Why Do I Need Cleat Wedges?

ForeFoot Tilt

One of the most important and overlooked aspects in bike fittings is the tilt and angle of the forefoot.  Studies show that 96% of all cyclists are misaligned in their connection to the bicycle, decreasing comfort and efficiency.  Of these cyclists, most have what is known as a Forefoot Varus (the inside of the foot tilts upward). This causes a misalignment as soon as you clip into a pedal because the pedal is flat.

varus-tilt

 

Foot Pressure

A simple tilt adjustment where the cleat/shoe meet can resolve the most common “hot spots” (your foot feels like there’s a flame underneath it).  Cyclists frequently contact BikeFit complaining of discomfort or pain on the bottom, outermost part of their foot. The left illustration shows the location of the MOST common “hot foot” or foot discomfort. The right illustration shows the ideal even pressure across the entire ball of their foot. Cyclists often describe this as feeling better connected, more stable, even-feeling and so on.  The illustration below portrays the pressure created from the inherent tilt in most feet.

Measuring Foot Tilt 

You can look at your own feet (with help) and see why there is often more pressure toward the outside of the foot. Kneel with on a chair and have someone hold a book or ruler across the balls of your feet.  Are they angled up toward the inside or up at the outer part of the foot?  Forefoot tilt is common so it’s likely that you’ll notice it.  There’s a simple solution to reduce the pressure and increase comfort on your bike rides.

Cleat Wedges are the Answer

Cleat Wedges are stackable to fine-tune your unique forefoot tilt.  They are specially designed to “fill the gap” between the natural tilt of the foot and the flat pedal.  Consequently, they allow your foot to remain closer to its innate position, not change it.

Deciphering the number of Cleat Wedges can be accomplished with the Foot Fit Calculator or the Forefoot Measuring Device.

How to Measure Foot Tilt and Find the Correct Number of Cleat Wedges

Option #1 BikeFit Pro

BikeFit Pros use a ForeFoot Measuring Device to discover foot tilt and recommend the number of Cleat Wedges needed to provide optimal comfort.  These trained bike fitters not only use manual tools but also employ a video capture BikeFit app to aid in bike fitting.

BikeFit Pros also provide extensive knowledge in fitting to optimize not only your foot/pedal interface but also your complete bike position.  Visit our BikeFit Locator to find a pro near you!
Option #2 Foot Fit Calculator

The Foot Fit Calculator App for Android allows you to easily determine foot tilt and the wedges required to compensate with our free app.  All you need is a friend to help take a quick picture of your feet and a comfortable to chair to kneel on.  The app even helps link you back to the BikeFit website to either find a local dealer or to purchase them via our website.

Do you have more questions about foot tilt?  Feel free to contact us!

 

*Note–This article was updated on 07/18/18

Morton’s Neuroma in Cycling: Nerve Pain Between the Toes

Have you ever felt pain or numbness near the ball of your foot or under your toes? Sometimes people describe it as feeling a pebble or a rock underneath their toes.  Others may feel a burning sensation, sharp pain, or numbness.

Morton’s neuroma is a thickening of the tissue around the nerves leading to your toes.  The pain most commonly travels between the 3rd and 4th toe but others experience pain near the ball of their foot or between the 2nd and 3rd toe.  Although the word “neuroma” conjures negative thoughts connecting to cancer, Morton’s neuroma is benign.

 

Causes

  • Tight shoes: high-heeled shoes specifically are a risk factor.  In cycling, shoes are commonly lower volume, which could pinch the toes together for prolonged periods depending on your ride duration.  Considering the number of pedal strokes in a long ride, and the potential amount of massive watts you expend on your local group ride of death, cyclists could be at a higher risk.
  • Foot abnormalities: people with bunions, hammer toes, high foot arches, or flat feet have a higher level of risk to develop Morton’s neuroma than others.
  • Impact: The repeated trauma of your feet pounding the pavement via running also places you at risk.
  • Foot Tilt: An often overlooked aspect in connection to Morton’s neuroma is the tilt of the foot as it relates to the connection with the pedal.  When the foot tilts up to the inside (forefoot varus) in a natural position, more pressure exists on the outer rays of the foot during the pedaling cycle.  This situation occurs in approximately 90 percent of the population.

 

Verification 

If you experience persistent pain, we recommend visiting your healthcare provider to potentially diagnose the issue with a foot examination. They may recommend a foot x-ray to rule out whether you’re experiencing bone problems vs. another instigator.

Solutions

  • Physical therapy: BikeFit (and our education partner CyclePoint) trains numerous bike fitters who are also physical therapists.  These extremely knowledgeable fitters specialize in both cycling and neuromuscular injuries.
  • Find better fitting cycling shoes:  Examine the toe-box and fit of your current shoes.  Many people have wide feet and some shoes are extremely narrow.  Although aesthetics in cycling may have led you to your most recent shoe purchase, comfort translates to increased power.  Many companies like Lake, Sidi, Bont and Northwave, produce wider shoes.  Lake produces “normal width” shoes that are already wider than many other companies, and they offer a separate wide sizing selection as well.  Some local bike shops offer specific shoe and cleat fittings.  If you visit your LBS (local bike shop) and request a foot fitting, they must examine the width and tilt of your foot to remedy pain sources.
  • Wedging: Wedging is the solution to the foot tilt issue that causes excessive pressure on the outside of the foot.

A Wedge helps brings pressure under the first two toes, or as you can see from the illustration on the right, wedges spread out the pressure.  This often relieves pain and discomfort.  We strongly suggest that anyone who displays symptoms of Morton’s neuroma should examine the tilt of their feet.

You don’t have to feel pain when you ride.

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