Question: For several months I’ve been plagued with “hot feet,” pain in the balls of my feet starting after several thousand-mile months this summer. Maybe that’s too much mileage for a 65-year-old, but I’ve never experienced it before.
I’ve changed pedals, put cushioned insoles in my shoes, moved the cleats as far to the rear as possible, and changed sock thickness. I would like to do ride across the country next summer, but not with this pain. Is there anything else I could try? — Dick T.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: You’re putting in lots of miles, and that always takes a toll on feet. Hot foot is caused by compression of the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the forefoot.
Moving the cleats back was a good first step. The cushioned insoles may be thicker than the insoles you were using before. If so, they take up more room in your shoes, in effect making them tighter. The same goes if you wear thicker socks for more padding. There could be more nerve compression and pain.
I had a bad case of hot foot on a transcontinental PAC Tour, which covered 3,400 miles in 24 days. When I returned, I went to Andy Pruitt at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. He made custom cycling orthotics with a small bump in the forefoot to spread the metatarsal bones and relieve pressure on the nerves. This worked great. I haven’t had a recurrence.
Specialized Body Geometry cycling shoes were designed by Andy with a similar metatarsal bump on the insole. You can buy stick-on bumps in the foot care section of drugstores. They would be a place to start.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.