Indoor cycling is not just the cat’s meow of fitness fad; it’s a here-to-stay staple of fat-burning, heart pumping, results-driven cardio. It’s the fit IT! There’s now an indoor cycling program in every major gym in America and boutique spinning studios popping up all across the country. If you haven’t jumped on the bike yet, you’re late to the party and missing all the calorie burning fun.
If you’ve been on the spin party train for a while now, you’ve probably invested in your own cycling shoes. While borrowing cycling cleats from the front desk is a great at the beginning, hopefully your cardio workout on the bike is more frequent than a weekend trip to the bowling alley and the truth is there’s nothing sexy about putting on shoes someone else had their sweaty socks in. Time to get your own shoes baby! Now cycling shoes may not be the cutest piece of your active wear look, but trust me, it is the most important thing you’re wearing to class. Let’s talk about why your cycling shoes totally trump your compression LuLu leggings.
In any given spinning class, the rider performs 3,600-4,500 pedal strokes going an average 80-100 rpms. The rider is sitting, standing, jumping, and sprinting. Any good spinning instructor will suggest using cycling shoes that have a rigid shank for class. Running and athletic shoes without a stiff sole are not good for cycling and do not provide the proper foot and ankle support on the pedal. With soft-soled shoes, the foot is more likely to collapse with repetitive pedaling and lead to arch pain, tendonitis and burning and numbing sensations under the bottom of the foot. Stiff soled cycling shoes, are designed to transfer enough energy from legs and feet to the pedals, making you an athletic powerhouse on the bike.
Your feet are your most important connection to the bike and while cycling shoes up your game; it may not be enough. Dr. Helmer Velez, chiropractor, wellness doctor and owner of Velez Chiropractic in Santa Monica, CA says that insoles and orthotics are important in physical activity. When I asked him why foot support made a difference on the bike, he said “Most people have uneven arches just like they have uneven hips. Whether you have flat feet, pronate or have high arches, you should have your feet as balanced as you can to decrease not only bad foot mechanics but working inefficiently and being prone to an injury.”
So, I had to see what I was working with. I deconstructed my cycling shoes by pulling out the liner and checking out the goods.
My jaw dropped as I looked at what was under my feet while spinning like a mad women for hours every week for years. To my surprise, I found a paper-thin, soft sock liner with minimal support and a wood shank underneath. Not the Nike pump air cushion I was expecting. So how can I make my precious feet more comfortable?
If spinning is going to be a cardio staple in your workout regiment and you’ve solidified the relationship with a pair of cycling shoes, then now is the time to think about avoiding any unnecessary foot related injuries due to unnatural pressure in the center of the foot, caused by constant pedaling.
When riding out of the saddle, there a good amount of pressure put on the center of the foot. It is right at the center of the foot where nerves and tendons are most susceptible to injury. A cheap liner and wood sole don’t do your hard working feet justice! Lack of support at the foundation can lead to unnecessary motion of the feet, ankles and knees, thus causing inefficient pedal strokes and possible injury.
Dr. Velez says, “It is always important to get your gait and biomechanics checked primarily to avoid knee, hip and lower back problems. For instance, if you have weaker glute medius, you might pronate more the same and have tight hip flexors, tight peroneals muscles, week tibialis and so forth.” Since all feet are not created equally, ensuring proper alignment of the foot in the shoe can help eliminate pain, improve efficiency on the bike and ensure power is not wasted.
PICKING AN INSOLE
Cycling shoes are low-volume by design and require a different fit than running/walking shoes. Here is what the insole of your spinning dreams features:
DEEP HEEL CUP: Unlike the insole made for running/walking shoes, the heel should not be made of gel nor have foam paddling. Too much paddling will make the heel ride too high and negatively impact the amount of power when pulling back the pedal stroke. The insole for cycling shoes should have a deeper heel cup to provide the rider more comfort, as well as provide more efficient power transfer from the heels to the forefoot and to the pedals
EASY ON THE PADDING: If you have ever had your feet fall asleep when cycling, it may have been that your shoes were too tight. You should be able to wiggle your toes in your shoes. Therefore, when picking an insole, the overall padding needs to be comfortable. Remember that cycling shoes are low-volume and any padding that is too thick will decease the room for your actual foot. If your insoles and/or socks are creating too tight of a fit, you will experience a loss of power in your pedal stroke (and possibly some sleepy feet).
LOW/MED/HIGH: Got arch support? You want an insole that works for your feet so your arch is not collapsing during the pedal stroke. CurrexSole BikePro, SIDAS and Icebug Slim insoles come in Low, MED and HIGH arch support, so you can get the arch support right for you. Chances are if you’ve needed arch support in your everyday shoes, you would want them in your workout shoes too
METATARSAL PAD: Is that your metatarsal or are you just happy to see me? On the bottom of your foot, the metatarsal heads (and sesamoid bones) protrude the most during cycling, due to excessive plantar flexion under load (elevated heel and depressed forefoot). In the repetitive nature of cycling, the metatarsal heads experience “over pressure.” An insole with a metatarsal pad will provide support and relief. A|Line, CurrexSole, Foot Balance and Icebug insoles all provide a metatarsal pad
Visit Dr. Helmer Velez and tell him you read this article:
2116 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA
Visit a cycling shop near you to get fitted for insoles
Helen's Cycle- 2501 Broadway Santa Monica, CA 90404
Performance Bicycle- 1314 Wilshire Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90403