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Cycling hot foot: Why do the balls of my feet get hot when cycling?

Do the balls of your feet get hot when cycling, particularly on long rides and when climbing? You are probably suffering from 'hot foot' says Nik Cook. Here he explains what it is, and possible causes

Credit: Getty Images

This condition is commonly known as ‘Hot Foot.’ Even though it may feel like your feet are on fire, no heat is actually being produced. It’s caused when the tissues of the nerves and joints are continually squeezed by the long metatarsal bones. It typically occurs during long/hot rides and can become more intense with prolonged periods of climbing.

Above: Illustration showing the long metatarsal bones of the foot. Credit: Getty Images

There’s not an exact cause, but it could be a combination of several factors. Below, are three examples that may contribute to this unpleasant sensation:

Cycling shoes: Your shoes may fit correctly in length, but is the width of the shoe too tight? This could, unintentionally, be squeezing your metatarsals together.

Socks: Wear thin, cooling and fitted socks that have good ventilation. Too thick and the socks will absorb moisture, which keeps the foot hot and takes up space needed for your feet to expand.

Pedal stroke: An inefficient pedal stroke has been associated with symptoms of ‘Hot Foot.’ This is sometimes characterised as pedalling in squares. Aim for a smooth, oval-shape pedal stroke, to ensure your power is efficiently distributed.

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