Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Cycling Series: Foot pain

They're not the prettiest parts of our body, but they are pretty useful!  Our feet come in various shapes and sizes and they can change over time.  This is dependant not only on our genetics, but also on our footwear, our occupations, hobbies, injury and pregnancy.

Foot pain can plague cyclists, particularly on longer rides. Your feet are a key contact point on the bike and there are various reasons why pain may occur. Propelling the pedals requires the transfer of power down the legs, through the feet and into the pedals, therefore much force goes through this area.  Symptoms may occur in different parts of the foot, but commonly cyclists report a hot, burning sensation under the balls of their feet, aptly nick named 'hot foot' in the cycling community.  This is often due to compression of nerves between the heads of the long metatarsal bones at the widest part of the foot. 

Reasons that foot pain may occur in cyclists include:
  • Cleat position: pain in the forefoot may be alleviated by setting the cleat further back, allowing for greater pressure distribution through the pedals. Sometimes just a few millimetres can make a difference.
  • Cleat shape: cleats with a wider platform may help to improve pressure distribution through the forefoot.
  • Footwear 
    • Shoes too tight - try wider shoes so there is less compression of the forefoot. 
    • Shoes too flexible or inflexible.  Every foot is different and some people will need stiffer shoes with more support than others. Speak to a cycling specialist to discover what is most suitable for you. 
    • Socks - thin bony feet may need thicker socks for padding the ball of the foot; bigger feet may benefit from thinner socks and more room.  On hotter days, thinner socks may allow for more room when your feet swell, therefore have a range of socks for riding in different temperatures. 
    • Lack of foot support: Insoles may help pressure distribution by complementing and enhancing the foots natural arches. 
  • Saddle height - if too low or too high there may be an increase in pressure through the forefoot and / or ankle joint. 

If you have foot pain when you are cycling, stop and let your feet cool down.  Elevating your legs can help swollen feet recover quicker. Ensure the strap on your shoes is not too tight. Make sure that you are well hydrated.

Physiotherapy can help to:
  • mobilise the metatarsals that may have become stiff and inflamed
  • mobilise the neural system 
  • strengthen your foot and ankle
  • address biomechanical issues that may contribute to an altered position on your bike
If in doubt, please call for advise. Physiotherapy treatment will usually speed up recovery and get you back on your bike a lot quicker than an untreated injury.

The purpose of this blog, is to provide general information and educational material relating to physiotherapy and injury management. Bonne Santé physiotherapy has made every effort to provide you with correct, up-to-date information. In using this blog, you agree that information is provided 'as is, as available', without warranty and that you use the information at your own risk. We recommend that you seek advise from a fitness or healthcare professional if you require further advice relating to exercise or medical issues. 
We recommend seeking advise from a healthcare or fitness professional when starting new exercises. 

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1 comment:

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