You may think of cycling as a low-impact sport, but improper mechanics can lead to foot and ankle injuries. As the primary contact point where the power and efficiency of the body transfer to the bike, your feet play a vital role in cycling. And, compared to other body parts, the number and small size of the bones in your feet and ankles increase the risk for injury.
Proper bike fit is, of course, the key to efficient cycling and it also reduces the risk of injury to the feet and ankles, as well as the rest of the body. Novice or competitor, it also makes riding more enjoyable.
Proper fit improves body alignment between the feet, ankles, knees and hips, reducing stress and the risk of repetitive-motion injuries. For example, the most efficient pedal stroke is made with the foot in a rigid, neutral position. Excessive pronation, or rolling of the foot inward, on that downward stroke is not only a waste of power, it may cause tibialis tendonitis, Achilles issues, hot spots, blisters and calluses, not to mention knee and ankle pain. Orthotics can control over-pronation and create a more effective stoke, which delivers more power to the bike.
In addition, wearing a properly fit cycling shoe with either a clipless pedal or toe-clip system is a good way to avoid potential problems. A cycling shoe should fit snuggly, but not so tight that there is discomfort in the toes or ball of the foot. Be sure to wear your orthotics while testing the fit of your cycling shoes.
Podiatrists are specifically trained the biomechanics of the foot and how foot function can affect the rest of the body. Don’t let your feet keep you from fully enjoying your active lifestyle.