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  1. #1
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    Compression Socks to Cure Cold Feet?

    Background... I'm a Cat 1 racer that likes doing 50-70mi mtb races. I have foot issues on my longest, hardest rides, and in the cold (live in Nebraska), and I'm wondering whether high quality compression socks might help solve it. I have very flat feet and use insoles to solve for overpronation in every pair of shoes I own, including cycling shoes (and my shimano winter boots).

    Even during summer, my feet begin to go numb at the 2-3 hour mark. This happens with different shoes, different socks, with my eggbeaters, candies, and Look Keo's. Only happens when I am pedalling really hard for long time.

    In the winter I'm not riding as hard, but I go outside down to 20 degrees.... my feet seem to get number much more easily than other riders. I even experienced very cold feet at 45 degrees with thick wool socks on a short ride. I've tried layering socks, thick merino wool, then thin merino wool as I thought I might be cutting off circulation. In addition, my wife says my feet stay freakishly cold when lounging around the house late at night/getting into bed, even when I'm wearing wool socks. My family has a history of diabetes, and I have mild hypoglycemia but I eat healthy/constantly so blood sugar is rarely an issue.... but my wife & I have hypothesized that perhaps I have very poor circulation.

    Might compression socks help my feet expel old blood, helping push it through veins back up to the heart, and bring new warmer blood back through arteries keeping my feet warmer, longer? Or I am just pretending to know something?

    Wanted to get feedback from fast/long riders on this forum before I plunk down $50 for some 2xu socks or similar.

  2. #2
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    IMHO it couldn't hurt to try it. I'm currently using some Swiftwick ones and they are top notch and VERY well made. If you want to try it out on the cheap go to Wal-Mart, or Target or something and look in the Pharmacy area for some compression stockings. They're thin, and not nearly as tight or as well made as the Swiftwicks, so you will HAVE to double up your socks (I would where it over my good socks) but they serve the same purpose. Sadly I know this from dealing with a DVT (blood clot) last year, but I'm now wearing the compression stockings after rides, and when I know I'm going to be sitting in front of the computer now.

    Hmm, I guess I didn't answer you question about the warmth, but maybe someone else will chime in.
    Former XXC Mag publisher (re)turned amateur bike blogger at The Soiled Chamois.

  3. #3
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    A bit off or your line of thought here but I thought I would just mention it.

    I'm more of a hiker than a mountain biker (but it's getting close) and do a lot of winter camping. One thing that cools your epidermis is evaporative cooling. That is to say, sweat cooling on the outside of your skin. Vapor barriers can make a big difference for some people. Now, your feet may look like a prune and I would definitely dry them out well afterwards, but maybe a waterproof non-breathable sock like kayakers wear may help with warmth.

    If you want to give it a try but do not want to drop a dime on it I know a couple guys would put bread bags (the plastic ones - make sure no holes) over their feet, then their socks, then their shoes.

    I know this sounds dumb - but a lot of people swear by it. I have worn latex gloves under my biking gloves in winter and I notice a big difference. Anyhow, I know Stephenson Warmlite sells vb socks....

    http://www.warmlite.com/vb_shirt.htm#anchor69453

    Good luck....

  4. #4
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    rfxc- chemical foot warmers or electric socks.

  5. #5
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    You said they are going numb in the summer, so I'm assuming that the numbness is not cold related. I have very flat feet, over pronate as well, and also have to ride with orthotics, pain in the a$$, so I feel your pain. I had a similar issue, left foot would go numb. I severely broke my left leg which had caused me to favor my right. I finally determined that I was never unloading the weight from the pedals. Moving my cleat around and making a conscious effort to unload the left leg took care of my problem. Start with your fore/aft cleat position.
    DO RIGHT AND FEAR NO MAN

  6. #6
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    have you tried shims or custom insoles? wont compression socks decrease blood flow? seems to me they'd make it worse.

  7. #7
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    Thanks guys for the ideas/feedback. Feels good to cover all the ideas and thoughts before I shell out some dough at a podiatrist.

    I use insoles that "wedge" my whole foot up and out. They help my running a ton. And when I first started using them delayed the numbness longer into a ride. They do for my whole foot what a lemond "le wedge" would do for a cleat.

    I do use chemical warmers but with mixed results. When using them I have to use significantly thinner socks to avoid getting my feet to cramped up in there. In my experience, the thinner sock is colder and cancels out the effects of the heat warmer.

    The vapor barrier idea is interesting, but seems to conflict with much info I've heard about aerobic workout in cold.... I guess if i was standing around, a baggy over my foot my be okay. but me feet can sweat alot and i would think a baggy would capture that moisture and get really cold and incomfortable in a hurry.

    Compressions socks are supposed to speed/aid bloodflow, so hopefully not cut off circulation to feet. I did buy a cheap pair from a local pharmacy, and tests around the house thus far are positive. Will try a ride with them soon, when its colder. See, their white, and go up to my knees, and I'm too fashion conscious to wear them with my cool weather knickers. :-)

  8. #8
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    rfxc- your answer is in your last response.
    Buy a pair of shoes a .5 Euro size bigger solely for winter riding..
    Voila!
    Plenty of room for whatever.

    One of the reasons I prefer hiking style shoes to more race style shoes is the flexibility of room that the lace-up designs have.

  9. #9
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    I use compression socks during stage races and I am almost certain they would make it worse.

    I know Lake has a couple of really high quality winter MTB boots. Good enough for upstate New York, at least.

  10. #10
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    I was just researching compression socks (b/c I've been having some foot numbness) and I ran across this old thread... anyway, sorry to resurrect the dead, but how about flat-pedals? From reading the Flat Pedal Manifesto, I get the sense that's a fix for some people (I haven't tried it yet though).

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