Selecting a bicycle that meets your specific needs is an important step in cycling. However, proper cycling shoes are one of the most important pieces of cycling equipment that often go overlooked. Cycling shoes must be stable to efficiently transfer power from your feet to the pedals. By adding custom made orthotics to well made cycling shoes, you create a platform that efficiently transfers power from your feet to the pedals.
While, most orthotics control the arch and heel, for cycling, the rider requires forefoot balancing. Forefoot balancing, unlike in other sports, is critical for the cyclist. The marathon runner disperses his weight in the heel and power from the toe. In cycling the forefoot transfers all the power from the legs directly into the pedal. The bones in this area of the foot are simply not designed for this amount of pressure like those of the heel.
The lack of support in your cycling shoes allows the foot to collapse through the arch while pedaling, which may cause arch pain, tendon problems, or burning under the bottom of the foot. This collapsing of the medial arch reduces the amount of downward force applied with every rotation (Australian Case Study). That is simply wasted energy. You don't train long hard hours just to waste energy.
Custom made orthotics also protect your feet from the stress of pedaling. Investing in cycling-specific shoes and orthotics is an absolute necessity, especially if you have had preexisting problems with your feet.
Here are some of the most common lower extremity cycling injuries:
- Shin Splints: Pain is typically found mid way between the knee and ankle on either side of the leg bone. It is commonly related to excessive foot pronation (collapsing arch). Proper stretching and corrective orthoses for pronation can help prevent shin splints. It’s recommended to have this condition evaluated by a podiatrist.
- Achilles Tendinitis: Irritation and inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the back of the heel. This condition can be treated with ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications. Chronic pain or any swelling should be professionally evaluated by a podiatrist.
Sesamoiditis: The sesamoids are two small bones found beneath the first metatarsal bones (The great toe); the sesamoids can become inflamed or rupture under the stress of cycling. Sesamoiditis can be relieved with proper shoe selection and orthoses. Chronic pain should be evaluated by a podiatrist.
- Neuroma: This is an impingement of small nerve branches between the second and third or third and fourth toes. This impingement can cause swelling that result in numbness, tingling, burning, or sharp shooting pains into the toes. Custom orthotics, wider shoes, or loosening toe straps or shoe laces can alleviate the problem. You can also try a clip less system help with the pain. If the problem persists, see you local podiatrist.