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Welcome and thanks for visiting the VeloFit Revolution blog.  I'm Eric Bowen, the owner of VeloFit Revolution at  Revolution Bike Shop , located in the north san diego county coastal city of Solana Beach, CA. To learn more about my services, please use the navigation links at the top of the page.   

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Wednesday
Jun132012

Bike Fit - Pain, Discomfort and Injuries: Feet and Legs 

Below is a list of common aches and pains related to bike fit, and simple things you can do to alleviate the problem(s).  I’ll be covering the rest of the body in future articles.

Many of these aches and pains have been addressed in far greater detail in some of my previous articles, which are all located in the archive section located in the right hand column. This list is not meant to provide detailed solutions/instructions, but rather serve as a quick reference. I am not a medical doctor and the following should not be construed as medical advice. If you are in acute pain, please see your doctor for treatment.

You may have multiple fitting issues that are causing several different problems, so it can be a bit of a challenge to figure out exactly what is causing pain or an injury. If you live in Southern California, especially the San Diego area, you may want to come see me for professional help with getting rid of your discomfort and remaining pain free.

Foot and/or toe pain/numbness 

  • You could be pushing big gears with a low cadence (RPMs – revolutions per minute), especially when climbing, so you’ll want to work toward spinning lower gears and increasing your cadence above 75 RPMs (80+ would be better). 
  • You could have too much pressure across the ball of your foot, so you may need to do any of the following: 1) move the cleat back; or 2) you may even need to move the cleat forward (less likely, but possible); 3) you may need to switch to shoes with either a harder or softer sole; and 4) you could need wedges installed in your shoe or between your shoe and cleat. 
  • Your shoes could simply be too tight or too short, so you may need better fitting shoes. 

Ankle 

  • The rotation on your cleats may be set for too much “toe in” or “toe out” rotation, so you may need to adjust the rotation of your cleat to a more neutral position. 
  • You may need improved foot/knee/hip alignment, so you could need wedges installed in your shoes or between your shoes and cleats. 
  • Many ankle issues can also be attributed to the same things that cause Achilles problems (see below). 

Achilles Tendon 

  • You could be pushing big gears with a low cadence (RPMs – revolutions per minute), especially when climbing, so you’ll want to work toward spinning lower gears and increasing your cadence to a least 75 RPMs (80+ would be better). 
  • Your cleat may be too far forward on the shoe, so you’ll want to move it back. 
  • You may have a tight Achilles from cold weather, so you’ll want to make sure you keep your lower legs covered. 
  • You may have a saddle that is too high, so you’ll want to lower it so that your knee angle (flexion) at the bottom of the pedal stroke is between 30 – 40 degrees. 

Knee (outside/IT band area) 

  • You could have your cleats set so that your toes are pointing inward (“pigeon toed”), so you’ll want to change the rotation of the cleat to allow more “heel in” movement. 
  • Your saddle could be too high, so you may need to lower it.   Knee angle (flexion) should be in the range of 30-40 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke. 
  • Your stance width may be too narrow, so you’ll want to widen your feet on the pedals by doing any of the following: 1) move the cleats laterally, toward the inside edge of the shoe; 2) add 2mm of pedal washers between the crank arm and pedal; 3) add pedal extenders (aka “knee savers) between the crank arm and pedal; 4) change to pedals with a longer spindle; or 5) change to a crankset with a wider Q-factor. 
  • You may need improved foot/knee/hip alignment, so you could need wedges installed in your shoes or between your shoes and cleats (might only be needed on one side). 
  • Your cleats could be worn, so you’ll want to replace them with new ones. 
  • You could have a leg length difference, so you’ll need to add a shim to cleat/shoe on the short side (it’s best to have this confirmed by a professional fitter with experience in this area). 

Knee (front and/or top area) 

  • You may have a saddle that is too low, so you’ll want to raise it so that your knee angle (flexion) is the range of 30-40 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke. 
  • You could be pushing big gears with a low cadence (RPMs – revolutions per minute), especially when climbing, so you’ll want to work toward spinning lower gears and increasing your cadence above 75 RPMs (80+ would be better). 
  • You could have your seat too far forward, so you may need to move it rearward. 
  • If you have a short inseam, you may have a crank length that is too long, so you may need shorter cranks. 

Knee pain (inside area) 

  • You could have your cleats set so that your toes are pointing out (“duck toed”), so you’ll want to change the rotation of the cleat to allow more “heel out” movement. 
  • Your cleats could be worn, so you’ll want to replace them with new ones. 
  • The release tension could be too hard, or require too much heel out rotation to disengage the pedals, so you may need to do any of the following: 1) if the pedals have adjustable tension, lower the release tension; 2) lubricate the pedals and/or cleats; 3) change the release angle for less heel out rotation; or 4) replace worn cleats (especially Speedplay). 
  • You may have a saddle that is too low, so you’ll want to raise it so that your knee angle (flexion) at the bottom of the pedal stroke is in the range of 30 – 40 degrees. 
  • Your stance width may be too wide, so you’ll want to narrow your feet on the pedals by doing any of the following: 1) move the cleats laterally, toward the outside of the shoe; 2) switch to pedals with a shorter spindle length; 3) switch to a crankset with a narrower Q-factor. 
  • You may need improved foot/knee/hip alignment, so you could need wedges installed in your shoes or between your shoes and cleats (might only be needed on one side). 

Knee (back side) 

  • You may have a saddle that is too high, so you’ll want to lower it so that your knee angle (flexion) is in the range of 30-40 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke. 
  • Your saddle may be too far rearward, so you’ll want to move it forward. 
  • You may have too much float in your pedals, so you may want to change to cleats and/or pedals that limit float to around 5 degrees. 
  • Your cleats could be worn, so you’ll want to replace them with new ones. 
  • Hamstring weakness and/or tightness can also lead to soreness on the back side of the knees, so you may want to improve your hamstring flexibility and/or strengthen this muscle group. 

In my next article I’ll be reviewing aches and pains caused by poor bike fit related to issues involving the buttocks and back. 

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