Any ideas what is causing foot/sitbones numbness?

Aug 27, 2012
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London, UK
www.macrophotofly.com
#1
So I've got back into cycling since being in Tokyo and enjoying rides around 50-70km at the moment, but longer than that is being held back by a problem. After 90mins in the saddle I start to get numbness in the front of my left foot preceded by some numbness around my sitbones (note undercarriage has no problems). The right foot numbness kicks in later, but never as bad. I've assumed thus far it is a seat problem (due to sitbones going numb first) and worked my way through 3 seats in the last month (an old fizik, fizik arione Cx and a Selle Italian Max Flight), trying to vary style and width. Rough measurement suggests my sitbones are about 10-11cm.

I'm on a cross bike but have the flat bar reasonably low and the seat higher than it, so a fair amount of the weight is going forward. When I dropped the handlebars a bit it helped but not removed.

Any thoughts or ideas gratefully received as I'm not sure what to do next!?!
 

trad

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Dec 4, 2006
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Tokyo
#2
RE your foot, I'd think that the nerves around your metatarsals are getting pinched as the foot swells on a long ride. I get hot feet related pain - particularly on a long rides on warm humid days. If this is the case, quick soliution would be to "loosen tension" around toe box. I know many peopel use foot beds with metatarsal button (like specialized). On sit bones - I'd thik this is more conditioning and/or poorly fitting saddle...
 

Aron B

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Mar 24, 2012
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#4
I had (have) a similar problem when I competed in rowing. A numbness (or pins and needles) would creep up from my feet all the way through the legs. At one point I could almost set a clock to when this would kick in.

This is a symptom of pinching off either arteries or nerves.

Consulted several physicians, who all said something like a wrong position of the pelvis. One suggested stretching the piriformis, hamstrings may come into play as well. In the end, it didn't really get resolved.

In think stretching those muscles and the lower back could help. Sitting up more or less upright (saddle height and handlebar height & each) is another one.
 
Aug 27, 2012
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London, UK
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#5
@trad - thanks for the thoughts - know that pinching from my cross country running days (loose shoes shortly equal no shoes ...in the mud, so you do them up tight) but the numbness is middle and through the toes even on the recent colder days

@Aron - I haven't got the numbness up the leg but your suggestion makes a lot of sense. Wondering if the pelvis isn't rolling forward enough due to bike/seat fitting or less flexibility of a slightly older me!
Not sure I want to be sitting upwards more though. Isn't that bad posture for cycling?
 

kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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#6
Wondering if the pelvis isn't rolling forward enough due to bike/seat fitting or less flexibility of a slightly older me!
Not sure I want to be sitting upwards more though. Isn't that bad posture for cycling?
Your last sentence: no, the best posture is the one that lets you perform best. Yes an extreme drop is what you'll see most racers using to get "aero" but they typically are young exceptional athletes. Not sure your age but if you are like me (mid 40s) you might have strong legs and a weak midriff, obviously if you middle is weak then other parts have to pick up the load and it might be your butt in this case. Other places to pick up the slack are backs and shoulders to arms: If it were me, I would raise the bar and get an old well worn brooks or the like and then wet the leather good and proper and then go ride the thing to let the wet fibers in the leather move to accommodate your . Sure the saddle will rot away in a year or two but you'll have a comfy saddle.

Loosen up the shoes to let the swelling have some where to go as your heart pumps more blood to the parts that are moving.

Don't forget to do some core exercises gradually over time to strengthen up the spare tire.

Good luck.

How long have you been riding and whats your weekly mileage like?
 
Aug 27, 2012
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London, UK
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#7
It's been mainly rugby and running until i got too old for rugby and then running with cycling to work in London (a massive12km each way). I got to Japan in Jan and started to increase my rides 4 months ago after i discovered TCC and Half Fast. Now cycling 40-55km on a Saturday and then again on a Sunday. I'm 39 and weigh about 75kg
I've always had strong legs but weaker upper body
 

kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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Japan
#8
It's been mainly rugby and running until i got too old for rugby and then running with cycling to work in London (a massive12km each way). I got to Japan in Jan and started to increase my rides 4 months ago after i discovered TCC and Half Fast. Now cycling 40-55km on a Saturday and then again on a Sunday. I'm 39 and weigh about 75kg
I've always had strong legs but weaker upper body
Rugby here too, typical strong legs and rear but weak abs. Try working on the bar position and such. I don't think changing just the saddle will do it for you, is your saddle height okay? It might be too high.
Your bike is fairly new right? Might want to get someone that knows what they are doing to eyeball you on the thing and suggest some changes. You mentioned you had dropped the front bar, were you getting numb before the change? How does you new position compare to your old bike which I assume you had no trouble with?
So many variables, so get a real life experienced person to help you face to face and I'm sure you'll work it out.
 
Dec 31, 2009
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Matsumoto
#11
Fit

Have you been fit? You could punch around in the dark for ever, but if want to continue to ride a bicycle for years to come and do so pain free I highly recommend you visit a professional and get this sorted. These are not insignificant problems and could lead to re occurring long term problems. Our bodies are not designed for the repetitive circular motions of riding a bicycle. They are more suited for walking. Like you have mentioned, it could be weight distribution, or it may be cleat position, or maybe your clothing doesn't fit. I can help you, but I am in Nagano. I fit using slow motion video capture and lasers and proprioceptive feedback along with flexibility tests. If you cant make it to Nagano, go to a trusted local LBS. Either way, don't walk on nails any longer. Go to a professional. If you can spend money on a pair of shoes or a set of tires, why would you skimp on the most important aspect of your riding experience? This is so much larger than so many make it out to be. Take anyone's advice with a grain of salt until you get your self looked at by a professional. Everyone is different. I have fit hundreds of people and I will tell you something. Not one of them was the same. If you are riding the distances you have mentioned you need to be fit. Period. You aren't riding to the corner store for some milk. You are spending 2 or more hours doing the same repetitive motion your body was not designed for. Trust me on this.
 

stanc

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#13
(snip) I can help you, but I am in Nagano. I fit using slow motion video capture and lasers and proprioceptive feedback along with flexibility tests. If you cant make it to Nagano, go to a trusted local LBS. (snip)Take anyone's advice with a grain of salt until you get your self looked at by a professional.
I had similar problems when I started & they didnt really go away until I got myself properly measured. Sounds like an excuse to take a trip to Nagano :)
 
Aug 27, 2012
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London, UK
www.macrophotofly.com
#16
@Kiwisimon - Many thanks for all the thoughts and suggestions - v. helpful
Don't forget to do some core exercises gradually over time to strengthen up the spare tire.
Not much spare tire now but core strength seems like a good idea. Maybe back to the dreaded row ergo...

@ Joe - I'm careful not to tighten my shoes too much as that causes a different type of numbness that I can relieve quickly by loosening the shoes
first thing that came to mind was: How tight are your shoes?
I like my shoes wide, not too tight around the front, especially in the winter.
I do have a wide foot thats not very high at the front (so often have "space" above it in the shoe but not to the sides). I have another pair of wide shoes (from when I used to do spin classes in London) I can use this weekend and will also move the cleats backwards to see if it makes any difference

@RacePro - I agree a proper fit is the right next step for me and very worthwhile. However getting to Nagano is not going to be possible for a month or two due to work. Hoping somebody can suggest something similar in Tokyo, but if nothing appears I'll plan to take a day off and PM you in a couple of weeks to book an appointment

One final thought enters my head; I'm always the first to complain of discomfort sitting on a solid wood bench or hard chair at a restaurant and my wife says I've got a bony a*** so maybe I just need to strap a nice comfy cushion to the bike.....:eek:
 
Dec 31, 2009
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Matsumoto
#18
Let me know if you would like to come out. I am free on weekends or weekdays before 1 PM I can pick you up from Chino station. You could also take single rest stop highway bus out. I also have a spare room for guests you are welcome to if you would like to stay and travel home the next morning. I can travel to Tokyo as well, I do, however charge a 3000 yen fee for that. If you can find a friend who also needs a fit, no travel charge and a 10% discount off of both fits. The cost of the fit is 20000 yen for TCC members. It takes 3 to 4 hours.
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#19
Guys, I can vouch for Chuck (Pro Race Mechanic) he's worked with Garmin Slipstream, Rapha and it looks like he will be working for the Pro's as a fitter and wrench at the UCI Tokyo Cyclocross for big names such as Jeremy Powers and the likes.

I've hired him for his services and also advice regarding fittings and I would recommend him over anyone else out there.
 

TimeTraveler

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Feb 6, 2012
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Koto-ku, Tokyo
#20
Guys, I can vouch for Chuck (Pro Race Mechanic)

I've hired him for his services and also advice regarding fittings and I would recommend him over anyone else out there.
I second what FarEast said. I used to get back pain on rides as short as 30k, but Chuck sorted me out. macrophotofly, I highly recommend that you get fit by Chuck.