Monday, May 5, 2008

For Serious Cyclers, The Feet Are Key To Power Production

The problems associated with the feet of cyclists are much different from walking. Common injuries associated with cycling include pain in the Achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis , patellar tendonitis causing kneecap pain, iliotibial band syndrome causing hip pain and pain on the outside of the knee. There are biomechanical problems of the foot that can cause or at least significantly contribute to these condition. However before correcting problems with the foot it is essential to first be sure that the bicycle is properly fit to the rider. This usually requires a specialist with knowledge on the proper biomechanical alignment of the rider to the bike. In addition if the rider is using shoes with cleats and it is critical that the cleats and shoes be properly matched to the rider. Leg length differences, even slight leg length differences, can cause significant biomechanical imbalances for the cyclist and lead to injury. The leg length difference can be difficult to measure accurately but should become evident when being properly fit for the bicycle.

Misalignment of the foot during cycling can result in misalignment of the entire leg leaving the cyclist prone to injury as well as an inefficient power production. In terms of foot orthotics, a rigid orthotic is best suited for the cyclist to prevent pronation and to provide the most efficient force transfer to the pedal. In addition the orthotic should be full length with cushioning for the toes. Forefoot wedging is particularly important for the cyclist to ensure optimal biomechanical alignment of the leg to prevent the common injuries discussed above. If there is a leg length difference this can easily be incorporated into the orthotic.
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