I have mountain bike shoes and clipless pedals. When I go on long rides, my feet fall asleep and then very, very painfully wake up (on my most recent long ride, this started happening after 30ish miles and continued for the remaining 45 miles). What can I do to avoid/fix this problem?

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    I read that quick, and thought you meant "Fall asleep while riding" which I have actually done. I was really tired and riding home. Bad combo. don't do it.
    – geoffc
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 20:21
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    +1 for that, if only because you survived. ;)
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 20:23

9 Answers 9


I've been suffering from this recently now that I've upped my mileage to 40+ mile rides. My solution was 3 fold:

1) Starting the ride with my shoes quite loose. I have Shimano road / race shoes with 2 velcro straps and a ratchet strap across the top of my foot. I found that I was ratcheting the shoes down too tight.

2) Cleat position. Try experimenting with your cleats in different positions, I've found having my cleats at the rear most setting, allows some of the pressure to be taken off the balls of my feet.

3) Insoles - I've bought some decent insoles as I have quite a high instep, which means all the pressure gets put through the ball of my foot.

  • I finally got around to changing my cleat position before riding. I still need to play with it some, but I think it's helping. I'm definitely also considering getting some insoles. Thanks!
    – Rebekah
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 21:56

I often get tingling in my outside 2 toes during long road rides. I find periodically taking one foot off a pedal and stretching my leg out and flexing my ankle around really helps. Doesn't even require stopping.

If it becomes more severe, you may find stopping and doing some full stretching will help.

  • I do the same thing - when I'm riding on a river trail we have here, I try and kick the dandelions while I'm stretching - gives me something fun to do! Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 20:30
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    Heh, it became a bit more of a challenge when I started riding fixed-gear, but it still works!
    – Scott
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 20:36
  • Yeah, I need to remember to do this earlier--I did it several times during the latest long ride, but always after my feet fell asleep, so this just made the wake up pain start.
    – Rebekah
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 19:03

Correctly fitted shoes must be part of the solution.

However it is not good for our body’s to keep making the same constrained movement for a long time.

So you could try stopping every hour, and removing your shoes and then flexing your feet.

  • This is absolutely right about correctly fitted shoes. Possibly with the exception of competitive cyclists, cycling shoes should not cause pain and loss of circulation. I've noticed this most often with cyclists who buy shoes based on brand and style rather than fit. My riding partner had to ditch and replace a $200 pair of shoes just because they were too painful after about 25 miles. The key is to try on several pairs at the time of purchase.
    – user313
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 17:32

I ran into this issue a couple of seasons ago. It took a combination of three things to make my problem go away.

1) I wear custom-made orthotics for running and walking. I had new casts done and new orthotics made. (The type I use breaks down/wears out after a couple of years)

2) On the recommendation of my podiatrist I loosened the laces/straps on my cycling shoes. I try to keep them barely snug enough to prevent my foot from sliding around.

3) I lowered my saddle about 1/4". My saddle position was set by a fit kit at my LBS years ago. I never messed with it. But, you are supposed to used that initial fit and make small adjustments from there. The slightly lower saddle position also helped reduce the occurrence of sore knees.


It could be that you over-tighen the upper part of your foot.

  • Check the angle of your clips as well - it could be your foot is turned in or out too much. Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 20:29

I second the recommendation to visit your LBS for a fitting. Not only might they be able to help with shoe/cleat placement, but a fit in other areas such as seat height may help alleviate any nerve impingement that might be happening. If you ride a lot, this is pretty important to take care of. Hope it gets cleared up.


I had this exact problem for a while on my hybrid (which was at the time my only bike). It turned out not to be shoe/foot-related at all - it was the saddle. It was a wider "comfort" style saddle that came with the bike. When I bought a road bike, I found that I didn't have the same problem there, and I replaced the saddle on the hybrid with a narrower road bike saddle and never had the problem there again either. My guess is that somehow the way my legs were meeting the saddle was pinching a nerve or something.


Same - my shoes are too tight which is the root cause, but others have answered that.

Another factor is temperature - my shoes are built with a lot of mesh for cooling, which is great in summer.

However wet, cold, wintery rides make it quite unpleasant. I had one MTB ride where both feet were underwater, then an hours ride home in a cold southerly. The foot on the shaded side of the bike went numb and stayed numb for hours.

The fix for this is shoe covers, like an overshoe made out of neoprene or similar.


I've run into this issue recently, too. Luckily, I'm in the shoe business and have easy access to custom-made orthotics. I'd highly recommend visiting a local pedorthist who can fit your feet correctly in your cycling shoes to ensure proper blood flow to all areas of the foot.

If that's not an option for you, you might consider visiting your LBS for a good fitting on your bike. This should include proper cleat placement on your footwear.

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    Can you explain more about fitting feet into a shoe? Is a custom shoe involved, or are there things a pedorthist (that's a new word to me!) can do with your existing shoes? Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 21:45

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