Education

Cycling Shoe Surgery

Posted By Robyn Hughes, ND

Essential Footgear:

Comments
July 04, 2016
Heather

What about the mountain biking system? There are more shoe options that look like normal shoes. Or how about saving piles of money and riding with flat pedals? You can wear any old shoes. I’ve never had a problem. I could never fit into tight cycling shoes, so it was never an option (admittedly, I was afraid of being clipped in). The trend right now, at least in random and touring, is to use wide downhill platform pedals. Lots of support with little to no reports of pedal strike and such.

July 04, 2016
Natural Footgear

Hi, Heather,

Thank you for your message. We’ve found that, while there are indeed more options (especially when it comes to shoe shape) for mountain biking shoes, there still is not an ideal option for pedaling. Better, yes, but still not sufficiently wide in the toe box for most people.

I really like your flat pedal idea, especially when the pedal is combined with a simple and effective strapping system to keep the foot in place and the power transfer high. Pedal strike on sharp corners is a consideration in some cases, but this can be managed pretty easily once you’ve adjusted to the new system.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

August 26, 2016
Mike Sweeney

Great article! I developed really bad knee pain as soon as I started wearing clipless shoe pedals and my feet would cramp up frequently, especially on downhills. I didn’t think it would be a very difficult transition. A lifetime of wearing soccer cleats has made my pinky toes useless and given me a full-blown bunionette as well as neuromas on both feet. I love soccer, but a lot of these suggestions wouldn’t work for soccer cleats. Thanks for all the helpful content!

August 26, 2016
Natural Footgear

Hi, Mike,

Thank you for your comment. We are thrilled that you enjoyed the article! We have many cyclists and soccer enthusiasts who regularly ask us about foot-healthy cycling shoes and cleats, and we are always on the lookout for new options for both sports.

I have included some additional resources below that you may find helpful in achieving optimal foot health:

Bunionettes:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17856604-bunionettes

Neuromas & Natural Foot Health:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17888880-neuromas-natural-foot-health

Tailor’s Bunions and Neuromas eCourses:
www.naturalfootgear.com/pages/do-you-have-foot-pain

Neuromas: Conventional vs. Natural Approaches:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17888868-neuromas-conventional-vs-natural-approaches

If you have any additional thoughts, please do send them our way!

Kind regards,
Laura Trentman

December 14, 2016
John Hack

Does the Topo Sante have a grippy Vibram sole? Can it be used with a flat mountain bike pedal without the toe strap?

December 14, 2016
Natural Footgear

Thank you for your questions, John! We appreciate you reaching out to us.

The Topo Sante has a regular rubber outsole (i.e., not a Vibram outsole), though it’s quite grippy in its own right and I haven’t had any issues with slipping on the pedal. Personally, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use this shoe in combination with a flat mountain bike pedal that does not possess a toe strap.

Note: The manufacturer has actually discontinued this model of shoe, so if we have any remaining stock in this model, they are the last of their kind. You can see our current lineup of men’s and women’s footwear (including athletic footwear) by visiting these pages:

Men’s Shoes:
www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/mens-shoes

Women’s Shoes:
www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/mens-shoes

Cheers!
Marty Hughes, DC

January 27, 2017
James

If you want to improve your pedal setup, have a look at Pedaling Innovations Catalyst Pedal (www.pedalinginnovations.com). It is longer than the average flat pedal so it supports the foot at the ball and heel just like flat ground does.

January 27, 2017
Natural Footgear

Hi, James,

Thank you for your message and for sharing your creation with us! A lot of what you describe in the video on your site’s homepage is in line with what we espouse here at Natural Footgear. The Catalyst Pedal looks very intriguing, and we would love to give it a try.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

January 27, 2017
John Nevin

Greetings,

Well, I wish I had known about your info, say, 30 years earlier! I am recovering from my first hammertoe procedure (1 of 2). Summary: flat feet, led to hallux rigidus, wear orthotics now, cheilectomies …it goes on. I was considering slicing up my bike shoes when I first saw your blog post, and I am glad I looked in on it again. Now I see you going retro vis-a-vis clipped pedals?! Wow! I love my SPD pedals, but I concede defeat.

The surgeon told me to expect the hammertoe condition to come back, and I want to do everything I can to NOT have that happen. I am a little unsure about the toe spacer you sell, as similar products I have tried in the past I have found unusable, uncomfortable, etc. But I want the best mix going forward once I get these surgeries out of the way. I need to start riding again!! Any advice is appreciated.

January 27, 2017
Natural Footgear

Hi, John,

Thank you for your message! Better late than never, I say. Though we prefer to avoid surgery wherever possible, post-surgery can be a great time to implement natural foot health concepts and approaches. Your surgeon is correct that the hammertoe condition will probably recur … IF your toes remain subject to the cramped toe boxes of conventional footwear.

You might be interested in learning more about natural approaches to hammertoes, flat feet, hallux rigidus, and other foot and toe conditions by signing up for our free condition-specific e-courses on this page:

www.naturalfootgear.com/pages/newsletter-courses

You may also appreciate this article that we put together on the ways to restore foot health after surgery:

www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17914760-six-ways-to-restore-foot-health-after-surgery

In terms of Correct Toes, please check out this page to learn more about how this device differs from others currently available:

www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/product-info/17922312-correct-toes-vs-other-toe-spacers

I sure do hope that you’ll be able to ride again soon! Best of luck to you with your foot and toe rehabilitation.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

January 25, 2018
Jay

I just visited my podiatrist and learned that I have a neuroma in my left foot. Reason for the visit was due to numbness developing approximately 15 miles into any bike ride. Eight weeks ago I purchased a new pair of Shimano RC7 road bike shoes with an extremely stiff carbon fiber sole. The doctor suggested that I get a wider shoe even though I have narrow feet. Yesterday I received the wide version of the same shoe. Fifteen miles later, same issue! He suggested that this would be a trial and error situation until I find a pair of shoes that did not cause the numbness. He suggested a leather upper shoe instead of vinyl non-stretching material. Last night I ordered an insole from Scott that has ergonomic foot padding across the metatarsal area and heel.

My question: In your opinion, would I be better served finding a road bike shoe that does not have such a stiff sole? Would that make any difference? I do not have numbness in regular shoes or sneakers. Eight weeks ago I switched from mountain bike shoes with SPD clips to road bike shoes with SPD-SL clips. There are so many factors that I need to rule out, but I would appreciate your opinion.

Thanks.

January 25, 2018
Natural Footgear

Hi, Jay,

Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about that neuroma diagnosis. Right off the bat, I want to share with you a few resources from our site that I think you might find helpful:

Neuromas:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17888848-neuromas

Neuromas & Natural Foot Health:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17888880-neuromas-natural-foot-health

Neuromas: Conventional vs. Natural Approaches:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/education/17888868-neuromas-conventional-vs-natural-approaches

Conventional cycling shoes are among the most problematic for feet, given their shape and stiffness and the amount of time that’s spent in them during athletic activity. I think that most cyclists are best served by using a combination of foot-healthy athletic shoes (i.e., shoes that let your foot flex and bend and that don’t constrict your toes) and a pedal, such as the Catalyst Pedal, that lets your entire foot participate in the pedaling motion, not just the ball of your foot.

I recommend checking out our Catalyst Pedals Review article (www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/product-info/catalyst-pedals-review) to learn more about this foot-health-positive product for cyclists of all stripes.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

January 25, 2018
Alan Lott

Your article is awesome and groundbreaking! I’ve been dealing with neuromas and metatarsalgia for years with clipless pedals, and the reason of course is that cycling shoe manufacturers naturally make shoes for narrow feet. Anyway, I’ve been using Icebug insoles and Hapad met pads with 85% pain reduction with supposed wide Shimano shoes, which even when stretched aren’t wide enough. My last ride was on platform pedals and Altra Paradigm shoes and was wonderful. What are your thoughts about the Catalyst Pedal? It’s a step further than Power Grips because it uses the whole foot versus a pushing motion into the toe-clip.

January 25, 2018
Natural Footgear

Hi, Alan,

Thank you for your comment and kind words! Much obliged!

We love the Catalyst Pedal! It allows you to get both ends of your main foot arch on the pedal itself, which is helpful for a whole host of reasons. To learn more about our thoughts on Catalyst Pedals, here are some links for you to check out:

Catalyst Pedals Review:
www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/product-info/catalyst-pedals-review

Catalyst Pedals Podcast Interview:
www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-fpv27-7bae2b

Catalyst Pedals: A Cyclist’s Perspective:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMcML_lGqm8

We’re here to help if any other questions arise!

Cheers,
Marty Hughes, DC

January 25, 2018
Ralph Sampson

Thanks for the article. Can you provide me with more info about cutting slits, and about the use of the hammer? I’ve just developed pain on my right foot due to what appears to be a tailor’s bunion. My podiatrist preferred to call it simply a bump. He suggested I try a shoe modification or a different pair of shoes. Off to the bike shop tomorrow to see what they may say. I found your helpful article during the night. Perhaps I’ll have to take matters into my own hands with my really expensive bike shoes: Yikes!

January 25, 2018
Natural Footgear

Hi, Ralph,

Thank you for your comment. And thank you for your kind words about the article! We really appreciate that.

In general, we’ve found that making slits around the sides of the shoe’s toe box is most helpful. A sturdy utility knife usually works quite well for this purpose. In terms of the hammer, several good whacks to the hard tip of the toe box can really loosen things up and create more space at the ends of the toes.

Your hesitation to modify your expensive cycling shoes is totally understandable! But, as we say, it’s always better to perform surgery on your shoes than on your toes!

Please do let us know if you have any other questions.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

February 13, 2018
Dick Felton

I actually did the surgery that you suggest on a set of SIDI Maxi shoes and I must say that, with the insert out, I have lots of room—they are more comfortable for sure. I still get some hotspots, but I am sure it is not from the shoe being too narrow. SO, what to try now? I tried using my Correct Toes inside my cycling shoes, but the shoes are just a little too narrow for them to be comfortable on longer than 100 km rides. I also have Pedag metatarsal pads and Strutz foot pads. I have also started to wear toe socks while cycling. Do you have a recommendation on where to go from here? Thanks for all the great products and help. My feet are healing!

February 13, 2018
Natural Footgear

Hi, Dick,

Thank you for your comment. We’re glad to hear that your feet are healing!

One thing we recommend to ensure a more comfortable ride is to combine foot-healthy athletic shoes (www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/mens-shoes) with Catalyst platform pedals. Please check out our Catalyst Pedals Review article for more info about this great product for all types of cyclists:

www.naturalfootgear.com/blogs/product-info/catalyst-pedals-review

I hope this info helps! Please let us know if you have any additional questions. Happy pedaling!

Cheers,
Andrew Potter

March 02, 2018
Kevin

I found this article because it mentioned soccer, and I was hoping to find wide toe box soccer cleats or some other solution.

I’ve played soccer for many years but had to stop last year due the development of a bunion. Since early January, I’ve been wearing Correct Toes, using minimalist shoes exclusively, and doing the stretches and massages daily, and the situation has already improved a lot!

I’m very happy with this and will wait patiently for my bunion to recover even more, but I’m in my early thirties and would love to play soccer again someday. Do you have any advice about how to achieve this goal? Any thoughts on shoe options? Will the impact of the ball and/or opponents adversely affect the bunion?

Thanks!

March 02, 2018
Natural Footgear

Hi, Kevin,

Thank you so much for your question. It’s great to hear that you’ve been experiencing some positive results using a natural approach to bunion care. Terrific!

Unfortunately, very few companies and manufacturers are addressing the conventional shape of sports-specific footwear. At the moment, we don’t know of any brands making a foot-shaped soccer cleat. I think your best bet, at this point, is to try using a foot-healthy athletic shoe (such as the ones we offer on our site: www.naturalfootgear.com/collections/mens-shoes) in combination with your Correct Toes when easing back into soccer playing. I realize that, without the cleated sole, this may put you at a competitive disadvantage, but I think rehabilitating your toes and protecting your big toe problem area is the top priority here.

I hope this information has been helpful. Please let us know if you have any additional questions moving forward!

Cheers,
Andrew Potter

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