Q: I wore thick wool socks all winter to keep my feet warm. Now I’ve found that my shoes have stretched and my feet flop around when I wear light summer socks. Can you recommend a cycling insole to take up the extra space so I don’t have to buy new shoes? — William S.
COACH FRED: It’s surprising that your old shoes stretched, unless they have leather uppers. Most road shoes nowadays are made of synthetic materials that stretch very little if at all.
Any insole (or two) you insert will help fill the excess space. The insole doesn’t have to be specific to cycling. You’ll find a variety of styles and thicknesses in running shoe stores or the foot care section of drugstores.
Custom-made cycling orthotics take up space, too, but they may cost about the same as a new pair of shoes. If you’re interested in better foot support as well as a snugger fit, get leads on economical orthotics by going to www.google.com and typing in “cycling orthotic.”
If your shoes are so stretched that your feet aren’t stable, be careful. Riding that way could lead to biomechanical injuries ranging from your ankles to your hips.
It sounds inevitable that you’ll need new shoes before long, so it might make sense to buy a quality pair with the long season still ahead.
When you do, don’t err in the other direction and get shoes on the snug side. That could cause painful “hot foot,” which results from pressure when your feet swell slightly on longer rides. Remember, uppers are unlikely to stretch despite your experience.