– By Ryan Ignatz
As a long time professional bike fitter helping resolve common issues, I’ve put together a few bike fit troubleshooting tricks you can try at home. If you want to learn more about the world of bike fitting, enjoy taking my course (see below).
FOOT HOT SPOTS AND NUMBNESS
A very common issue for riders trying to do longer rides. Either the rider will get numbness in the toes or forefoot or a hot, burning sensation under some part of the foot. Here are some things to check:
- Cleat placement:
Ideally the part of the cleat associated with the center of the pedal axle should be located halfway between the 1st and 5th metatarsal joint. As the foot gets larger or even as the event distance gets longer, I find setting the center closer to the 5th met head. This also reduces overuse of the calf/quad which may lead to added efficiency on the bike and less calf/quad fatigue for the run.
- Foot supports:
When the arch or forefoot are not supported properly, the foot may either collapse in the arch or be held rigid. These can lead to nerve pinching and lateral foot pressure. Adding a supportive footbed that fits your arch height or keeps your arch from collapsing along with the correct amount of forefoot support (usually varus wedge) should help. Additionally this may improve knee tracking, power transfer, efficiency, and comfort while reducing the chance for injury of the foot, knee or hip.
- Better fitting shoes:
It could just be the shoe is the issue. Maybe they are too narrow, short, or the wrong curvature. If the problems persist after other accommodations have been made, it may just be you have the wrong shoe for your foot.
- Pedal mechanics:
Once in a while aggressive toe pointing can be the culprit. You may want to video yourself or work with a fitter to help address the issue.
(numbness, discomfort, or tissue damage)
One of the top complaints I help riders work through is saddle discomfort. That comes in many forms, but most of the time are easy to solve with either some tweaks or the right saddle. Here are some ideas to keep your undercarriage happy:
- Seat placement:
You can try moving it around some, but probably working with a fitter to confirm placement of seat and your body is sound.
- Saddle width:
Check saddle width relative to sit bone width for road/mtn/gravel (does not alway apply to tri bike saddles in tri position)
- Switch seats:
Ask a friend, ask at shop, or try demo seats when possible.
- Proper clothing:
Try riding with various cycling shorts to figure out which shorts are the most comfortable for the combination of your body, your position, and riding style
If the saddle issue persists, you may need to rest the tissue and see a professional to help guide you through the process of reducing the symptom.
There are many issues that can present themselves when you start logging more time on a bike. Hopefully some minor tweaks can help you find relief in the foot or bum. Otherwise, spending some time with a professional fitter should help pinpoint the source of the issue.
I pride myself in understanding the nuances of triathlon fit which encompasses the amount of drop an individual should have. Feel free to contact me for more questions on this topic, or to set up a professional bike fit, and take the guesswork out of your bike setup.
About Ryan Ignatz
- Master Bike Fitter
- Masters Degree in Kinesiology and Applied Physiology from University of Colorado at Boulder
- Taught Anatomy, Physiology, and Exercise Physiology at CU Boulder
- Serotta International Cycling Institute (SICI), Fit Institute Slowtwitch (F.I.S.T), BG Master Fitter, and Retul Fit Instructor
- Multiple top 10 Xterra Worlds Finisher, Xterra AG World Champion, Top 5 finishes at Xterra National Championships, Top 15 Pro Road Nationals and 3rd at Pro Nationals Duathlon
- Philosophy – Being an expert means never knowing everything and continuing to learn and adapt while teaching others the “why”
Online Course: Fundamentals of Bike Fitting Course
Over the course 32 videos Master Fitter and Pro Triathlete, Ryan Ignatz, offers the most comprehensive bike fit course for athletes looking to better understand how they interact with the bike and the benefits of a great bike fit.