Painful burning on the ball of the foot (also known as hot foot or metatarsalgia) is usually a result of hot weather or poorly fitting shoes - or worse, both - on long, hilly rides. "Pressure can pinch nerves in one or both your feet and shut down a ride fast," says podiatrist and time-trial cyclist Amol Saxena. "If hot foot strikes while you're on a ride, there isn't much you can do other than stop, take off your shoes and let your feet cool down."
As usual, prevention is better than cure: Saxena took the following precautions to keep his feet cool when he raced in the Duathlon World Championships in Edinburgh in September.
1. Do The Squish Test
When you're shopping for cycling shoes, pull out the insole and hold it up to the bottom of your bare foot (in front of a mirror). "If you can see any part of your foot beyond the borders of the insole, you need a wider shoe," says Saxena. A simple tip: when you find the perfect shoes, buy another pair as backup.
2. Take A Load Off
Move your cleats a few millimetres closer to the heelof the shoe to take pressure off your forefoot. Or switch to a pedal with a larger platform to more evenly distribute the pressure across your feet.
3. Cushion The Blow
Over time and after many miles on the bike, your feet start to lose their natural padding, which can make riding painful. Adding more supportive insoles to your cycling shoes can help. If you're shopping for new shoes, take the insoles along to make sure you get the best fit.
4. Be Materialistic
Choose socks made of high-tech fibres, such as Coolmax, which wick away sweat, and don't buy a pair right off the rack - try them on with your cycling shoes first.