Cycling and (my) pes cavus 'type of feet'

A chiropodist (or podiatrist as they are now known) told me recently I have pes cavus 'type' feet. She said it as soon as I took my shoes off (my feet look normal to me although perhaps my toes do look a bit curled). I went to see the chiropodist because three doctors (general practitioners, or GPs) had told me the foot pain I've had since the start of December is a bit of a mystery even after several blood tests and x-rays. I am not diabetic or overweight, my blood count is normal, my circulation is okay, no arthritis, no gout, etc. I haven't just not cycled for two months but hardly walked except shuffling around the house with bandaged feet. At last this week things seem to be improving a bit; I have got some shoes on.

I haven't really cycled much for well over a year. I got out of the habit during re-roofing part of the house, and instead have been walking a lot, mostly (and daily) over the hills. Not that I've given up cycling. In fact I'm going to cycle, rather than walk, as soon as my feet have fully recovered. Pes cavus is a feature of the feet whereby they are more arched than usual and the toes are more curled. The feet don't lie flat properly, with the effect of undue forces in the wrong places causing bone or tissue damage. I've always found it difficult to find comfy shoes, and my feet tend to 'burn' after cycling 80 miles or so (but not always) – the same with walking down mountains – but whether this translates into my foot shape I am not sure. I used to run regularly and have always walked or cycled without any problem.

After the chiropodist had looked at my feet she asked whether I'd been wearing different shoes. As it happens, these painful red blotches on the bottom of my feet and the way they've been swelling up around the toes does coincide with new shoes. Leather shoes. I have not worn leather shoes (nor a suit or a shirt) since I quit my day job almost fifteen years ago. I always wear trainers, mostly running shoes. I like the softness and springiness and how lightweight they are. My new leather shoes have much harder and stiffer soles so I'm speculating that my feet just got soft over a number of years and a touch of pes cavus merely exacerbated things. And when I first got a nasty pain under my big toe I should have rested my feet instead of trying to 'walk through it' and making it much worse. That is where the damage was done, I think, and once you've got a pain in your foot you adjust everything around it, causing even more problems. None of this would have happened on my bike.

Anyway, what I'm coming round to is that regular cycling is probably better for my feet than regular walking. The foot is more static (even though it's going round in circles) and flat on the pedal, less rubbing and flexing, less load on a particular weak spot. Less wear and tear generally, I'd say. I've got an appointment in rheumatology in a couple of weeks and am waiting for one with the bio-mechanical department (or something) to see if I need special insoles (or something). In the meantime I'm looking forward to getting my bike out of the garage again, and Spring.

10 comments on “Cycling and (my) pes cavus 'type of feet'”

  1. Keith Edwards wrote:

    Sorry to read about this (it sounds French). Foot pain is horrid as it makes even simple things hard.
    Is it both feet?

  2. Hilary wrote:

    Yes, sorry to hear about this, if your feet aren't happy nothing else will be.
    Getting your bike out of the garage sounds like an excellent plan! 😀

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks. Both my feet have 'extravasations' underneath and a consultant told me (yesterday) to avoid loadbearing exercise until they are gone, and that will be weeks rather than days I think. So I'm using some weights for upper-body restoration (nothing to do with my feet). I will be cycling before I'm walking.

  4. Chris wrote:

    Ugh! Sounds gruesome. At least this condition has coincided with generally bad weather (every cloud and all that). Hope things get better soon – and the bike gets out of the garage soon after.

  5. Kern wrote:

    Hi Patrick. Bad news. As I recall, the feet are among the most sensitive body parts (some consider them erogenous zones). I agree with you re: cycling versus walking. Cycling is non-impact – one can ride long distances without aggravating an injury. I also agree with you re: spring. Oh, to feel warmth in the bones! Minus 38 today with the wind chill. Centigrade or Fahrenheit, it doesn't make much difference.

  6. Patrick wrote:

    Hi Kern. I got my bike out today and rode it to the top of the hill. Well, hill one. Hill one and two perhaps tomorrow, or soon. As far as walking goes, it's 200 yards then back and it still hurts. So that's a thumbs up for the bike. My big flat pedals help.

    The daytime temperature here is hovering around +7, almost T-shirt weather 🙂

  7. Patrick wrote:

    Feet gradually healing up, new suspension fork, disc brakes serviced, weather improving, riding my bike... almost back in the groove after 18 months (not all down to my feet).

  8. kathy wrote:

    Hi, Just a thought but have you had bloods tested for B12 def ?

  9. Patrick wrote:

    Thanks. Tested normal, about six times! My feet are also back to normal (well, I think they're normal)

  10. Daniel wrote:

    Hi Patrick. Sorry and gladdened to hear this – glad that you seem to be recovered (I hope), sorry that you suffered at all – but at least partly gladdened that cycling has been a large part of your recovery, there is an awful lot of good about it 😀 Maybe also it is no bad thing that you've had something to encourage you to pick up the bike again..?

    Been doing a lot of riding meself (and generally hugely busy) too – including a cycling tour of Donegal (515miles in two weeks), a June with 950 miles under its belt, and another trip round the TdF '14 Day One route, this time for charity.. and mostly on my last year's project bike, a rebuilt and powdercoated Raleigh Clubman which is now my pride and joy. A Three Peaks Yorkshire attempt in two weeks' time, three choirs to sing with and a year of learning Ceroc dancing (a 17-mile evening ride each way to Tadcaster, with three hours of dancing in the middle..), a day job, and two more bikes on the build list this year are the reasons I've not found either time to read much nor write anything on Cycleseven this year. Need to clear the decks a bit and do some updating – I miss it!

    Brilliant ride on Saturday (125 miles, the TdF '14 Day One ride) following a not-dissimilar route to our can't ride through Swaledale without remembering it. Good times. May the rebirth continue.

    Best wishes,


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