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Hot Foot: Is that steam coming off my toes?

It’s a sunny day, perfect for exploring the countryside by bike. You’re enjoying the ride, the fresh air, the scenery. But after cruising for couple of hours, the joy and exhilaration you felt when you started the ride is slowly replaced by an unrelenting burning sensation coming from your feet. With each kilometer the heat gets turned up a notch until. . . “Yikes! Is that steam coming off my toes?”

You make a quick pit stop, tear off your shoes and socks. . .

“Ah . . . much better”. . . you think as you pour water over your feet . . . “must just be the hot weather”. Temporarily relieved, you jump back on the saddle. But a short time later your feet are screaming again.

What’s the problem? Unfortunately, you’ve got a malady known in the cycling world as “hot foot”.

What Causes Hot Foot

Hot foot is a common ailment on long rides. The burning sensation is made worse by hot weather, which makes the feet swell, but the real cause of hot foot is the pressure on the nerves between the metatarsals (the small bones under the ball of the foot). If you have high arches, or if you overpronate, you’re probably putting additional pressure on the ball of the foot, which makes you more susceptible to this malady.

Common causes:

  • Tight shoes – Shoes that fit well in the store may be too tight on long rides when your feet swell in hot weather.
  • Small pedals – Small pedals focus pressure on the ball of your feet rather than spreading it the way larger pedals do.
  • Long rides – Road vibration increases pressure on your feet.
  • Too much climbing – climbing hills concentrates more weight on your feet.

Quick Fixes For Hot Foot

1. Loosen the straps on your shoes. Start with the strap nearest your toes.

2. Change your socks. Experiment with thinner socks. This will provide more room in your shoe if your feet swell on longer rides and in hot weather.

3. Swap insoles. Try replacing your insoles with sport insoles. Heat moldable footbed technology has made custom slim sports insoles affordable. www.yoursole.com

4. Add foam pads. Foam domes called metatarsal buttons (found in drug stores) can be placed on the insoles of your cycling shoes just behind the ball of the foot. This spreads the bones of the foot and reduces pressure on the nerves.

5. Move your cleats. Some riders find relief by moving their cleats backward. This alters the position of your foot on the pedal. If you do this you may also need to make minor changes to your saddle position.

6. Look for a different pedal. One that will spread the pressure over more of your foot.

7. Buy new cycling shoes. Shop for shoes that have a contoured footbed, a stiff sole and a wider, higher toe box.

Laurel-Lea Shannon

© 2008 Laurel-Lea Shannon

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