Nagging Foot Numbness On Moderate to Long Rides

I have managed to get this problem down from severe to now just plain nagging. I have done it all; cleat wedges, wedges in the shoe, wide shoes, cleat position, insoles and I just keep having numbness in my feet after about 45 mins on the bike. Is this something I just need to suck it up and get used to? Please help!

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I had a similar problem for a while. After about an hour of riding, I would develop severe numbness in the ball of my one of my feet, behind my toes. I could get a little mileage out of stopping and getting out of my shoes for a few minutes to move my toes and stretch my feet, but most long rides just ended in misery. I tried changing my shoes, using insoles with more arch support, and adjusting my cleats, all without much improvement.

Eventually I saw a podiatrist, who quickly traced it to calf muscle tightness. I started to put a lot more effort into stretching and it gradually improved. It still bothers me once in a while, but it never progresses to the point of pain that it used to. It was eye opening to realize that something that hurts is probably actually being caused by an imbalance or tightness somewhere else.


In my experience you should tighten the rear strap/dial firmly but the front dials/straps should be kept as rather loose.

Also, some socks are more comfortable than others. I find that my expensive thin cycling socks actually tend to be less comfortable than cheap athletic socks.

Make sure your foot is all the way in the back of the heel when you tighten it up, especially if they’re a tight fit.

If it’s just one foot that foot might be bigger than the other one. You might need a slightly better shoe.

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Every ten-fifteen minutes wiggle your toes while you are pedalling for several revolutions

The rest of the time remind yourself about the kick & pull motion Chad describes, so it’s not all a stomping down motion.

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Have you had a bike fit?

As already mentioned, it’s quite possible that the issue stems from a different part of your body. It could, for example, be caused by your saddle or saddle position.

I experience a numb little toe on my left foot and have experimented with all the things you suggested. I visited a podiatrist and, whilst not fixed, it looks like the problem is linked to reduced flexibility in my leg and back.

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I had a similar issue that got worse and worse over time (about a 2 year period). Initially bearable and irritating, but agony in the end. And being a triathlete, it was especially painful when running off the bike. Turns out I have a mortons neuroma. I would go to a podiatrist to have that assessed. And also go for an ultrasound on the area to confirm potential diagnosis.

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I too have this problem and like you have tried almost everything. One thing that seems to have helped (although it’s early days) is increasing the stance width on my left foot ( the right is perfectly ok). It appears that I am constantly trying to increase my stance on that that side and thus i’m always pressing the front side of my foot hard up against my shoe. I got the clue from not really having the problem on my MTB. Getting different shoes where I could move the cleat a long way back also helped a lot. I had some Northwave winter boots which really gave me a lot of problems. When I checked my actual foot position in them I found the cleats were a long way forward. They were on ebay that afternoon.

Do you have a bunion?

I had the same issue in my left leg. It was so severe I thought it might be iliac artery endofibrosis, but I simply don’t ride enough for that to be the cause. Eventually figured out that due to an old knee injury on that side, my glute/hamstring is really tight. Stretching daily (but especially before and sometimes during a trainer ride) eliminates it.

No. I had to google it to make sure though.

Lot’s of good comments and suggestions. I am going to try stretching more. I never do that.

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I had this happen recently when I switched riding shoes. I was riding all winter in my road shoes and needed to do a few workouts in my mountain bike shoes (I had forgotten my road shoes at work) and I developed some foot numbness during hard or longer rides.

I started stretching again, changed to a better padded sock, and loosened my shoes just a little. I also was very mindful of changing positions just slightly on my last long ride. I was sore (very few long rides for me so far this year) but my feet were generally OK. Stretching my calf on the bike every so often seemed to help as well.

Definitely don’t just “suck it up”. Numbness or tingling is nerve issue and you don’t want to ignore it because prolonged pressure can lead to long term damage.
My personal experience with numbness was on outer part of right foot, couldn’t sort it out until I gave it a longer rest, I switched to walking/running for a couple of weeks because I figured I can’t really tell if something is helping or not if my foot starts getting numb immediately because my nerves are constantly under pressure.
In the end it was pretty complex issue, I also changed everything and what helped was really combination of things, I got wider shoes (shimano xc701 wide model), new insoles (g8 performance - can recommend them), spd cleats have nice float, and I spent some time figuring what position puts least amount of pressure on my feet. Then I also incorporated streching because I realized that sometimes this numbness goes through my whole leg and it starts from my ass basically.
But number 1 thing was taking some time off bike because you can’t really figure out what the problem is if your foot is “tired” and in such state that it will get numb no matter what.

good luck!

Similar issues here. For me, my right big toe falls asleep on just about every ride. Here are some of my observations:

  • It is worse on flat roads and better on climbs (I think this may be due to the fact that I sit up while climbing thus opening hip angle)
  • My right foot does want to be “toe out” more so than right
  • My right hip has less flexibility (poor external rotation).
  • On video - I notice that my right knee collapses slightly on the downstroke
  • I have high arches - I have tried custom insoles etc. No help.
  • I have tried shimming, moving cleat around, etc. Use speedplay pedals with lots of float. Use very stiff soled shoes.
  • If I unclip and shake it out it goes away for a bit, but comes right back.

I think it is related to the lack of hip mobility, lower back tightness, etc. I don’t think this is a foot issue. I wish it was and could be solved with an insole but don’t have high hopes.

I am also considering moving cleat in or out on right side to see if that helps.

Any tips let me know. Will try to do better on the stretching front.

I get numbness coming down the mountains. Fairly long descents. Both feet, or I should say toes go numb. Strange that this only happens to me on the long mountain descents. I sometimes think it’s likely the way I shift my body position on the bike coming down. As soon as I get down to the flat lands the numbness goes away. Has anyone else had this issue?

What did you do for treatment?