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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The importance of getting your shoes properly fitted...

And yes that is a plug for our services, be it choosing shoes, getting custom insoles or getting your cleats perfectly aligned!

We take shoe sizing seriously, and for that reason we stock SIDI, Specialized, Bontrager, Giro, Bont and Northwave shoes. Each has a different last and sizing philosophy

People that are new to cycling often buy cycling shoes that are a size too big as they are used to having more room in their training shoes. I have also seen people that have wide feet, but who like the look of narrow Italian shoes, go for a size bigger to compensate. This can lead to issues with correctly positioning the cleat on the shoe.

Cleat placement fore/aft is very important because it affects which part of the foot is loaded during the power stroke. If the cleat is too far forward, you will load the toes which can often lead to reduced power production and increased strain to lower leg muscles. To gain maximum leverage without loading the toes, I position cleats so that the pedal axle lies under the first and second metatarsals (balls of the foot). This is the same part of the foot you would load during a hop.

I am looking for the forces to run a straight through down through the foot and create a straight line of force that could be drawn through the middle of the knee, middle of the ankle and 2nd metatarsal (base of the second toe). Concentrating on pushing through the second ball of the foot and relaxing your toes helps this process. Pushing through the first ball of the foot causes the line of force to track towards the inside and can cause pronation (dropping of the arch of the foot).

When shoe manufacturers design shoes, they drill the cleat holes roughly where the balls of the feet should be for that size of foot. If you use a pair of shoes that are a size big, the cleat holes will be further forward, which often makes it harder to correctly position the cleat.

In the same way that people have different distribution of length between the legs and the body, people have differently proportioned feet (long toes and short metatarsals vs. short toes and long metatarsals). It is especially important for people with long toes and short metatarsals to not use shoes that are too big as the balls of the feet are already further back.

Cycling shoes should be snug. When trying shoes on in the shop, you don’t want to have your toes against the end of the shoes or the sides uncomfortably squeezing the feet. But visa versa, you don’t want the shoes to feel roomy. Hold the back of the shoe and check that your heel doesn’t move when you pull up. If you know that you have wide feet, try something like a Northwave, while Sidi will suit a narrower foot.

Sometimes it’s impossible to perfectly position the cleat fore and aft due to abnormal distribution of foot length or strange placement of the cleat holes. If the cleat is within 5mm of optimal, I would normally leave it where it is. More than this, I’d be looking to use an adaptor plate or drill new cleat bolt holes.

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