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Ankle stability on the bike

Old 06-17-20, 06:04 AM
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Nomad2
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Ankle stability on the bike

Hi all, has anyone else out there experienced instability in their ankle in that you canít hold the ankle from flexing during the pedal stroke? Iím 52 years old and I have had this issue on my left leg on and off at times for months. Probably a fatigue thing. I mentioned it to my physio when I was there for something else and he kind of shrugged it off. Now, some months after I first noticed it, Iím having troubles with Achilles tendonitis (mid-tendon) on this leg. It first showed up a couple of months ago, Iíve gradually got back to normal riding and now just had a relapse. Iíve been prescribed using a foam roller on the calves and doing calf raises.

The left leg is weaker than the right, particularly noticeable in the quads & glutes and had been doing a lot of squats & lunges prior to this to improve things. Also was planning on doing some single leg work on a the stationary bike but hadnít gotten around to it.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or similar experiences you might have.
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Old 06-17-20, 09:14 AM
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Can't hold the ankle from flexing in which direction?

My ankles flex upwards and downwards significantly at different cadences and intensities (I ride with my seat slightly lower than most), but doesn't roll from side to side very much.
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Old 06-17-20, 12:55 PM
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Put your feet further forward on the pedals. It'll feel very odd till you get used to it. If your shoes have too much flex in them, then find something better for riding. IMO.

You might need to lower your seat some. When you are pedaling correctly, the ankle shouldn't move much at all. If you are having problems with you ankle wobbling side to side and you are using SPD cleats, then maybe an spd pedal with a little bit of platform around it may help.

If you truly have weak muscles around your feet and ankle, then see a gym or physical therapist. I feel that in general, strength training is better done off the bike.
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Old 06-17-20, 03:03 PM
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Your doctor probably shrugged it off due to a lack of specialist knowledge. See a foot and ankle doctor.
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Old 06-19-20, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Can't hold the ankle from flexing in which direction?

My ankles flex upwards and downwards significantly at different cadences and intensities (I ride with my seat slightly lower than most), but doesn't roll from side to side very much.
Sorry, I should have explained. Not so noticeably sideways. I realise that there's upwards and downward flexing but I'm more talking about uncontrolled excessive movement. I feel like I have little control over my ankle joint when it happens.
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Old 06-19-20, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Put your feet further forward on the pedals. It'll feel very odd till you get used to it. If your shoes have too much flex in them, then find something better for riding. IMO.

You might need to lower your seat some. When you are pedaling correctly, the ankle shouldn't move much at all. If you are having problems with you ankle wobbling side to side and you are using SPD cleats, then maybe an spd pedal with a little bit of platform around it may help.

If you truly have weak muscles around your feet and ankle, then see a gym or physical therapist. I feel that in general, strength training is better done off the bike.
Thanks. Yes I'm tempted to move my cleats but my physiotherapist reckons I should be working on strengthening exercises and keep the more efficient cleat position. I'll keep that as a possibility if I relapse again though.
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Old 06-19-20, 07:51 AM
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I don't feel bikes are the proper place for strength training. So I might disagree with your physiotherapist, unless your riding is limited to 30 minute sessions or less.

As for where you cleat is currently, You've not said. So I can only say, the more forward the cleat, the more unstable the foot and more work your calf and ankle muscles will have to do in order to keep the foot stable.

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...leat-position/

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitnes...orrectly-23575

Too far back and you might loose some of the smoothness a slight movement of your ankle adds to the pedal stroke. However I don't really think I've owned a pair of shoes that would allow me to move the cleat so far back that would be a real problem. It's more that it just feels so odd to so many that won't give themselves sufficient time to get used to it.

Certainly I'm not saying rearward is best and everyone must do it. However neither is it good to have your cleat too far forward and your muscles not being able to control and stabilize your foot for an hour or more riding. Certainly your physiotherapist wouldn't have you doing any other repetition for that long a time if it was actually hurting you.
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Old 06-19-20, 03:38 PM
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I recommend hiking, preferably on rocky trails. That's how I've rehabbed lower extremity weaknesses. If those aren't available, try lots of walking. When you can walk or hike say 4 miles no problem, then try calf raises on a stair, full range of motion. Start with both legs together, progress to single leg calf raises. I wouldn't move your cleats. Your problem is weakness. Hiding from weakness only allows it to continue. Better to strengthen.

I see you have a PT. They should be able to help you a lot more than we can. Although squats and lunges certainly aren't what I'd prescribe for ankle weakness. Bosu ball would be more like it. You just do what this woman does, you'll be fine:
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Old 06-19-20, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
I recommend hiking, preferably on rocky trails. That's how I've rehabbed lower extremity weaknesses. If those aren't available, try lots of walking. When you can walk or hike say 4 miles no problem, then try calf raises on a stair, full range of motion. Start with both legs together, progress to single leg calf raises. I wouldn't move your cleats. Your problem is weakness. Hiding from weakness only allows it to continue. Better to strengthen.

I see you have a PT. They should be able to help you a lot more than we can. Although squats and lunges certainly aren't what I'd prescribe for ankle weakness. Bosu ball would be more like it. You just do what this woman does, you'll be fine:
Thanks. Squats and lunges were for weakness in the glutes and quads. That whole side was stuffed up a bit. Firstly I had an ACL reconstruction on the knee a 25 years ago. It involved a patella tendon graft and the quads were never the same after that. 8 or so years ago I started getting hip pain on that side. Was diagnosed with osteoarthritis though I think this was overblown. I haven't been diligent and had prioritised maintaining my riding at the expense of diligent training of the muscles around the joint. I recent months have put more work in and have got back a little strength in the left side. The left side has been difficult for lunges largely because of the weak ankle not the hip. The hip is hardly bothering me now. I'm now trying a compression sleeve on my ankle as I recover....

Have done a bit of hiking before. Wouldn't mind doing some more.
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Old 06-19-20, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I don't feel bikes are the proper place for strength training. So I might disagree with your physiotherapist, unless your riding is limited to 30 minute sessions or less.

As for where you cleat is currently, You've not said. So I can only say, the more forward the cleat, the more unstable the foot and more work your calf and ankle muscles will have to do in order to keep the foot stable.

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...leat-position/

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitnes...orrectly-23575

Too far back and you might loose some of the smoothness a slight movement of your ankle adds to the pedal stroke. However I don't really think I've owned a pair of shoes that would allow me to move the cleat so far back that would be a real problem. It's more that it just feels so odd to so many that won't give themselves sufficient time to get used to it.

Certainly I'm not saying rearward is best and everyone must do it. However neither is it good to have your cleat too far forward and your muscles not being able to control and stabilize your foot for an hour or more riding. Certainly your physiotherapist wouldn't have you doing any other repetition for that long a time if it was actually hurting you.
Thanks for the feedback. Fair point about the riding. I must have pushed it too hard. I will look into the cleats as well. I still have scope to move the cleats back.
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Old 06-20-20, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Nomad2 View Post
Thanks. Yes I'm tempted to move my cleats but my physiotherapist reckons I should be working on strengthening exercises and keep the more efficient cleat position. I'll keep that as a possibility if I relapse again though.
PTs always say that ... because it's almost always right. But in the meantime you should still be able to ride unless it's exacerbating the issue.

I moved my cleats back a couple years ago and find it to be an improvement.

Single leg deadlifts are great for ankle strength/stability, and balance in general. You can do them with body weight and get 99% of the benefit. But your PT probably has exercises specific to your condition, so trust him or her over us.
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Old 06-20-20, 09:02 PM
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I recommend also specific exercises for strengthening ankles and feet. Any dancer you know will be able to give you tips; there are also videos from both dancers and physios online: https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...+strengthening
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