Difficulty pedaling? Tips for treating common foot, ankle issues for cyclists

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Before cyclists pump those pedals, Podiatrist Dr. Vanessa Barrow offers solutions to 3 common foot and ankle issues while riding bikes.

  1. Problem: Hot Feet

The most common complaint among avid cyclists.

What: Burning, tingling and numbness to the feet.

Why: Can be caused by compression of the nerves in the foot in ill-fitting shoes or poor cleat position.

  • Solution: Have your cycling shoes inspected by a podiatrist. You may need special padding or inserts that help relieve pressure. Have your cleat placement checked by a cycling specialist to make sure that isn’t the culprit.

2. Problem: Achilles Tendonitis

What: Inflammation/Pain of the tendon at the back of the heel

Why: Seat/Saddle too high causing toes to remain pointed, cleats positioned too far forward, or toes pointed downward/pushing through the ball of the foot during pedaling causing too much tension on the tendon.

  • Solution: Rigid-soled shoes provide support to correct foot position during pedaling. Have your seat height, cleat placement, and stroke technique checked by a professional. Make an appointment with your foot and ankle specialist to evaluate the severity of your tendonitis to decide what treatment and therapy may be best for you.

3. Problem: Blisters, Athlete’s Foot and Fungal Nails

What: Excessive friction and moisture

Why: Sweating and ill-fitting socks or shoes can lead to blisters and fungal infections of the skin and nails.

  • Solution: Anti-fungal foot spray or powder applied inside the socks and shoes can help absorb excessive moisture as well as antiperspirant applied to the bottom of the feet. Wearing socks that wick moisture can help as well. Anti-chafing lubricants can help reduce friction in areas prone to blistering. Proper shoe fit can help decrease trauma to the nails which can lead to fungus.
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