Can my feet affect my cycling?
While the popularity of cycling has increased dramatically over the last decade or so, we have found that very few people really understand the importance of feet in cycling.
Your feet play an enormous part in your enjoyment and success in this sport.
Cycling is very different to running and walking
With walking and running, the foot acts as a mobile adaptor when you hit the ground than as a rigid lever to allow you to effectively propel your body weight forward.
During cycling, however, the foot needs to act as a rigid lever throughout the activity.
If your foot moves too much while cycling your lower leg will tend to internally rotate.
Internal rotation loads the knee abnormally and can promote internal rotation of the femur (thigh bone) which alters the way the leg muscles fire.
The sacroiliac joints or lumbar spine then have to cope with the movement.
Left: Foot properly aligned on orthosis footbed. Right: Improper alignment
Your feet power the pedals
The power generated by your body for turning the pedals comes mainly from:
- The hamstrings
- The quadriceps (thigh muscles)
- The hip flexors and
- The calf muscles.
This power needs to be directed through your feet into the pedals to drive the bike forward.
Any disruption in this energy transferal through your foot will make you a less efficient cyclist.
Remember, your feet are the only contact point of your body to the driving mechanism of the bike.
Many cycling shoes have very standard footbeds in them that attempt to hold the feet stable.
The problem with standard footbeds is that none of us have "standard feet", we are all different.
Orthoses can help your cycling
Studies have shown that custom orthoses can dramatically reduce the rate of injury when cycling and may increase power transfer through the feet to the bike.
Orthotic foot-beds must be designed around your biomechanical needs, muscle activation patterns, posture, or foot structure.
They must be prescribed and fitted by someone who understands the demands of cycling like the team at Complete Podiatry.
The fit of your cycling shoe is also a very important part of effective and comfortable cycling.
Bike shoes are often purchased too small as people feel this gives better support and allows for the best power transfer to the pedals.
If your cycling shoes are too small this can cause stress on the delicate neural structures in the feet producing numbness and sharp, stabbing pains.
Cycling shoes are designed for different purposes and different shaped feet.
As much as we may like one brand they may not be the right shape for our feet and could cause injury.
Trying on a range of shoes prior to purchasing is very important.
Internet shopping should be avoided unless you know EXACTLY what you are looking for and have tried the shoe on previously.
Tips for minimising foot-related problems while cycling:
- Wear well-fitted footwear with good quality wicking socks to prevent blisters
- Use non-slip customised orthotic footbeds for maximum stability
- Set-up appropriate cleat positioning for best foot/pedal interface
- Invest in a proper bike setup
We are here to help
If you are experiencing foot and leg problems when cycling, the first thing to do is book an appointment with one of the Podiatrists at Complete Podiatry for a comprehensive assessment to identify what is causing your problem.
Once this is done, we will develop a structured management plan that outlines our best advice for how to stop your pain and help you to return to doing the things you love to do.
I'm so confident we can help your cycling that I'd love to chat with you personally, it's what I'm passionate about!
Just send us a message or call us on 8330 0004 & I'll be more than happy to explain how we can help you build an amazing life from the feet up.
Yours in helping build amazing lives from the feet up.
Director of Complete Podiatry