Seattle is one of the best places to cycle in the country. Along with the famed Burke Gilman Trail, the area boasts multiple urban and regional trails as well as a great biking network for commuting. Whether you bike to work on a daily basis or use cycling for recreation and a great workout, there are many things to keep in mind to ensure your feet remain pain-free.
Cycling is a repetitive sport. During one hour of cycling a rider can average up to 5,000 pedal revolutions. Add that to tight or narrow shoes and that can be a prescription for foot pain.
Ball of Foot Pain
One of the most common foot conditions found in cyclists is metatarsalgia or "hot foot". Symptoms can include hot, painful, burning sensations and swelling and numbness. These symptoms can be particularly problematic in the summer when your feet are more likely to swell. If you're in the middle of a ride you'll need to stop, get off your bike, and let the swelling and heat subside.
Sesamoiditis can occur when the sesamoids or small bones found underneath the first metatarsals get inflamed or rupture from too much pressure from sports such as cycling.
Morton's neuroma is caused by an enlarged bundle of nerves to the 3rd and 4th toes. Although cycling is likely not the cause of this condition it can put extra pressure on that area of the foot, worsening an existing neuroma.
The Achilles tendon can become inflamed and irritated due to improper pedaling and seat height, but can also occur due to ramping up your training too quickly if you're a competitive rider. Flat feet and a tight calf muscle can also be the culprits behind this common condition.
Luckily there's a lot you can do to prevent these conditions.
- Purchase new shoes - your shoes are often one of the first things to consider changing when developing foot pain. If your feet have gotten larger (common in adults), your shoes are too tight and narrow, or if your shoes are worn out head to REI or another shoe store you trust.
- Types of shoes
- casual riders can purchase a cross-training shoe while more serious riders will benefit most from bicycle touring shoes (can still walk in these) or shoes with cleats.
- a stiffer shoe can help redistribute pressure over the metatarsal heads.
- a roomier toe box can help accommodate your feet when they swell to prevent ball of foot problems.
- Purchase inserts or over-the-counter orthotics with a metatarsal pad or button - these devices can lift the metatarsals to maintain their natural arch and prevent nerve pain and numbness.
- Custom orthotics made be necessary to alleviate and prevent sesamoiditis and Achilles tendonitis. Orthotics for cycling will need to be thinner to accommodate cycling shoes.
- Move your cleats back. Cleats that are too far forward can cause ball of foot pain.
- Wear thinner socks to make more room for your feet.
- Wear socks made of man-made materials to help wick away moisture from your feet. This will help prevent blisters.
If your foot pain is keeping you from cycling, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.
For more information about foot and ankle problems, download our eBook, "No More Foot Pain".
In addition, our newsletter "Foot Sense" comes out monthly. You can also check out our past issues. Every issue contains a mouth-watering recipe and can be printed out for easier reading!
Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.