my toes connect and it was such a relief. I have numb toes when I ride too, from a previous injury. I know that scar tissue can rebuild itself and does tend to do so, so every once in awhile I plan to go back in and get "crunched" again.
Also, for footbeds, another TE'er suggested footbeds from itsyoursole.com that you warm in the oven and they custom form to your feet. I LOVE them. I had been using some specifically designed for cycling from superfeet.com but these trump them by far.
Good Luck

07-12-2007, 10:05 PM
My toes weren't numb but the balls of my feet would burn. Moving my SPD cleat back farther relieved most of this. A good reference is Andy Pruitt's Complete Medical Guide for Cyclists. Hadn't heard about the berry Superfeet. Will try as I have Superfeet in most of my shoes.