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Metatarsal Pain (Ball of Foot)

Old 06-08-22, 04:40 AM
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daniell
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Metatarsal Pain (Ball of Foot)

I am experiencing metatarsal pain caused by the pedal pressure. I wonder whether a different pair of shoes would help. My present shoes are Five Ten Freerider. The sole is extremely flexible. I am surprised and disappointed that the shoes did not have stiff soles. I don't want to return to clipless. In other respects the shoes are good. They grip well and feel comfortable. I am considering Pearl Izumi X-Alp.
Any insight and or recommendations will be appreciated.
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Old 06-08-22, 05:17 AM
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Several things usually help

1. Stiff soles
2. Sufficiently wide toe box
3. Mount the cleats as far rearward as possible, if not using clipless, use wide platform pedals.
4. Insoles sometimes help

I mount my cleats midsole. Zero pressure over the ball of the foot
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Old 06-08-22, 05:24 AM
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I've always used flexible soles including the one on my MTB shoes. Never been uncomfortable, I guess it depends on the pedals you use.

My pedals look like this, I think they are called "quill pedals". I really like them for comfort, grip, and doesn't seem to be wearing the soles of my shoes at all.
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Old 06-08-22, 05:56 AM
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I've found adding arch support helps prevent foot pain while ridding.
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Old 06-08-22, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I've found adding arch support helps prevent foot pain while ridding.
Can you recommend an arch support?
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Old 06-08-22, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by daniell View Post
Can you recommend an arch support?
I used Powerstep Pinnacle, but I'm sure there are others.

https://powerstep.com/products/pinnacle-insoles
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Old 06-08-22, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by daniell View Post
Can you recommend an arch support?
Superfeet seem to be widely available.

But I'd circle back to stiff soles. Way back when I couldn't ride more than about 25 miles without my feet hurting. Asked the bike shop for recommendation, and they sold me a pair of PI. Pain went away, 100 miles was no problem (eventually!), and the shoes lasted 10 years or so until they just plain wore out.
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Old 06-08-22, 12:27 PM
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How much surface area on your pedals? How old are your Freeriders? I use a pedal with a good deal of surface area, which lowers pressure on my feet. My Freeriders predate the sale of Five Ten to Adidas, and they might have changed the shoe, in which case my experience is not comparable to yours. Surface area vs pressure remains important, though.

Have you consulted with a podiatrist? A good foot doc can help a lot to alleviate foot pain.
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Old 06-08-22, 01:02 PM
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It can be a challenge to find quality stiff shoes for flat pedals

many of the better stiff off-road shoes have a big open cavity for the cleat - and no 'cleat plug' or provision for a cleat plug

one relatively stiff shoe that is equipped with the cleat plug is the Pearl Izumi X Alp ; the shoe is fairly stiff in the front part of the sole and a little more flexible toward the heel

I purchased this shoe late last year - but only did a short ride with them so cannot provide a quality review

I also found an older Shimano shoe that is decent - and an older Bontrager model (Bontrager shoe is a tad narrow in toe box)

Last edited by t2p; 06-08-22 at 01:20 PM.
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Old 06-08-22, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
How much surface area on your pedals? How old are your Freeriders? I use a pedal with a good deal of surface area, which lowers pressure on my feet. My Freeriders predate the sale of Five Ten to Adidas, and they might have changed the shoe, in which case my experience is not comparable to yours. Surface area vs pressure remains important, though.

Have you consulted with a podiatrist? A good foot doc can help a lot to alleviate foot pain.
These are my pedals
https://www.amazon.com/MKS-180920302...s%2C163&sr=8-6
This is my second season using these shoes.
Many years ago I saw an orthopedic doctor who specialized in the foot. He told me that the problem was from pressure of the pedal. He advised using a metatarsal pad. He said that if that did not work, I should stop riding. As of late it has flared up again. I was really surprised do see how flexible the sole was. I never had shoes like that, either for platform pedals or for clipless. I hate to invest another $100 in new shoes, only to have the same problem.
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Old 06-08-22, 01:17 PM
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shoes that flex too much - for many bikers and runners - can lead to problems

big problems

especially with high arches (and similar)
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Old 06-08-22, 01:52 PM
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I'd try to find a podiatrist who rides or even runs. The advice to stop riding is premature, I think.

I'm surprised you have ball-of-foot pain with those MKS pedals. With soft soles, I'd expect pain where the pressure is - at the ridges. I rode SR quills (see link below) for 30 years with hard, stiff soled Puma touring shoes and Nike cycling shoes, and I rarely experienced foot pain. When my last pair wore out, I tried riding in running shoes, and 20 miles was my limit - my feet hurt too much to go farther.

Based on my experience, I think stiff-soled shoes will make a world of difference for you. But ...

I went to pinned, flat pedals, though, because I couldn't get shoes that worked for me. I tried one pair each of Bontrager and Bont shoes without cleats. They worked OK in the toeclips - the problem I had was that the soles were so slippery that I had trouble staying upright when I put my feet on the ground, even after a couple of hundred miles on the shoes (that's a couple of hundred on each shoe). The touring shoes had some rubber on the soles. The Nikes didn't, but the soles very quickly got rough enough that they didn't slip.

I see your main options this way:

1) MKS pedals, stiff-soled shoes, old-style cleats, toe clips, straps - almost guaranteed to stop the pain, if you've diagnosed the problem right. Alas, many people do not like cleats.

2) Freeriders and new pinned, flat pedals like my DMR V12s, Raceface Chester, Crank Bros Stamp, Wellgo MG1, etc. - this will probably at least reduce the pain and may prevent it altogether, but no guarantees.

Photos of SR quills: https://www.ebay.com/itm/31361423216...rchantid=51291
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Old 06-10-22, 08:16 AM
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I rested it for a few days. I put another insole from a different shoe on the of the exiting insole. I did my 20 miles with little discomfort.
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Old 06-16-22, 02:59 PM
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I am sorry to say that the metatarsal pain has returned. The problem may be the extremely flexible sole. I would appreciate it if somebody could recommend a shoe for flat pedals with stiff soles.
Thanks in advance
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Old 06-16-22, 03:51 PM
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Five Ten makes a Freerider DLX shoe that is reportedly stiffer than the standard version. The Giro Rumble VR is supposedly stiff, as well. It has a port for a cleat, but you don't have to use them.
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Old 06-18-22, 08:10 AM
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I was wondering. Would I be better off buying an insole or a new pair of shoes?
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Old 06-18-22, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by daniell View Post
I was wondering. Would I be better off buying an insole or a new pair of shoes?
I went for both.

I had a good pair of Sidi's with carbon soles, very stiff, lots of hotspot pain on longer rides, circa 3-4hrs it would hit.

I changed to Shimano RC902 S-Phyre's with a G8 insole and major difference. Nearly perfect. I rarely get the pain now and if I do, it is probably because I had my shoes tightened too much for too long.

I'd say if you already have a good set of stiff shoes, then insoles is the way to go first. But if you don't, then both in my opinion.

I recently bought a pair of Specialized S-Work's Torch since they market them as relieving hotspot pain but I haven't tried them yet.



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Old 06-18-22, 11:01 AM
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I am a doctor, although not an orthopedic, but an internist. Despite that I have treated orthopedic patients at the emergency ward so I have some minimal experience. For that metatarsal pain I would suggest a 10 days abstinence from riding bikes, cooling and to avoid putting any creams on the metatarsal site. I have no idea about shoes so for that please ask fellow bikers. Get well soon
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Old 06-18-22, 11:31 AM
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Been there, done this.

When i started riding some 4+ decades ago I initially rode in shoes like you're using now..that is flexible sole. I used cage (campy) pedals much like you're using now. I rode a lot. My feet were sore after a long day. Eventually I started wearing racing, stiff soled shoes (Sidi) and the feet issues went away. Fast forward many years and occasional foot problems, and my feet are about 75% numb from the front of the arch forward. I think I did some nerve damage by wearing flexy soled shoes. In recent years metatarsal pain has flared up, though I've found a solution that makes it go away.

Do this & your issues will go away.
1) Get some stiff soled biking shoes. Mountain/touring shoes will be fine without cleat ("clipless" SPD cleats). Often you can find pre-owned, like new bike shoes on ebay for peanuts.
2) Get some insoles if you have a high arches (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...e?ie=UTF8&th=1)
3) I'm guessing 1 & 2 will solve your issues. If not, get a pair of these https://www.walmart.com/ip/Strutz-Cu...e&athbdg=L1600
and wear them just back of the metatarsal pads on your feet. Not in your arch, but just behind your metarsal area on the ball of your foot. Google the causes of metatarsal discomfort and you'll understand why this works. Slip them on, wear a sock over them, then put on your riding shoe. It works.

You really need to dump the flexible shoes. Completely inappropriate if you're riding any more than casual, short distances.
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Old 06-18-22, 11:41 AM
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+1 on teh "Strutz" from WalMart - someone at my work gave me a set and they are helping a lot.

I would also like to say that pedaling style can help or hinder hotspots as well. Pulling up, pushing down, lightening up on your gearing and spinning more can all change the way the foot is compressed and uncompressed. I think of these hotspots as the foot version of "white knuckling" it.
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Old 06-18-22, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
Been there, done this.

When i started riding some 4+ decades ago I initially rode in shoes like you're using now..that is flexible sole. I used cage (campy) pedals much like you're using now. I rode a lot. My feet were sore after a long day. Eventually I started wearing racing, stiff soled shoes (Sidi) and the feet issues went away. Fast forward many years and occasional foot problems, and my feet are about 75% numb from the front of the arch forward. I think I did some nerve damage by wearing flexy soled shoes. In recent years metatarsal pain has flared up, though I've found a solution that makes it go away.

Do this & your issues will go away.
1) Get some stiff soled biking shoes. Mountain/touring shoes will be fine without cleat ("clipless" SPD cleats). Often you can find pre-owned, like new bike shoes on ebay for peanuts.
2) Get some insoles if you have a high arches (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...e?ie=UTF8&th=1)
3) I'm guessing 1 & 2 will solve your issues. If not, get a pair of these https://www.walmart.com/ip/Strutz-Cu...e&athbdg=L1600
and wear them just back of the metatarsal pads on your feet. Not in your arch, but just behind your metarsal area on the ball of your foot. Google the causes of metatarsal discomfort and you'll understand why this works. Slip them on, wear a sock over them, then put on your riding shoe. It works.

You really need to dump the flexible shoes. Completely inappropriate if you're riding any more than casual, short distances.
Thanks for your informative reply. I am now in the twilight of my cycling. I am 75 and have not done a century in many years. My usual ride is 20 miles. I would like to increase that if I could remedy the metatarsal issue. I will look for a shoe with a stiffer sole. I am considering these.
https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/1257...N1&csp=f&pos=2
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Old 06-18-22, 01:21 PM
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As I mentioned in a previous post - the Izumi X-Alp is fairly stiff - but I'm not familiar with the X-Alp Canyon model

One shoe I have is the X-Alp Divide - this model is noticeably more stiff than majority of free ride shoes

( pics attached )
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Old 06-18-22, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by daniell View Post
I will look for a shoe with a stiffer sole. I am considering these.
https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/1257...N1&csp=f&pos=2
The balls of my feet would get so sore I'd have to stop riding for 15 minutes +/-. I had a blade of grass stuck to the ball of my foot once as I put on my shoes. About 10-12 miles into a ride I had to stop..excruciating pain. I took off my shoe and sock and found the grass blade. I removed it and started riding again..pain went away. This can be a really annoying problem. This was before I found and started using the Strutz pads. Rigid arch (NOT the all foam flexy types) insoles also help as they keep your feet properly supported. Letting your arch flatten out ("pronation") just makes the problem worse.

Now days, I do the three things I mentioned above and ride 50+ miles with zero pain. Don't even think about it anymore.

The Pearl shoes look fine. I'm guessing Pearl knows how to make decent shoes. I have some Pearl bibs..they're nice. Search ebay for mountain bike shoes in your size. You may well find a similar pair for less than $50. Some are used-like new, some are new and last years model, some are floor samples..etc. Might be good to try on a couple pair of bike shoes to make sure of your EU sizing needs.
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Old 06-18-22, 09:46 PM
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I don't understand how walking doesn't aggravate the foot but pedals do, given how the mechanics of taking a step works vs. pedalling. This is the ball of the foot, no?
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Old 06-18-22, 10:58 PM
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What is happening to your feet is not normal. See a podiatrist who is a cyclist or runner and get their diagnosis and proceed from there.
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