Question: I had a back operation but my physician says riding is fine. But after 20 miles my left foot goes numb. If I get off the bike for a few minutes, the numbness goes away but quickly returns. Strangely, if I’m climbing it doesn’t seem to bother me as much. What gives? — Byron M.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: It’s unusual that your foot goes numb on the flats rather than on hills when you’re putting more pressure on the pedals. Here are three ideas based on my riding and coaching experience.
- It may be that your numb foot has nothing to do with your back and is simply a case of “hot foot” from a shoe that’s too tight, compressing the nerves between your metatarsal bones. Try a wider shoe, thinner insoles and socks, or an insole with a “metatarsal bump” under the forefoot to spread the bones and relieve pressure on the nerves.
- Depending on how your shoes fasten, try keeping the area nearest the toes fairly loose, with the middle portion of your shoe somewhat tighter, and the area at the top of the shoe as tight as you would like.
- Standing on hills may be relieving either the nerve compression in your foot or causing your back to adopt a more comfortable position. Try standing periodically on flat roads to see what happens.