A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Energy has to be delivered from the legs, core, and upper body down through the foot and ankle to the pedal. If the foot is over-pronated or collapses, a significant share of that energy will go into flattening the arch of the foot. This is a large “mush” factor that creates inefficient pedal power.
The goal of cycling is to deliver as much force as you can efficiently and effectively from the body to the pedal to turn the rear wheel. To do this, your body must work together with the bike to deliver power to the pedals with as little “energy leaks” as possible.
The body does everything it can to produce a consistent and efficient force to the pedals. Poor bike fit, as well as body imbalances, can drastically affect this.
The contact point between the deliveries of the body’s force to the bike is at the pedal/shoe interface. Everything the body does amounts to force produced on this one point of contact. Energy can easily be lost at this link in the chain if force is being delivered through an unlocked, too-flexible foot. Due to compensations for poor biomechanics, tissues can be overstretched or stressed, creating injury and pain anywhere along the chain—i.e. foot, ankle knee, hip, and low back. A fully supportive and corrective orthotic in the shoe translates into a more rigid foot and transfer of power from the foot to the pedal. (=potential for you to ride faster longer and stronger=yeehaw!)
Cycling-specific custom orthotics have been found to reduce pain, improve economy, postural stability, and improve pressure distribution while on the bike. Cycling should not elicit joint pain. If you experience foot, ankle, knee, hip or low back pain while on the bike, have your bike fit and body mechanics evaluated. Custom orthotics can play a significant role in improving full foot stability for efficient pedaling and lower extremity alignment, minimizing injury potential and optimizing performance.
Dr. Pete Scher, DC, CCEP