Cycling Orthotics for Comfort and Performance

A skill once taught and never forgotten, cycling has been present for centuries. Like all skills there is the prospect of regressionCycling Orthotics for Comfort and Performance and progression as we come to terms with injury, equipment changes or differences in surfaces that we complete these activities on - cycling is no different.
However, cycling is not a natural activity for humans, it places us in a connection between humans and machines where our lower limbs are expected to work like pistons.

In true road cycling, where the foot is latched to the pedal via cleats or a strap and both a push and pulling motion is created in conflict to the opposing limb, the legs are asked to act as levers or pistons to generate optimal force upon the small area of contact. With the foot being a highly manoeuvrable item, the ability to act as a stiff lever is difficult while cycling. Certain cycling shoes do have a carbon fibre sole which is in place to stiffen the shoe itself, however, this does not account for the movement inside the shoe which can then affect the angles of the knees, hips and body as a whole.

The foot is a very unstable structure. Despite the carbon fibre sole of the shoe attempting to stiffen it to act as a lever, the millimetres of room available in the shoe still allow for the natural movements of the foot which does not allow for the best transfer of energy.
Complaints such as “hot foot”, knee pain, ankle pain and metatarsal head discomfort can all be addressed with the use of an insole off-loading device or adjustment to bicycle set-up.

Due to these differences, several things need to be taken into consideration when we develop a customized cycling orthotic for a client.

Consideration 1 - Bike set up?
Has the client had their bike set up completed by a professional or trained and trusted retail assistant. This may seem like something extremely obvious, however, people do tend to buy bicycles from online retailers or second hand - believe close enough is good enough.

Consideration 2 - What type of footwear does the client have?
Is the chosen footwear appropriate for the width and length of the client's foot and if not can this be remedied? Additionally, is the cleat/pedal set appropriate, allowing for a suitable amount of forefoot contact to produce power and comfort?

Consideration 3 - What are we trying to achieve?
Different clients will desire a different outcome from their custom cycling orthotics. Some will wish for comfort so they can ride further without pain. Others will desire orthoses purely to help improve their performance. Understanding why a client wishes for their desired outcome and how we can best achieve this goal is a very important part of the customization process.

Whether it is improving your comfort or performance custom orthotics can make a big difference to your cycling experience. If you are interested in getting customised orthotics for your cycling, please don't hesitate to contact one of our experienced podiatrists.

 

By Jackson McCosker - Podiatrist at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic