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Old 05-28-09, 05:00 AM   #1
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pedalling with dropped heels - bad idea ?

Hello all.
After experimenting with different types of pedalling techniques (I'm a roadie), it seems to
me that the most efficient for me, especially while climbing, which is a discipline in which I don't
really excel (and therefore need to improve...) is letting the heel drop while pushing the pedal down, and while relaxing the calf muscle of the leg that pushes down, which makes the foot feel rather
passive, and on the down motion of the leg the heel is dropped and the toes are pointing up.
As far as I can tell, this is not like 'Ankling', because here the calves don't push during the downstroke, but rather remain passive.
I do have a concern with this technique however: it appears to put quite a bit of load on the
Achilles tendon while pushing down, especially at the beginning of the down motion, where the
heel starts to be pushed down, there seems to be a certain impact at that point.
I am a little worried that I may damage that tendon (or anything else), even though
after finishing rides where I pedal this way, my legs feel actually real good, like after a good
Does this technique sound familiar to anyone ?
Any opinions as to whether it might cause any damages ?
Thanks a lot.
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Old 05-28-09, 07:26 AM   #2
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I do it when I ned to stretch my calf, or just as a change. I generally try to avoid pedalling with my toes pointed down.
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Old 05-28-09, 10:58 AM   #3
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"Heels down, pedal round" is the old adage. I've been doing exactly as you say for many years. It is the most efficient. It's always more efficient to relax as many muscles as possible. Plus your leg is more efficient on the downstroke because your shin is closer to the pedal axle with heel down.

For a little added power, just after performing the mud scraping action at the bottom of the stroke, then drop your toe, pushing the pedal behind you and preparing to drag the pedal up by the heel of your shoe. The tricky spot is the transition, as you raise your toe at the top, preparing for the kicking forward part of the stroke with heel dropped. 50 cadence one-legged pedaling will help perfect the mechanics.

So I'm saying don't drop the heel at the start of the downstroke, drop it before the top of the stroke. No impact.

It won't damage your Achilles. Probably good for it. Achilles damage comes primarily from shock loads, like missing a step when running. Some people develop overuse injuries to that tendon, but I think they stem from not relaxing the calf.
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Old 05-29-09, 02:59 PM   #4
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wow great advice carbonfiberboy, I always knew I was doing something right.
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Old 05-29-09, 06:55 PM   #5
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If you can pedal with your heal down at the bottom of the stroke, your seat isn't high enough and you are cheating yourself with power by not getting a full extension plus the more your legs are bent, the more pressure is on your knees. At the bottom of the pedal stroke, your heels should be level.
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Old 05-29-09, 08:02 PM   #6
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heel position at bottom of the stroke varies, some pros have their foot level, so have their heel a bit up. Watch the Pros, none of them have their seat too high, making their hips rock from side to side as they feet hit the bottom of the stroke.
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Old 05-31-09, 10:03 PM   #7
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As for seat position, I've heard that leaving 25-30 degrees in the knee at extension is most sustainable. Extending more can supposedly be hard on the hamstrings. Also, just because you can extend your leg more doesn't make it more efficient. Muscles have ranges of effective and powerful movement that are far less than the range of motion for the joints they cross.
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Old 06-03-09, 05:53 PM   #8
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Everyone has a natural pedaling motion. I doubt it's necessarily perfect but I wouldn't deviate from that tremendously.
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