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Why Do My Toes Go to Sleep When I Am Riding My Bike?

As with any sport that requires continuous, repetitive movements, cycling can cause discomfort or injury if any alignment or postural issue is present. A common complaint among cyclists, especially in the warmer months, is numb, tingly or "hot" feet. These sensations can be caused by nerve compression between the metatarsals, which is the result of road vibration, excessive foot compression, continuous climbing or riding in heavy gears. Numb or tingly feet can be very uncomfortable, especially on longer rides.

What You Can Do

Metatarsal nerve pressure can occur if your shoes are too small or adjusted too tightly, so make sure your feet have some room to breathe. In the summer, feet often swell, so you may need to loosen your closure slightly, use thinner socks or purchase a thinner insole to give your toes extra room. Alternatively, foot movement within a shoe that's too big or loose can also result in foot numbness. If this occurs, you may need to purchase a smaller shoe, replace your insole with a thicker one or switch to thicker socks. If the problem only occurs during climbs or when pushing a heavy gear, drop to a lower gear and increase your cadence. If the issue persists, see a bike fit specialist to have your cleat placement examined. Sometimes adjusting the fore/aft position of cleats by a couple millimeters can solve the problem.

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About the Author

Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.

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