Need help with foot numbness!!!


New Member
Apr 9, 2019
Hey guys!!! And gals!!! New here. Started riding last year. My left foot is constantly going numb. After about 5-10 miles I start getting pins and needles. Switched to clipless pedals just now, rode a 10 mile short ride today and got it still. I was riding on flats last year, and it didn’t always happen. But more often than not. Loving the new pedals, and honestly my new shoes are probably a little snug, but got the same thing. They’re not SUPER snug, but they’re a little tighter than maybe they should be. The shoes I was using last year are my lawn mowing shoes and they fit very comfortably. I know I should get a fit done, but wifey isn’t too happy with my cycling budget already. the shoes feel great, my right foot is always fine. It’s always my left foot. Any tips? Preferably that don’t cost much? Sure these questions have all been asked, and pleasure to meet you all. Thanks for any help. Planning on a century this summer, so really hoping to fix this by then. Long winded as ****... SORRY!
Some people have reported success with using a ”pelotte”, a small, thin cushion on the insole, under the pad of the foot. They’re supposed to alleviate numbness by encouraging the foot to spreading sideways.
What kinda-sorta works for me is to do some exagerrated ankling for awhile. What definitely works is to get off an walk for a minute.
Sometimes, doing some calf stretches while stopped at an intersection will be enough.
Some people have reported success with using a ”pelotte”, a small, thin cushion on the insole, under the pad of the foot. They’re supposed to alleviate numbness by encouraging the foot to spreading sideways.
What kinda-sorta works for me is to do some exagerrated ankling for awhile. What definitely works is to get off an walk for a minute.
Sometimes, doing some calf stretches while stopped at an intersection will be enokugh.

Thank you. I’ll look that “pelotte” up. Stopping and walking doesn’t sound like much fun. Lol. How tight should my shoes be? I got em on sale, cause my wife gets a little upset with my cycling budget. They were my size, and the guy in the bike shop wasn’t a whole lot of help, but I’m concerned I should’ve gone up a half a size. I can wiggle my toes, but there’s not much room from the toe to the tip of the shoe. And I’m actually glad I got it before with my other shoes, since that kinda points me toward an issue that doesn’t involve me needing new shoes. Thanks for the response!!!
I’m toying with the idea that I’m tightening my shoes too much. But the fact that it’s only on my left foot has me a little less convinced. Maybe my left leg is shorter? Or longer?. Sorry. I’m really new to all of this, and especially with the clipless pedals. I have about a half of my thumb from tip of big toe to tip of shoe. The are snug, but not CRAZY tight. They feel comfortable. Again... sorry... I’m sure all of this has been covered a million times. And I know I need to get a proper fitting. But when I came home with 150 bucks worth of pedals and shoes, the wife wasn’t the happiest. So a fitting is out of the question for a few months. And it’s the start of the season in Indiana. Lol.
You didn't specify what shoes you have or the shape of your feet (narrow, normal, wide, high/low arch, etc.) which would be helpful.

As long as your toes are not pressing against the front of the shoes, the length is probably fine. Depending on the shape of your feet, the width may be an issue. Shoes that are too narrow tend to cause hot spots and possibly numbness.

If your shoes have multiple closures, tighten the instep closure but leave the toe closure loose so your toes can spread out. Another option is to try different footbeds or modify those that came with the shoes. I would try adding some metatarsal arch support if the footbeds don't have any. This doesn't need to be anything specific and I often use pieces of handlebar tape to make pads that I stick to the underside of the footbeds with double-sided tape. This makes it easy and inexpensive to experiment.

Numbness could be caused by a leg length discrepancy and/or improper saddle height. Good starting points are:

Simple measurement - Put your heels on the pedals and backpedal the bike slowly. Your legs should be straight at the bottom of the stroke, but your hips should not rock side-to-side on the saddle.

More precise measurement - Measure your inseam from your sit bones to the floor in bare feet. The easiest way to do this is to stand against a wall and put a thick book between your legs, up against your sit bones and square to the wall. Have someone measure from the top of the book to the floor. Multiply the measurement by .883. This is your saddle height measured from the top of the saddle (running parallel to the seatpost) to the center of the bottom bracket spindle.

You could also have someone take a look at your position on the bike. A bike fitter would be best, but that can be expensive. It's worth the cost from a riding perspective, but not if it's going to cause a fight at home. A cycling coach or a knowledgeable rider or bike shop employee may be a good source of free assistance.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Lenkearney
I would check the cleat position. Rule of thumb is to have the pedal spindle under the ball of your foot.

Also, don't tighten the left shoe quite so much and see if that makes a difference. And the earlier advice about putting your heels on the pedal for seat height is excellent - that's what I do.
I've actually found that positioning the cleats 4-6mm behind the balls of my feet is a more stable position and is more comfortable. This seems to be a pretty common trend in bike fitting. Of course "your mileage may vary".
Numbness in feet can be caused by having the shoes to tightly laced, try that first because it's cheap to do.

Second cheapest thing to do is to adjust your cleat position, if you bought your shoes at your LBS they can do this for you and should do it for free, my LBS does. They will usually align it with the ball of your foot and for some people that can cause numbness, before moving the cleats mark their position so you can return to that spot if necessary, so try moving the cleat back toward the heel in small increments and test each time you move it, and stop moving it after you found your happy spot; if after moving it a bunch of times and you still have the issue then move the cleat back to the position I had you mark, then go to the below step.

Your shoes could be the wrong size, usually too narrow which most Americans have wider feet than their European counterparts which is what most shoes cycling are made for, but there are wider shoes on the market nowadays. I always suggest you go to an LBS to buy shoes and not over the internet, at least for the first time. The LBS will have ways to measure your feet to get the correct fitting shoe. Shimano, Bontrager, Sidi, Specialized and Giro are usually found at most LBS's and all of those have wide foot models; there are a couple of other brands too like Lake, Northwave and Bont, but those are very difficult to find at most LBS's. There is a lot to consider when getting the right fitting shoe, toe box room, foot width, and heal width, and different shoe manufactures will make that stuff all different which is why it's important to go to an LBS for a shoe. PLEASE, don't go to a LBS and they find a shoe for you and you walk out not buying it because you're going to go online and buy it cheaper, if the sales person spent all that time with you to find the right shoe BUY IT from them, the salesperson usually gets a commission or a bonus for selling, so don't waste their time and money when they could have gotten a sale from another customer by not buying it. I understand if they don't have something you like, fine, go to another LBS and see what they have. I'm not a hardnose buy it at an LBS guy to save the earth by keeping LBS's in business, but if I go into a bike shop and I ask them for help on a product I will buy it from them, but if I know what I want and I can get it cheaper (including shipping and taxes) then I will buy it online. Anyway, you could be having a shoe issue.
As an alternative to an LBS, some companies like Lake have extensive fitting information on their website. The process is pretty simple:
  1. Follow their instructions for tracing your foot outlines.
  2. Take accurate measurements from the tracings.
  3. Compare those measurements to the size charts. Note that they have several different lasts that vary in width both at the toe and the heel.
If you take the time to do this right, you can get a good fit sight unseen. I tried it and the Lake charts were spot on. However, I tried it a few years ago with Bont shoes and the results weren't good. Perhaps that has changed, but I don't know.

That said, I'm not trying to convince anyone that they shouldn't go to an LBS and "showrooming" as described in the post above is a pretty rotten thing to do to a good LBS.
What shoes do you usually wear? Have you tried switching to wider footwear? I used to ride my bike in regular shoes or trainers because road cycling shoes with cleats on the outside of the sole are challenging to walk in. Therefore, I prefer to buy special footbeds rather than SPD shoes, as they're so damn expensive. Still, for wintertime, I ordered a pair of wedge sole boots from, and they're the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. They're not constricting your feet and are pretty wide because I wear them with Bama socks and my feet are fine. Anyways, you should take a look at them.
I had a familiar problem. My leg was numb even when I was just walking. Usually it was sudden seizures and something like that.
As for the budget for shoes, in my opinion, it is better to buy one pair of good shoes. For sports, the air jordan 1 low was perfect for me.