Common question number 1. Do I need a new shoe or a cycling orthotic to help my foot pain?

When we have clients book an online appointment at our Milton headquarters, or in one of our satellite locations at North West Physiotherapy, the most common added note to the booking is “I’m not sure if I need new shoes or whether the problem is coming from my feet”. This is an entirely appropriate question to ask and one which requires a little bit of analysis on our end to work out a solution. However there are a few clues as to where your problems are coming from.

Typically as we progress through the sport of cycling, our duration and frequency of activity increases. The toughness of the terrain also changes enormously as our confidence grows. I’m often surprised how quickly some riders progress from beginners to Gran Fondo warriors! (You know who you are guys) Cycling is certainly a sport that rewards you for your endeavours. That said, as we build our volume of riding the risks of developing issues with our shoes also grows.

Typically feet begin their pathway to pain insidiously. The exact timing isn’t always clear yet once a pattern emerges, the trend becomes very strong. That said if you change your shoes and the pain commences it’s highly likely the shoes are responsible! Aside from that simple scenario shoes can still be to blame if your volume increases to a point where you begin to feel discomfort on longer rides.

Some signs that it is likely the shoes are causing the problem are:

  • Numbness in your toes or the ball of the foot on longer rides

  • Isolated pressure points in the upper of the shoe

  • The sensation that your feet are swimming in the shoe causing your toes to claw down

  • Heel slippage

  • Reaching the limit of tension on your closure system (either maxed out or dialled in)

  • Red marks on bony prominences after your shoes come off

  • A sloppy foot feel inside the shoe

  • Pain which has gradually emerged as a shoe has become older and more worn out

  • Painful toes especially the little toes

  • Sore bunions on the inside or the outside of your foot

There are instances where the foot pain is caused by both foot issues and the shoe being inappropriate. In these cases working on a solution for both will likely get the best outcome. Generally when we do this we will tick off one box at a time to ensure we are getting an outcome clearly defined by the variable we have changed and avoiding confusion. I also find many clients who typically wear orthotics inside their normal shoes benefit somewhat when we create a cycling orthotic solution as well.

In either case, if you are getting pain in your feet when you ride, let us know and I am confident we can find a solution. All our shoe fitting takes place on the indoor trainer to ensure we are spot on and ready to roll. We also have a fantastic relationship with Lake Shoes internationally and Cobra9 Cycling Orthotics that allows to create awesome solutions for all cyclists.

Nathan White Podiatrist