The Chainlink

Hi all,

Around mile 65 of the Apple Cider Century, I noticed a pain around the inner side of my foot, near the arch, top of the ankle bone.  At the last rest stop I stopped at, I took my shoes off and walked around.  I didn't (and don't) have any pain walking.  Or standing.  Or doing anything that does not involve pedaling.  And honestly, after that rest stop, the pain was about 1/3 of where it was when it started.  I took two days off the bike after that century (no pain) and went to a spin class last night where I noticed the pain was back - not as bad as it was on the century ride, but still noticeable.

Anyone have any idea what this could be?  I wear Specialized S-Works Road Shoes, so I don't think stiffness is an issue.  I'm a little baffled that this pain is only present when pedaling, when there's little to no impact on the foot.  Maybe it's a tendon thing?  Last night, I thought maybe it was the pull-up of the pedal stroke that was causing it.

I'm going to a chiropractor today and hoping that maybe he can help too, but any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


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Could it just be a cramp? I get painful foot cramps from time-to-time if I don't hydrate enough. Were you drinking plenty of fluids on your ride?

I had much the situation as you describe: excruciating pain at 65 miles.  This problem came up at 65 miles, many 50 mile rides never presented.I was using SPDs and Lake MTB 165 size 46WThe shoes were fairly well-used, 3 years. I have a high arch and wide feet. The pain was across the arch of the toes: the transverse arch across the base of the toe-joints. It killed a century I was working toward. The problem as I perceived was a) a very small platform at the cleat and a somewhat flexible, not rigid, sole, b) screws/bolts coming up from the cleat into the sole of the shoe. Foot pads which come with the shoe I guess were considered adequate to cushion the hardware at the sole. Not so in my case. I addressed this by switching to large platform cleats such as Look or Speedplay and tossing the Lakes for Sidi genius with truly rigid soles. I rejected some Bontrager shoes at a price similar to the Sidis but the hardware here protruded as with the Lakes. I will miss being able to walk like a human as I could with Lake/SPD but welcome riding like a cyclist too. 

As someone who does bike fitting in the summer and ski boot fitting in the winter, I could probably write a book full of POSSIBLE answers to this one....  But realistically, the only way to know what would work for you would be to see the foot, shoe, bike, and person in question all in the same place at the same time....  The issue could be related to bike fit (saddle height, saddle fore/aft, cleat position, frame size)....  Foot/shoe issues....  Cleat style....  My suggestion would be to find a good LBS that does bike fitting and can do a shoe/pedal/cleat analysis....  Taking the whole picture into consideration should lead to a good solution....  And, if it is foot related (even in part) an actual orthotic made by a doctor might be a part of the solution....  Good luck....

Larry is right on that there is no substitute for a real-time assessment/interview.

But my gut feeling is that Bruce is on the right track, with too much of the road shock being translated into too small an area on the foot.  Different people have different levels of peripheral nerve health (depending on various factors that an interview would reveal) and what may show up as numbness and tingling in one person can show up as burning pain in another.

I'm going to bet that it's the right foot.

Would be interested in what the chiro had to say.

I still think that a professional podiatrist would be the cheaper alternative to a bike fitter in the end -those guys are more expensive than specialist foot doctors. 

Thanks to everyone for their input.  I really appreciate everyone's thoughts.  After meeting with the chiropractor, it was determined that it was a strain.  There was some minor swelling at the top of the foot, near the ankle bone on the inside of the foot, and sort of spread to the bottom of the calf.  He did some work on it, including some soft tissue massaging, and the next morning I took a spin class, pain free.  I went out for a ride this afternoon (after having done the spin class this morning) and noticed the pain was back immediately.  

The verdict?  It's my shoe.  It's basically digging into that bone.  I was wearing tall wool socks and I folded them down a few times to create some padding.  When I put the shoe back on and tightened it, the pain was gone immediately.

Now, my new dilemma is how can I fix this, long-term?  These shoes were $400.  I'm feeling fairly jaded.  However, this pain occurred suddenly, which is also perplexing.  I had ridden the entire summer with them, and this was a new pain.  So, for now, I can manage it by folding my socks over a few times to create some padding, but I'm not sure how to fix it long-term.

Small victories, I suppose!

Maybe try to sell or return the shoes to recoup some of the costs? Just because your foot geometry was not right for this shoe doesn't mean someone else's will be.

Dana said:

These shoes were $400.  I'm feeling fairly jaded.  However, this pain occurred suddenly, which is also perplexing.  I had ridden the entire summer with them, and this was a new pain.  So, for now, I can manage it by folding my socks over a few times to create some padding, but I'm not sure how to fix it long-term.

Small victories, I suppose!

If you are stuck with the shoes (or really want to keep them and make them work) you could try putting some moleskin in the area where you folded the socks over....  Or possibly stretching the shoe in that area to relieve some of the pressure....  (A little harder to do with a bike shoe than a ski boot since it's not plastic....)  Just wondering....  Are you using the same shoes for spin????  If so, then I'm thinking the problem is in the bike....  Also, if it felt better after the visit and was fine in spin, maybe by the time you got the pain on the bike, you were overdoing it....  Maybe you need to rest it pain free for a bit before you get back and put pressure on it....

Actually, I just looked back up....  You said SPD yellow....  I'm guessing that is the triangle SPD-SL road cleat with 6 degrees of float....  And a spin bike would use a traditional SPD (mountain bike) cleat which would not fit that shoe....  So you most likely did not use the same shoe for spin....

Also....  Are the wool socks thicker than what you rode in all summer????  A thicker sock might be adding more pressure....  We see that a lot in the ski shop....  When a boot is fit properly in a light or medium weight ski sock and the customer goes to a thicker sock (or two pairs) in colder weather it can create a whole host of new problems....  Also, more sock material can restrict blood flow over the top of the foot, actually making the foot colder....

Sorry for the multiple posts....  Sick....  Busy day at work....  Then hung out with some friends....  About to take some wicked prescription cough stuff with codeine in it and a few Benedryl and get some sleep....  Just trying to wrap my tired brain around the previous posts....  Somewhat scattered tonight....  (Scattered....  A word that was used several times today and tonight to describe one of the friends I was hanging out with....  LOL)


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