Every cyclist knows what a hot foot is. It is a burning pain in the ball of the foot that radiates toward the toes. It hits every cyclist who loves long distance cycling or tough mountain rides. The pain is not caused by heat, but by the pressure on the nerves located between the five metatarsal bones. These nerves get squeezed on account of the furious pedal movements between the heads of these bones. Cyclists often pour water to quell the burning feeling, but this is not the right solution.
The question is what causes this problem? The answer is -- tight shoes, small pedals, and pressure. If you have large feet, the small pedal surfaces put pressure on the ball of the foot instead of spreading it. Cycling shoes with flexible soles are also unable to spread the pressure. The first step is to get larger pedals and stiff-soled shoes. Some cyclists are so troubled by this burning sensation that they use cortisone injections to alleviate pain. But that is an extreme step. There are better solutions than cortisone shots. These include:
-- Tightening the top strap of the cycling shoe around the ankles and loosening the strap near the toes. This gives your toes greater freedom to move inside the shoes. -- Using thinner insoles and/or socks: This gives your feet more room to move even when swelling may occur on account of continued pedaling.
-- Push the cleats as far back as possible. This brings a larger surface of the foot in contact with the pedals, and spreads the pressure.
-- Lower the saddle by the same amount as you moved the cleats backwards. The sitting position is most important because much depends on well your body is positioned to pump the pedals.
-- Place metatarsal buttons or foam domes on insoles just behind the ball of the foot. They spread the metatarsal bones so the nerves running between them are not strained by pressure or swelling.
-- If possible, get shoes that have stiff soles and metatarsal buttons. One model that meets these specifications is the Specialized BG. It has a wider-and-higher toe box, a stiffer sole and foot bed.
-- You can also consider buying custom orthotics. These plastic foot beds are available at podiatrists or sports medicine clinics, and have metatarsal buttons. This will also ease pressure on your toes.