Just about every cyclist has one goal - go further, faster. There are lots of ways to get there, but after you've trained hard and dropped weight from your bike, you have to focus on the one thing that really matters - biomechanics.
Bike biomechanics are a lot of different factors that come together to bring you and your bike into perfect harmony. They include:
Our focus is on the point-of-contact positioning piece of bike biomechanics, which is where the pedal meets your foot and cycling shoe. This is where small changes can make a big difference.
Cycling shoes rely on a snug fit and a stiff sole to transmit power from your foot to your bike. Cleated shoes minimize wasted energy between your shoe and the pedal. But, is the connection between your foot and your shoe as efficient as it could be?
Cycling puts a tremendous amount of force on a small area of your foot (mainly the ball of the foot), especially on longer rides. All this force, over and over again, can lead to common conditions like:
Stiff soles help to spread the force, but without a supportive insole, much of the stress will still be on the ball of your foot. If you're spending a couple hours pedaling, that can add up to a lot of stress.
Ever wonder how many times you actually spin your pedals on a longer ride?
Do the math: a 2-hour ride at a cadence (pedal revolutions/minute) of 85
2 (hours) x 60 (minutes) x 85 (cadence) = 10,200 pedal revolutions.
Yikes! With such a highly repetitive activity, no wonder your feet get sore, especially if you're just working with that flimsy, flat, foam insole that came in your cycling shoe. Your feet need to be properly supported to withstand the pressure you put on them during your ride. Adding firm arch support insoles for cycling can make all the difference.
As Cycling Performance Engineer Martin Choo and Podiatrist Nathan White put it, cycling insoles "support the foot, increase stability and improve knee alignment by providing a stable platform through the pedal stroke."
They continue, "with each pedal stroke, the support of an insole alters the dynamics of the foot pronation, which subsequently reduces the amount of "wobble" in the knees, thereby improving alignment and efficiency."
Improved alignment and efficiency aren't the only benefit you get from adding insoles for cycling to your cleats. Other ways cycling insoles can help include:
In addition to all these benefits, what may be even more important is what cycling footbeds can do help you avoid injury. According to Physiopedia, "the foot has many small joints but primarily this is where the force that is generated from the lower limb complex is transferred to the pedal. Irregular amounts of force or compression running through the foot can result in neural pain and tissue damage from compression."
Now that it's clear how much of a positive difference cycling insoles can make, the next step is figuring out which ones are right for you.
There are two types of orthotics: custom-made orthopedic insoles and over-the-counter insoles. Custom insoles are prescribed by a podiatrist or other medical professional and can be very expensive. Over-the-counter insoles are available without a prescription.
The truth is, for most people, custom orthotics are not necessary. Dr. Richard Braver, a Sports Podiatrist and Doctor of Podiatric Medicine says, custom-made orthotics should be a last option. Over-the-counter insoles should be the go-to unless you have diabetes or serious biomechanical issues and recurring injuries that aren't addressed with over-the-counter versions.
What's really important when you're selecting insoles for cycling is understanding all the available options so you know which is best for you.
Insoles are like bikes. They need to fit well and provide support to your arch that is firm enough to efficiently turn your power into speed. And they need to be purpose built.
Think about it this way. Taking a full-suspension mountain bike out on a long road ride is rough because it's not built for road speed. As Pedorthist Graham Archer points out, "orthotics that are designed for cycling are quite different than those designed for running or walking. Since the primary point of contact is the forefoot, the hindfoot of the orthotics will be very low profile."
He continues, "materials used in cycling orthotics are generally very light and on the stiffer side." With that in mind, when you're thinking about buying insoles for your bike shoes, look for ones that:
You've spent a few bucks on your ride and whether you're racking up the miles or hitting shorter distances, you know how important comfortable feet are. Make your ride even better by adding a pair of insoles to your cycling shoes and see how much further you can go.
Questions? Drop us a line at email@example.com. We're here to help.
Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.
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by Mark Paigen 6 min read