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Old 02-23-10, 07:20 PM   #1
lesiz
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Sore feetsies

I have a foot condition that is basically inflamation of the joints in the toes. I am very sensitive to pressure on the balls of the feet. I wear orthodics in my shoes to shift weight away from the balls of the feet toward the heels. I have one set of orthos for my civilian shoes and one set for my cycling shoes.

Problem is, with the cycling shoes, the cleats are right under the balls of the feet, pretty much defeating the function of the orthos. After a long ride of climbing, the balls of my feet are very sore.

My podiotrist said I need to move the cleats either forward or backward 1-1 1/2 inches. On my commuting bike which has flat pedlas for use with civilian shoes, I have tried pedalling in both positions, toward the toes and on the arch of the foot. Pedalling on the toes, I seem to maintain most of the efficiency of the normal position, but it puts more stress on the ankles. Pealling on the arches gives a good solid platform and takes almost all of the pressure off the ball of the foot. But it seems a less efficient way to pedal.

Has anyone else dealt with this condition, and tried different cleat positions or maybe some other solution I haven't considered?
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Old 02-23-10, 07:22 PM   #2
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Old 02-26-10, 02:46 AM   #3
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Your question is one that competitive cyclists have asked. To answer in short: placing the cleat further back is not necessarily less efficient. Most studies on the matter compare the typical placement (beneath the ball) with a mid-arch placement. No differences are typically found, and the authors often wonder if it isn't actually more efficient; if they're just as good using a position they never practice, what would happen if they practiced that way? This is just speculative, but a worthwhile question.

For someone in your position, it would be typical to move the cleat backward. Moving it forward would increase the demand on the triceps surae (calf muscles) and Achilles tendon. It isn't something most people would advise.

If you move your foot forward (cleat backward), you will probably want to change your saddle position to compensate. If you move it really far back, you'll have to watch out for toe overlap with the front wheel, but this is usually only a problem at very low speeds.

The rearward cleat position is not good for standing to sprint or climb, though. It is usually used by triathletes and long-distance types, who require generally constant effort. Plenty of RAAM types have put their cleats very far back for various reasons, and recommend doing so. Not that that proves it's the best for performance. it just shows that some people find it to be a good solution.

Try adjusting your saddle, and give yourself some time to get used to it. It isn't rare. It isn't weird. Just try it.

I actually was thinking about this today, because I have a bunion on one foot that will probably give me grief someday. It's comforting to know I can probably just move the cleat back and keep going. hopefully, it'll hold off until I don't care one iota about going fast, and am just happy to be able to ride. I've tried pushing my cleat back, and settled slightly behind the ball. If i had to drill my shoes and put the cleat on my heel to keep riding? Sure.

Last edited by tadawdy; 02-26-10 at 02:55 AM.
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Old 02-27-10, 09:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by tadawdy View Post
Your question is one that competitive cyclists have asked. To answer in short: placing the cleat further back is not necessarily less efficient. Most studies on the matter compare the typical placement (beneath the ball) with a mid-arch placement. No differences are typically found, and the authors often wonder if it isn't actually more efficient; if they're just as good using a position they never practice, what would happen if they practiced that way? This is just speculative, but a worthwhile question.

For someone in your position, it would be typical to move the cleat backward. Moving it forward would increase the demand on the triceps surae (calf muscles) and Achilles tendon. It isn't something most people would advise.

If you move your foot forward (cleat backward), you will probably want to change your saddle position to compensate. If you move it really far back, you'll have to watch out for toe overlap with the front wheel, but this is usually only a problem at very low speeds.

The rearward cleat position is not good for standing to sprint or climb, though. It is usually used by triathletes and long-distance types, who require generally constant effort. Plenty of RAAM types have put their cleats very far back for various reasons, and recommend doing so. Not that that proves it's the best for performance. it just shows that some people find it to be a good solution.

Try adjusting your saddle, and give yourself some time to get used to it. It isn't rare. It isn't weird. Just try it.

I actually was thinking about this today, because I have a bunion on one foot that will probably give me grief someday. It's comforting to know I can probably just move the cleat back and keep going. hopefully, it'll hold off until I don't care one iota about going fast, and am just happy to be able to ride. I've tried pushing my cleat back, and settled slightly behind the ball. If i had to drill my shoes and put the cleat on my heel to keep riding? Sure.
Dood, I got bunions too! We must be related or something! We suffer in solidarity!

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Old 03-04-10, 07:19 AM   #5
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I think you're supposed to pedal with the ball of your foot no matter what. you might try a better shoe - meaning something with a very rigid sole like a MTB shoe. then the sole would flex less and distribute the pressure more evenly rather than just on the balls of your feet. but in terms of foot position on the pedal - I'm pretty sure it's got to be the balls of your feet not your toes or your arches.
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Old 03-04-10, 09:55 PM   #6
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"I think you're supposed to pedal with the ball of your foot no matter what. "

Why is this?

"The rearward cleat position is not good for standing to sprint or climb, though. It is usually used by triathletes and long-distance types"

I'm a long distance type, but it's usually long distance over hills and mountains. It looks like there's no good answer for me. So I'm not sure. I'm leaning toward moving the cleats back. And see how that works out.
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Old 03-04-10, 10:01 PM   #7
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I moved my cleats back as far as they would go in order to get rid of hot spots when I ride long distances. I haven't noticed any difference in pedaling power.
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Old 03-04-10, 10:57 PM   #8
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"I think you're supposed to pedal with the ball of your foot no matter what. "
Why is this?
People think this because it's way they always see it done, and it makes some sense. It's "common knowledge," along the lines of KOPS. If you think of cycling as being patterned after walking, then you can see the parallel. What this fails to realize, though, is that, despite sharing some similarities, it's not necessary for cycling to be much like walking at all. We did build the machine to fit us, but the load patterns and mechanics of the two activities are different due to the absence/presence of bearing weight. The studies I've seen on power output support the idea that cleat position is more or less personal.
Quote:
"The rearward cleat position is not good for standing to sprint or climb, though. It is usually used by triathletes and long-distance types"
I should have clarified that this is what I found, and heard others say. It isn't that it's not doable, but maybe less than ideal for these situations. When forcefully extending the leg, we reflexively plantar flex the foot, something that does carry over from natural human locomotion (running and jumping). Having the cleat very far back can make this feel awkward, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. You'd have to allow time to adjust, which almost no one is willing to do. I admit to not giving the far-back position much time, but I also fixed my problem with a smaller adjustment and didn't like the way the big change affected my cadence.

Last edited by tadawdy; 03-04-10 at 11:04 PM.
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