Hot Spot Cure

You might recall that several weeks ago I complained about the hot spot I get on the bottom of my left foot after riding for about 30 miles. It really makes longer rides unpleasant, and since I like to do longer rides, it’s a real bummer.

I dug up an old article that said the hot spot is actually caused by a neuroma — a swelling of the nerve between toes. There was even a way to deal with it — things called matatarsal buttons.

Maybe I’m a lousy shopper, but I never found any. (Not that I tried all that hard.) It occurred to me, however, that I could come up with a treatment of my own. So I did.

Ta da! A cotton ball torn in half. I stick half between my two outside toes. It seemed like a stopgap treatment at the time. But it works!

Now, any time I plan to be on the bike for more than an hour, I make sure to rip apart a cotton ball, and stick half between my toes.

I admit, I haven’t really put it to the test on a long ride yet. I have done 36 miles however, and I never had a complaint from the foot. Anecdotally, it works for me.

As usual, it turns out to be a simple solution. I’m irked that when I was last bothered by foot problems — a numb little toe — I spun my wheels trying all sorts of remedies. I even slashed my old biking shoes. Nothing worked.

It’s counterintuitive to think that spreading out your foot will ease a problem that seems to be caused by too-tight shoes. But that’s what it did.

Let me know if you have had foot or toe problems, and have come up with your own solution.

Numb toe update — the new shoes worked

Long-time readers will remember about a year ago I used to regularly carp about a problem with my feet. Specifically, my left foot. More specifically, the little toe on my left foot. It would go numb after riding much more than an hour, and bother me for the rest of my ride.

I tried a number of ways to deal with it, including fastening my shoe straps as loose as possible, adding arches of various sizes and shapes, and even cutting a gash along the side of the shoe. Nothing worked.

I finally concluded the problem was not with my foot, but with the shoe. They were cheap Chinese-made shoes that I bought when I first took up biking. Fine for rides of an hour or less, I just couldn’t keep wearing them on the distances I wanted to ride.

My wife came to rescue, when she bought me some new shoes for Christmas. They’re by Specialized, and are one of their premium models with a rock-hard carbon sole. I exchanged them for a larger size, figuring that since feet swell with exercise, a larger shoe would minimize the toe numbness.

Well, after nine months of experience in the new shoes, I can report that they work. I haven’t had a numb toe since I first put them on.

Wouldn’t a larger pair of the old brand have done the same thing? I can’t say for sure, but I know those shoes don’t come with carbon soles — just nylon. So there’s going to be some flex in the sole, and that could lead to the same problem. More likely, it would lead to a hot spot on the foot. Either way, the old adage rings true once again: You get what you pay for. When it comes to my feet, I’ll pay the price to keep them comfortable.

Those new shoes are working out

It’s been a month now since getting my new cycling shoes, and they seem to be providing the relief my chronic numb toe needs. I can think of two reasons for the improvement: the shoes are a size larger than the ones I’d previously used, so there’s less squeezing of the foot when they swell with exercise, and they have a more adjustable strap system.

They use a rachet tightening strap at the top. I’ve been finding through trial and error that while it’s tempting to snug down that strap, it’s probably not the best idea. On a recent ride, the foot was bothering me when I stopped for a rest, and I found that the strap was just a little too tight. It seemed fine when I started out. Loosening it a couple of clicks did the trick.

I’ve concluded that the problem is with my left foot itself.  There must be something in its physiology that makes it a little different from the right foot.  It may be something that I have to live with.  However, it’s not giving me anywhere near the bother it used to with the old shoes, and for 90 percent of my riding, my foot is now fine.  So the shoes are working, and it looks like I won’t have to resort to any cockamamie solutions like slashing the mesh upper to ease the pressure on the foot.

My numb toe posts have gotten a lot of traffic over the past few months, continue to do so.  I don’t have any revelations that will help with the problem. For me, it turned out to be the shoes. So, I guess the only real advice I can give is: Don’t skimp. Buy one of the top name brands. Do your research. Road Bike Review is a good place to visit, and Performance Bike customers can leave reviews for each piece of equipment that outfit sells. Yes, they’re only anecdotal reviews, but taken as a whole, you can get a pretty good idea of what to expect.