Toe cramp AFTER cycling

A quick Google didn’t turn up anything useful so thought I’d ask here…

Sometimes after a few hard-ish rides (say 3 days in a row), my right big toe and the area in the arch behind the big toe start to cramp. It’s kind of a Charlie horse feeling, like the muscle/tendon wants to pull the toe out and under. It’ll last for 5-10 minutes then fade away.

Only right side, no other issues. Shoes fit correctly (I have narrow feet, so it’s probably not a shoe-too-narrow issue). It also happens across all my bikes and shoes (4 bikes, 3 shoes). And only happens an hour plus after the ride is done, not on the bike.

Any ideas?

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For me, these helped with similar issues. The benefit is that you can easily change the height, side and forward position of the support

Another option is afcourse a specialist, but real custom inner soles are way more expensive

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My guess is that you are tensing up your toes when you are riding…which is exactly what I do. My right big toe especially feels the effect of this, as my ties are contracting / bending and then pushing down on the sole of the shoe. I constantly have to consciously relax my toes and try not to flex / contract them as I ride.

Have you managed to adjust the cleats (or anything else) to mitigate this? I did try moving my cleats back a bit last year (to help with this) and the position feels better overall, but didn’t resolve this problem.

Behind your toe at the first metatarsal head, or at the front of your arch? Do you pronate? If so, an insole with some varus correction could help.

Both* and yes. I’m quite flat-footed and narrow-footed, so typically grab some insoles with extra arch support.

  • Feels like the back of toe and front of arch are both cramping, but it could just be the arch.

Off-the-shelf insoles are almost never the answer. it’s worth getting custom insoles that correct your pronation and put your foot in a neutral position within the shoe. You may need more varus under your heal and/or under your first metatarsal head, rather than more arch support. It’s impossible to tell over the internet.

I highly recommend Lamson shoes and insoles. HOME. They are expensive, but not unreasonably so for custom shoes and custom insoles, and less than many spend on wheels or other gear that is far less important that a rider’s contact points with the bicycle. Don Lamson can make insoles for your production shoes, but many production shoes have soles that are shaped from side-to-side, rather than flat, and this can lead to issues with insoles that do not take the shape of the sole into account. Lamson would need your shoes for a brief time to do this. Lamson shoes are designed to use with his custom insoles. I worked with Don 35 years ago in Vail CO when’s he was custom fitting ski boots and building insoles at his shop Boot Lab of Vail and he was just starting with his own cycling shoes and was fitting the shoes for the 7-11 cycling team and others. His shoes are incredible. The fitting process looks daunting, but really is not.

No, mostly because it is (I believe) a reflexive thing and not related to my shoe or how it fits. I experience it no matter what shoes I am using, no matter the discipline and whether inside on the trainer or outside in the road / trails.

Touchwood the few times Ive had cramp in the foot, behind the toes, its been on flat pedals and I’ve had to concentrate on pedaling with the ball of my foot as I would with clipped pedals. Ive only had similar with clipped pedals when pedaling unclipped and a quick shake/ stretch and clip in sorts it.

I tend to raise my big toe when I exercise. I recommend seeing if you can relax it more during rides. I always put holes in the tops of my running shoes from this as well.
My other thought is you may be pointing your toes down when you ride. People with tight calf muscles tend to do this and I could imagine that might also be a cause.
I might start with something simple like doing stretching and mobility of the calf and foot and see if that helps.