Spinning and outdoor bicycling are both great forms of exercise. Many people hit the pedals hoping to place less pressure on their knees than with sports like running. But, while the knees are less vulnerable to injury on a bike, your feet and ankles can take some pretty hard hits while cycling. Check out these three common problems to watch out for, along with some quick and easy ways to resolve your cycling-related foot pain!
Top 3 Cycling-Related Foot Injuries
1. Hot Feet. This common cycling complaint isn’t about wearing socks and sneaks that are too warm. Rather, it describes a sensation of burning, tingling or numbness in your feet at any point during a ride. There are several potential causes for this problem, but the most likely culprit is that the fit or placement of your cycling shoes are pressing down on your nerve, causing this discomfort or loss of sensation.
Our Fix: Check out the positioning of your shoes or cleats with a cycling specialist. If everything looks ok, bring the shoes into our Elmhurst podiatry practice. We can examine you for fit issues, and also determine whether a custom orthotic device could reduce pressure on your nerve, allowing you to pedal comfortably.
2. Achilles Tendinitis. This is an overuse injury that occurs when there is inflammation to the tendon at the back of your heel. It results in pain, often strong enough to be debilitating. The Achilles tendon can become irritated when repetitive forces pull at its tissue; when you cycle, several issues can cause this kind of pulling. A seat or saddle that is positioned too high makes you point your toes, putting your shoes in less-than-optimal positions for pedaling, and leaving your tendon to pick up too much of the slack. This increased pressure on your tendon then results in inflammation and pain.
The Fix: Choose shoes with rigid soles that will provide enough support to keep your feet in the correct position when you pedal. You should also be very careful about adjusting your seat height. Not sure how to find the right height? Here’s the test: pedal until your leg is at the bottom of its cycle; if your knee is still slightly bent, you’re in the right position. If your leg is completely straight, you need to lower the seat.
Also, before you resume cycling, you should see your doctor to resolve the pain and inflammation associated with this condition. If you don’t rest and treat your tendinitis, the problem will only get worse.
3. Blisters and Fungi of the Foot and Nail. Unlike hot feet, this is a problem caused when feet become overheated and start to sweat. The sweat can lead to rubbing between your socks, shoes and feet, leaving you with painful blisters. And, especially with long rides, that warm, moist environment can become the perfect breeding ground for fungal infections like Athlete’s foot.
The Fix: First of all, you should set yourself up for success by choosing snug-fitting, moisture wicking socks. Then, make sure that shoes are also not too roomy, leaving your foot to slide around and rub. Finally, applying an anti-fungal foot spray or powder to both your socks and your shoes will help absorb the extra moisture while also killing existing germs. And, if your feet are really, really sweaty, you may consider applying antiperspirant directly to your feet!