Help with hot foot

I have long had a problem with hot foot (nerve pain in the ball of the foot), mostly in the left foot but sometimes both. I’m a recreational cyclist (don’t race) and most of my rides are under 90 minutes. It’s only when I go longer that it starts hurting.

I had been told it might have been my Speedplay pedals and older shoes so I bought new shoes and pedals last year (Look Keo and Garneau HRS-90 shoes)…but it didn’t seem to help.

I have a goal to ride up Mount Lemon again this spring. Did it 3 years ago and had to stop halfway at a camp area to run my feet under cold water! I’ve done that at century rides as well

Has anyone else had this and resolved this issue?

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Not sure this is at the level of “hot foot,” but definitely I’ve had and still get from time to time a hot spot on my foot on longer rides. Just recently had one that was highly annoying on a long indoor ride and what really helped was getting off the bike and changing to dry socks. I suspected the soaked sock, coupled with the pruny foot pad and the soaked shoe just created a friction that was aggravating it.

Relief was instantaneous. Now on a group ride you can’t always stop the group to change your socks and that may not be your same issue, but I don’t think there is one cause or one solution. You might try changing sock brand since that’s probably the least costly. Maybe thicker if you wear thin now, maybe thinner if you wear thick now. It could be the type of material. It could also be how tight you have them laced. Perhap they are too tight, or maybe too loose. And if that doesn’t help, then maybe these shoes aren’t the ticket either, which unfortunately is a costlier troubleshooting exercise unless you have another pair. I hope you figure it out!

Welcome to the forums :slight_smile:

I cant say I have, but have you tried moving the cleat position further back towards the heal?

Thanks. This is definitely a pressure issue leading to neural pain (manifesting as burning), not just on the skin. My socks don’t get very sweaty.

Wondering if I need custom insoles.

I have a slight leg-length discrepancy (5/8") and it’s the foot on my shorter left leg that feels it the worst; one would think it would be the opposite.

I’ll try that, thanks.

Do you usually have to lower the saddle a little to compensate for doing that?

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Yes but it is a tiny adjustment - so like shift the cleats back 1cm, drop the saddle 0.5cm. Assuming you had the right saddle height in the first place.

I use Lennard Zinn’s advice on this type of stuff if you want more.

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I get this from time to time. What I’ve found helps the most is to keep shoes as loose as possible - so have any dials or straps set at the point where you have enough tension to ride but the max amount of space for your foot in the shoe. I’ve always just assumed it’s due to my foot swelling in the shoe from heat and do loosening the straps helps.

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thanks! I’ll try it. My left leg is slightly shorter so when moving the cleat back I have to be careful I’m not reaching more on that side. I’ll check out what Zinn says.

I have had hot foot at times. Things that have helped:
Keeping the shoes looser at the ball of the foot and moving the cleats closer to the heel. Metatarsal buttons or pads are also recommended. By Andy Pruitt in his “medical guide for cyclists” book.
Specialized brand shoes that were my first cycling shoes had a metatarsal pad in the insole and once I loosened the middle strap a bit and moved my cleats back, the problem went away. Then those shoes started to fall apart. The lbs had giro shoes so I bought the most comfortable ones but the hotfoot came back on longer rides. I found silicone pads on amazon and stuck them to the bottom of the giro insoles just behind the ball of the foot and they have helped dramatically. The right one is a little off-center, so I feel it when I put the shoes on but once I’m on the bike I don’t notice it and most importantly, no burning toes.

Temiart Ball of Foot Cushions Metatarsal Pads for Women Men Soft Gel Insoles Supports Forefoot Cushioning, Pain Relief Morton’s Neuroma Foot Pads (4 Pair)

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I used to get very bad hotfoot on long rides. Someone suggested trying Specialized BodyGeometry SL Footbeds. I’ve been using them ever since and never a single issue. I have them in all my cycle shoes, even the ones used for TR sessions.

I have high arches so use the green variety - there are blue & red for different arch types.

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thanks, I’ll look into it. My previous shoes were very pricey Specialized that were molded to the foot…but they were quite old (~10 years).

I’m thinking this may be a footbed thing.

interesting. The description of Morton’s Neuroma sounds exactly like what I’m feeling, but it only ever happens on a bike after a long time in the saddle, never with any other shoes or activities. I’ll try out these insole supports!

@Jennifer_Sage please continue trying to get this resolved! It can be serious if you let it go.

I moved my cleat to a more mid-foot position & it has seemed to alleviate my issue but I’ve only done ~7hrs riding that way so who knows what would happen on a long ride.

As a cautionary tale, I never had ‘hot foot’ and never had sympathy for anybody who complained about it. I was on a long ride last year and about 16 hours in I started to experience it (also on my left foot). For the next 6 hours it was really painful & I privately took back all the dismissive things ever uttered about the condition.

Then it stopped bothering me for the rest of the race. I haven’t been able to feel that part of my foot since. So don’t just let it go. It can cause permanent damage.

thanks. It’s like stepping on a hot coal! But it’s always returned to normal after a few hours. The longest ride I did last year was 4 hours and the last 2 hours were pretty painful; I may do a century this coming summer and that would be the longest ride in a few years.

I developed hot foot and hit orthotics from a podiatrist. That plus shoes with a roomier toebox did the trick…

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I’ve never heard it called hot foot but if it’s Morton’s Neuroma I’ve dealt with it for years, mostly with hiking/running/skiing. For me it’s solved by more room in the toe box (wider and more volume). Shoes that are wide and/or allow you to tighten the ankle without tightening the toe area are the way to go. Soft fabric on the sides of the shoe at the ball of foot helps a lot too. A thinner sock is another thing to try.

Good luck, I feel your pain! For what it’s worth, I don’t think an insole is always necessary, and it could even make it worse if it takes up more room in the shoe.

Also, when you start to feel it take your shoe off for a minute and give the ball of foot a light massage. Sometimes I can do that and it goes away for the rest of the activity. Not ideal in a race but it’s well worth it in the middle of a four hour day!

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What i have done is move the cleat far back, i mean, really far back. I used to move them very very far back. Dropped the saddle height accordingly, Love it!

Hello, I have found that pushing your cleats as far back as possible,
resolved my problem. On my older shoes, I needed the speedplay
fore/aft adapter plate that allows you to push your cleats farther back. On my newer cycling shoes they allow for more rearward placement of my speedplay cleats, so I do not need to use the speedplay adapter plate. I hope this advice is helpful.

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Have you seen the book Bike Fit by Phil Burt? Little section in there on it. To summarise, the suggestion is to check shoe size, comfortable with no pressure on toes, and then moves on to looking at shape and fastenings. Talks about toe box and problems caused by having saddle too high.

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