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Cleat Positioning = sore knees and feet

Old 10-22-07, 07:00 PM
  #1  
DirtPedalerB
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Cleat Positioning = sore knees and feet

OK recently tried cliless pedals and now after a 20 mile ride my knees hurt and the bottom of my feet hurt... I have the cleats pretty much in the middle of the available positions and would like to know where I should try to move them too.. I'm thinking forward, but I don't know.

I think I had them pretty far forward to begin with and moved them to about the middle... is there any science on cleat position? where do you guys have them toward the back toward the front?? I'm sure it's going to be a lame ... just whatever works for you answer... but just tell me what you prefer.

looking at my shoes now I have the cleats in the forward 2 holes with the plate all the way back .. and left and right is in the center as well
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Old 10-22-07, 07:05 PM
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It seems like you would want your feet farther back to avoid shock on your knees but that is just my thought. I like my cleats about as far up as they go
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Old 10-22-07, 07:31 PM
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thanks amber, I was thinking the ball of your foot lined up on the spindle would be corect, but that's how it is now and it hurts...
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Old 10-22-07, 09:54 PM
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Play with it. I have two ever so slightly different positions, one for each foot. If I match them up the right foot goes a little tingly/numb on the longer rides.
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Old 10-22-07, 10:00 PM
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It's really impossible to make any good suggestions without seeing you on a bike, other than just try lots of different positions. Try riding your bike with platform pedals again and pay attention to where your foot naturally positions itself.
For the knee issues, play around with saddle height and fore-aft position (use a weighted line at the front of your knee, with pedals in the 3 and 9 positions, the line should go through the pedal axle. Or at least this is a good place to start). Also stretch and work on your IT band. Everything is connected down there, so if something is tight it can pull everything out of whack.
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Old 10-23-07, 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Fable View Post
Play with it. I have two ever so slightly different positions, one for each foot. If I match them up the right foot goes a little tingly/numb on the longer rides.
Yes, play with it. I placed the cleat underneath the ball of my foot, and that seems to work for me, but everyone is different.

Also, you want enough side-to-side play so that your knees aren't locked into one angle. Not enough freedom can cause knee problems. Shoes that aren't stiff enough can cause arch pain, although if its minor your foot may strengthen up to it.
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Old 10-23-07, 06:38 AM
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you may have to raise your seat a lil' bit due to the increased stack height in some clipless systems ie. your feet will be a little higher as they relate to the spindle and this could cause some knee pain from the increased knee bend angle at the top of your pedal stroke. You don't say which pedals you are running so this is just another wild guess.
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Old 10-23-07, 07:38 AM
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Try searching this subject on the road bike forums as well...

But I think if your knee hurts on the outside of the knee (knee cap area) then you will want to adjust the hieght of the seat. If it's in the back of the knee then it may be the fore and aft positioning of the seat (ie move it forward or back some).

As for foot pain... I had a similar siiuation and I needed to move my cleat back a hair as the ball of my foot was just slightly ahead of the center of the spindle. Adjusting the cleat back helped to line up my foot with the spindle.

But as everyone said, everyone is different so try adjusting things one at a time to see if any one thing helps or doesn't.

If worse comes to worse, go get fitted by a good bike shop. They'll be able to dial in your position for a pain free ride.

Good luck!
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Old 10-23-07, 08:02 AM
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You want your knees to move inline with your toes and saddle height can also play a roll in sore knees if it is to low or even to high.

If you have your cleats positioned so the heals are straight back or slightly angled outwards causing the toes to point forward or inward but the natural movement of your knees moves outward then you will be putting a lot of stress on them. Same goes if you do it the other way.

What someone showed my many many moons ago;
1) stand completely relaxed, feet directly beneath you and your head straight forward,
2) jump straight up.
3) When you land do not move your feet, take a look at them.

That is how they "should" be positioned on the pedals. If toes are angled out then angle them out on the pedals same goes if they are angled inwards. No need to angle them the same degree as when you landed but just enough so you feel comfortable when riding.

You should also have the cleat positioned as close to center side to side as possible or a hair towards the inner portion of the foot. The cleat should also be inline with the ball of the foot or as close to that as you can get but definitely not in front of it or all the way behind it.

Hope that helps get you goin'.

DBD
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Old 10-23-07, 08:50 AM
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Wait a minute everybody. What type of pedals is the OP using? He could need more float, a change in Q-factor or a change in technique. My guess would be a combination of all of these things.

Some adjustments are not available in certain pedals. For instance you can buy an "advanced cleat" for crank brothers that effectively allows you to change the Q-Factor on the shoe. Not all pedals allow for such lateral adjustments.
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Old 10-23-07, 09:51 AM
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My experience going to clipless on my commuter bike a few years back was that the first week killed my knees and it turned out to be a combination of saddle height, position of the saddle on the rails and cleat position. Clipless pedals/shoes lock you into a limited range or motion so you need to be sure that range is one that suits you before you start messing with the cleats.

I found that pain in the front of my knee meant that the saddle was too low, pain in the back of my knee meant it was too high. Once I got that sorted out I found that there was still some pain in the outside of my knee so I moved the cleat sideways toward the inside of the shoe so that my foot would move further away from the bike, this cleared up that pain and I have had them in that position for a couple years.
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Old 10-23-07, 09:52 AM
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I second or third the suggestions that you check your seat height - if you haven't done so already. It sounds like it may be a bit low. Lots of other good suggestions here, but pics would really help. Good luck!
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Old 10-23-07, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by BearSquirrel View Post
Wait a minute everybody. What type of pedals is the OP using? He could need more float, a change in Q-factor or a change in technique. My guess would be a combination of all of these things.

Some adjustments are not available in certain pedals. For instance you can buy an "advanced cleat" for crank brothers that effectively allows you to change the Q-Factor on the shoe. Not all pedals allow for such lateral adjustments.


Sorry for the newb question but what is Q-factor. I am still playing with my M520s and so far no pain. I do however have a hard time getting my left shoe to pop out. I am trying to make some adjustments to make this easier
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Old 10-23-07, 10:49 AM
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Knowing where the knee is hurting would help in providing suggestions for changes in setup. As other posters have indicated, it could be more than just the position of the cleat causing the knee pain.
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Old 10-23-07, 05:00 PM
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My pedals are shimano m520 cheapos and I have Time mxt shoes.. not sure if I can angle the cleats with these shoes. The knee pain was at the top of the knee and possibly toward the inside... I may have just overdone it on that ride, I'll have to try again on my "home" trail. The bumps in the trail were killer on the soles of my feet though. I think I am going to move the cleat more toward my arch to hopefully spread the load better.
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Old 10-29-07, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by 01amberfirewv View Post
It seems like you would want your feet farther back to avoid shock on your knees but that is just my thought. I like my cleats about as far up as they go
Vertically, (front to back) you want the cleat exactly on the ball of your foot. This is the pivot point for walking so you will be naturally placing your pivot where you're used to it. Moving it towards the toe will put extra stress on the ankle. Moving it back will decrease your range of motion.

Laterally (side to side) is a experiment (if this is even possible). And likely depends on the width of your hips. You can use the lateral cleat position to change your Q-Factor.

For the original poster ... you want to make sure that you are expressing your pedaling force in a straight line. Not only will this maximize the for your expressing, but it will also keep you from twisting your knee. If you are naturally pigeon toed or duck footed (me) then this takes some stretching and some concentration to get things right. After I corrected my leg position in the cycling stroke, all my knee pain disappeared.
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Old 10-29-07, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by 01amberfirewv View Post
Sorry for the newb question but what is Q-factor. I am still playing with my M520s and so far no pain. I do however have a hard time getting my left shoe to pop out. I am trying to make some adjustments to make this easier
Q-Factor is the lateral positioning of the foot. "Common knowledge" has it that narrower Q-Factor are better. I think it should match the width of you hips or be slightly wider as this allows the knee to bend inward as it is naturally supposed to do (according to my PT sister). So the pedal stroke should be down and slightly away from the body. This is just my conjecture and I want to make it clear as such.
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Old 10-29-07, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by DirtPedalerB View Post
is there any science on cleat position?
It's not rocket science buddy.
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Old 10-29-07, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mcoine View Post
It's not rocket science buddy.
Thanks Champ!




For info I moved my cleats back and raised the seat and it seems to be ok. I did a 20 mile dirt road ride and wasn't sore... next I'll try the trail.

thanks for the suggestions all.
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Old 10-30-07, 04:08 PM
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look at you knees as you ride. imagine you have a rubber band across them keeping them from spreading outward when you pedal. as stated before you want your knees to be a nice even stroke up and down and not side to side.
I was having pain in the same area and by relearning my pedal stroke it alleviated it. my bike, pedals, cleats, seat , all of it was setup optimum. a guy I was riding with noticed my pedal stroke was up and out then down and in and said" you might get more power going up and down" it made my knees hurt less too.
the pain in my feet was to much give in the hole where the cleat plate sits. a stiffer pair of shoes fixed that too
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