Why do I experience numbness in my feet while I am cycling? I am frequently asked this question by the portion of patients in my practice that are avid cyclists, especially those pursuing and involved in long distance/endurance training or racing be it road cyclists or triathletes. I will answer this question from the different perspectives of underlying medical causes, biomechanical contributions, and both podiatric and holistic viewpoints. Some of the most common underlying western medical causes for numbness in the feet would include diabetic neuropathy, poor circulation due to peripheral vascular disease(i.e., disease of the blood vessels in your leg), restless leg syndrome, or history of nerve damage due to trauma(i.e., leg/foot injury in auto accident). Succesful elimination of numbness due to these causes would involve seeing a physician for evaluation and treatment for improved control or management of the underlying medical disease. Once done, numbness due to these causes should resolve. Specific foot problems such as neuromas(nerve tumors), bony deformities of the foot such as bunions, arthitic conditions especially affecting the foot, high or low arch problems are also common culprits causing numbness. Identification and treatment of these conditions are best managed by the podiatric physician. Once foot structure abnormalities can be identified by the podiatric physician, recommendations can be made in regards treatment intervention and to the proper fitting of the cycling shoe including brand name, sizing, weight, closure mechanisms(i.e. buckle vs. strap vs. boa systems) and insert or orthotic requirements if necessary. From a holistic viewpoint such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, numbness of the feet is most likely due to either an improper flow or blockage of qi(energy) and blood. If swelling is experienced in the foot than dampness is considered to be an involved factor. This can be easily corrected with the use of acupuncture and or homeopathic/chinese herbal remedies. Other miscellaneous causes of foot numbness may include; cleats not properly positioned on the cycling shoes, failure to make adjustment in slight change in foot size if cycling in hot weather or afternoon hours, improper seat position being either too low, high, seat to far foward or back, and improper climbing or sprinting technique that may put undue pressure on sole of foot leading to compression of sensitive nerve endings and numbness. At the Florida Institute of Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine we can evaluate, treat and eliminate your numbness using both podiatric and tradtional chinese medical methodolgy and provide the cyclist a with proper evaluation and fitting of your cycling footwear to ensure that you will be able to train, race, and participate in miles of "numb-free" cycling.
Numbness in Feet During Cycling