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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

Ask The TRIA Orthopaedic Surgeon

June 3, 2009

During our rides, the heat tends to get to us. Sometimes, it’s an environmental issue. Other times, it’s the bottom of our feet that get hot, but it may or may not be due to the ambient temperature. It could be another issue altogether.

For this answer, we asked again asked Dr. Fernando Pena, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon with the TRIA Orthopaedic Center, whose specialties include foot and ankle issues, reconstruction, and sports medicine. Here’s what he thinks about the cycling “hot spots:”

The commonly known “hot spots” are foot blisters or at a minimum, early stages of a blister. The reason why a blister takes place is because of the separation between the different layers of the skin. The separation creates damage to the skin and fluid leaks into it by loosing the ability to contain or seal the water inside our body.

The reasons to create that type of damage are many but for the most part all of them follow the same principle; having the skin moving back and forth against the shoe instead of being static. The skin on our feet is very mobile. You can put your finger on it and move the skin almost on any direction while your finger is on it. If from previous injuries or surgeries a scar is developed, the skin will be scarred down to the bone and therefore the ability of the skin to move back and forth is more limited.

Given proper time and a well planned progressive increase in activities, a blister will transform into a callus and remain as such until the activity is stopped. Calluses don’t represent any increased damage to the skin by themselves, but they may still be painful.

A good fitting shoe is mandatory to prevent this type of injuries. If the same spot continues being a problem, try to protect the painful spot by applying some protection to the area (foam or felt donuts) that you can hold in place with athletic tape.

If the “hot spots” are over the bottom of the foot, likely you will need some type of shoe insert to make the pressure over the ball of your foot more even and decrease the increased stress over that portion of the skin.