Foot Numbness and Cycling

Foot numbness when bicycling typically occurs when the nerves between the bones under the ball of the foot become compressed. Numbness usually develops on longer or more intense rides and can linger even after you stop exercising. Besides numbness, symptoms can include tingling, bruising and a burning sensation. Because cycling-related foot numbness can disrupt your riding routine, it's essential to understand why it occurs and how you can remedy it.

Cycling Credit: BrilliantEye/iStock/Getty Images

Common Culprits

Wearing tight shoes while bicycling can cause inflammation between the joints that connect your toes to your feet, which decreases blood circulation and triggers foot numbness -- especially if the shoe constricts the ball of the foot. Improperly positioned bicycle cleats, which are attachments that connect the bike pedal to your shoe, can cause foot numbness. This is especially true if the cleats are too far forward on your foot, which places direct pressure on the ball of your foot. Excessive hill riding or turning the bicycle pedals too slowly can also cause foot numbness because both situations put pressure on ball of your foot.

Say Goodbye to Foot Numbness

Lift your foot up into the air on the top of the pedal stroke a few times to get your blood circulating properly and help relieve pressure on the soles of your feet. You can also stop your bike to flex your toes or circle your ankles, or walk alongside your bike for a few minutes to increase foot circulation. Change your shoes if foot numbness continues. Wear a shoe that provides adequate foot space and enough height for tall arches. You can also move your cleat back so that it places pressure further back on your foot instead of behind your toes.

Preventing the Tingles

Invest in custom arch supports or footbeds to help prevent foot numbness from reoccurring while bicycling. These products help distribute your weight more evenly, which helps decrease pressure on your toes and the balls of your feet. In addition, do not wear shoes that have irregular seams or straps that can press against your feet while bike riding. Select wide-fitting bicycling shoes or have a cobbler stretch your shoes out.

Safety First

Excessive bike riding can aggravate and even worsen foot numbness. Reduce your bike ride time or intensity until the symptoms subside. Immediately stop riding your bike and seek medical treatment if you experience shooting or burning pain in your legs or feet, extreme discomfort, intense tingling in your legs or buttocks, or weakness in one or both feet. These could be symptoms of a more serious condition, such as a herniated disc, disc degeneration or spine misalignment.

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