By Shannon White (BAHSc. CAT (c) Certified Athletic Therapist)
Are your feet fully prepared for the stress they undergo during cycling? In comparison to other activities cycling is relatively non-weightbearing. However, the repetitive motion over many miles combined with poor biomechanics can sometimes lead to injury.
Unlike walking and running, which typically involve the heel striking the ground, during biking the forefoot is the only area in contact with the pedal. In order to maximize power and efficiency from the glutes, quads and hamstrings it is important that the foot has very little movement during riding.
A few common biking ailments include: knee pain, ITB syndrome, Achilles tendonitis and metatarsalgia. Metatarsalgia is pain and numbness in the forefoot caused by tight shoes and pressure on the pedal. Differences in leg length may also cause issues with muscle imbalance and stroke efficiency.
If you have pain or discomfort with biking it is important to first check the fit of your bike, as well as looking at your training schedule. Check your footwear; biking shoes should be stiff and snug yet not cramped or too short. Perhaps another solution would help: massage therapy, stretching, taping or ice.
If issues persist it’s time to look at getting custom orthotics for cycling. Seek the help of a Certified Pedorthist; they are experts at biomechanics and shoe fitting. Materials should be light but stiff and have a low profile. It is also common to add a metatarsal pad to decrease pressure on the forefoot. Space is at a premium in cycling shoes and we don’t want to cramp the feet, the custom orthotic should be a similar thickness to the liner that was previously in the shoe.
Keep your feet happy and they will take you through the cycling season.