Foot numbness can be caused by a number of problems, including: improper cleat alignment, wrong shoe size, or an uncomfortable saddle.
When one’s cycling shoes are too tight or too small, the feet and blood vessels in the feet become constricted, especially when pushing hard on the pedals. Also, feet tend to swell when exercising, putting more pressure on blood vessels. When that happens, the toes and feet begin to go numb as a result of the constriction of the shoe itself.
Another cause of foot numbness occurs when cleats are improperly aligned on the shoe. If the cleat is aligned incorrectly for the person, this can cause uneven pressure across the foot and causing “hot spots” and unnecessary pressure in different parts of the foot. Having the cleat aligned further back and in a larger part of the foot can also help in providing a more even pressure across the feet. If not, uneven pressure puts a large amount of stress in one area of the foot, causing numbness to the toes and surrounding areas.
Lastly, if the cleats are properly aligned and the shoes are the correct size, it is time to look at the saddle. If a cyclist feels uncomfortable in the saddle department, that means standing up more often to find relief from the sit bones and sensitive soft tissue areas. Standing up on the pedals to take away pressure from the saddle puts the feet in more stress on each pedal stroke. That extra stress causes extra pressure on nerves and blood vessels, leading to an increased chance of foot numbness.
Make sure you feel comfortable on your saddle, without feeling the need to stand up often to relieve crotch pressure. Once you find the right saddle, you will find that you can sit comfortably on the saddle without putting too much pressure on your feet.