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Toes clench

Old 07-05-19, 08:02 AM
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zarbog
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Toes clench

Not sure where to post this but I enjoy the 50 plus gang.

I wear Sketchers Trail running shoes on my bike, with Race Face Chesters flat pedals. Pedal with the balls of my feet on the pedals. I have noticed that my toes end up being clenched when putting on speed or when climbing hills.

Feet are nice and firmly encased in the shoes, they don't move around and the pedals grip the soles of the shoes without slippage. When I notice them clenching, I relax them and then sure enough a bit later they are doing it again. Is this a natural reaction that everybodies feet do, or does it indicate a need to adjust something either in fit or technique ?

This is on my drop bar Giant Toughroad that I have managed to get dialed in fit wise for a pain free ride.
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Old 07-05-19, 08:08 AM
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I found I needed stiffer soles to prevent a similar toe issue. I now ride flats with bike shoes sans cleats and it works for me.
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Old 07-05-19, 10:57 AM
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I can clench my toes with my Five Tens, so it may not be a shoe issue, at least for me. I think it's normal to tighten muscles when stressing them. My solution is to consciously relax any muscles that doesn't need to be tightened when it comes to my attention. Learning to do that naturally is slow going, alas, but it helps.
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Old 07-05-19, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by zarbog View Post
Is this a natural reaction that everybodies feet do, or does it indicate a need to adjust something either in fit or technique ?
I don't notice that happening with me and I wear similar shoes and have similar pedals. Although I don't have a drop bar bike, so I wonder if body position contributes to clenching the toes?
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Old 07-05-19, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
I can clench my toes with my Five Tens, so it may not be a shoe issue, at least for me. I think it's normal to tighten muscles when stressing them. My solution is to consciously relax any muscles that doesn't need to be tightened when it comes to my attention. Learning to do that naturally is slow going, alas, but it helps.
+1 This is off topic but the huge benefit from both riding rollers (those pre-trainer contraptions you placed the bike on and rode like it was a very narrow bike trail) and fix gears is that they teach you (quite forcibly) to relax all the muscles that aren't actually powering you at that moment. On the fix gear going downhill, you can only go as fast as you can spin smoothly without it being a wild ride and far from fun. And smooth means those muscles not tensing up at all. Do this enough and your body learns to pedal while relaxing those not used muscles. (Rollers are even more demanding of being smooth.)

Toes - they are never in the drive path. They should never be tight. Now, neither rollers nor the fix gear will solve tight toes. That is, as the OP has learned, an inside job; ie inside the head. Tell those toes to relax! As many times as it takes for them to learn. And be patient. They don't listen much better than 2 year olds.

Ben
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Old 07-05-19, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by philbob57 View Post
I can clench my toes with my Five Tens, so it may not be a shoe issue, at least for me. I think it's normal to tighten muscles when stressing them. My solution is to consciously relax any muscles that doesn't need to be tightened when it comes to my attention. Learning to do that naturally is slow going, alas, but it helps.
You just saved me 150 bucks. My son wears five tens on his mtb.

Glad others seem to know exactly what I was talking about, so it's not just me.
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Old 07-07-19, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post

Toes - they are never in the drive path. They should never be tight. Now, neither rollers nor the fix gear will solve tight toes. That is, as the OP has learned, an inside job; ie inside the head. Tell those toes to relax! As many times as it takes for them to learn. And be patient. They don't listen much better than 2 year olds.

Ben
This advice is good across the board--57 years of skiing and I still need to remind the two year olds to relax on occasion.
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Old 07-09-19, 10:50 AM
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I posted here on this same issue during a winter snowride a few years back. I clenched my toes so muchmy first two toes were bruised. When riding a hard and fast road TT I dont have that problem. Since then I have disciplined myself to relax my feet and let the shoes and pedals take the strain.
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Old 07-11-19, 02:31 PM
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I keep telling myself - flat feet, flat feet .....
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Old 07-16-19, 11:42 AM
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I was having a toe clenching issue (to the point of getting cramps) and I was thinking I needed different pedals until I read something somewhere which made all the difference...ymmv. someone posted that on platforms your weight should be on the big toe and big toe joint on the downward rotation (not just there, but primarily). I realized I was pressing down more with the other toes and outer part of my foot, which caused the clenching. so - maybe try to focus on your downstroke on keeping the foot aligned so the effort goes through the big toe and joint and see if that helps. If it doesn't, it costs you nothing =).
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Old 07-16-19, 11:48 AM
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This is a new one on me....your probably clenching because you are not getting the support you need from your running shoes. Have you tried something with a stiffer sole?
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Old 07-16-19, 01:22 PM
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Don't pedal primarily on the balls of your feet with platforms. Bad ergonomics.

I've had foot problems since childhood -- long, narrow, bony feet with high arches. I still struggle with painful spasms, primarily in the arches but occasionally the legs. In fact I have a bruise on my shoulder blade from spasms in my feet and legs after a long ride Sunday. I stood up, suddenly had multiple muscles spasms and flopped on the floor to roll around simultaneously hollering and laughing, and bruised my shoulder blade in the process. I take supplements, good diet, hydration, blah-blah-blah, but for some folks nothing is guaranteed to prevent painful muscle spasms.

Anyway, ergonomics...

My road bikes have clipless. I need the rigid sole shoes to support my feet. And the spinning technique distributes effort more evenly. I don't pull up on the pedals often, maybe occasionally for short, steep climbs while standing to stomp uphill. But spinning as evenly as possible minimizes muscle spasms. I set my cleats as far back as they'll go, so my weight is behind the ball of the foot but not quite to the arch. I'd be happier if the cleats had more room to move back.

Huge improvement over the 1970s practice with toe clips and cleated Detto Pietros. Back then they insisted on centering the cleats over the balls of the feet. I had pretty much the same problems then in my teens and 20s -- sudden painful muscle spasms, and long term shin splints.

My hybrids wear platforms. I get the biggest platforms I can find for cheap -- around $15-$20 for Stolen Brand Thermolites. I shift my feet around as needed for comfort and efficiency. Occasionally I'll shift to the balls of my feet, but mostly I ride with the pedal axles under my arches.

I'm about to switch to iSSi Stomp or comparable ergo platforms. The Stolen Brand Thermolites are good cheap pedals for getting the hang of larger platforms, but aren't designed to be serviced. Now that I know I want larger platforms for my hybrids, I'll spend a little more for good pedals that can be serviced.

Bigger platform, better weight/pressure distribution, no need for special shoes. But the Five Tens are good shoes.

Last edited by canklecat; 07-16-19 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 07-17-19, 12:48 PM
  #13  
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My pinky toes are always clenched now, and the toes next to them (fourth) are a bit clenched, too. Podiatrist says it's arthritis.

Just throwing it out there.
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