The population of bike-riding Americans has increased dramatically in recent years, from 47 million riders in 2008 to more than 65 million today. Here in Las Vegas, we’ve seen more and more cyclists out on the road and along the scenic trails, enjoying the sunny weather and spectacular vistas.
Whether you ride to work or just ride for fun, it’s important to keep your feet, ankles, and legs healthy and injury free. Going for a bike ride can be easier on your feet and joints than other forms of exercise, but that isn’t always the case. At Absolute Foot Care Specialists, our podiatry team helps keep your feet in top shape so that you can enjoy the perfect ride!
Lower Body Cycling Injuries
In mechanical terms, propelling a bicycle requires a transfer of power from the legs and hips, through the ankles and feet, to the pedals, drivetrain, and ultimately wheels of the bicycle. There are a lot of components that have to work together smoothly for a comfortable and efficient performance. Biomechanical inefficiencies not only make it harder to ride, but can cause injury and pain, too.
Some frequent cycling injuries treated by our podiatry team include:
- Achilles tendinitis. This overuse injury can result from continuous or repetitive contraction of your calf muscles while you pedal. It may lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness at the back of the leg, just above the heel.
- Heel pain. Sitting too high on your seat may lead to stretching and tearing of tissue on the underside of the heel (i.e., plantar fasciitis).
- Tingling feet. Constant pressure and too-small shoes are a few of the factors that can cause foot numbness in the middle of a ride.
- Ball of foot pain. Also known as metatarsalgia, ball of foot pain is common in riders for multiple reasons, including poor shoes, poor pedal positioning, and riding in too high a gear for the terrain.
- Knee pain. Knee conditions are especially common among riders. Often, the source of this pain can be traced to biomechanical issues with the feet and how they interact with the pedals.
- Shin pain. Biomechanical imbalances, muscle imbalances, or even structural problems with your arches can lead to pain, strain, and tenderness in the shinbones or surrounding soft tissues.
- Muscle tightness or fatigue. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Tight calves and hamstrings combined with too much riding (and not enough time to rest between rides) can quickly lead to chronic pain.
Podiatric Foot Care for Cyclists
When chronic foot pain is keeping you from going on the perfect ride, you need a foot care expert in your corner. At Absolute Foot Care Specialists, we work hard to keep cyclists happy, healthy, and on the road.
We offer both conservative and surgical treatments to fix even the most stubborn sources of chronic pain and injury, and can help you improve your biomechanics so that you put less stress on your feet as you ride. In some cases, a stiffer and better pair of cycling shoes will be enough to make the difference. In others, you may need custom-made insoles for your shoes in order to protect and cushion the balls of your feet, support your arch, or maintain proper foot position on the pedals.
Regardless of the source, severity, and location of your painful condition, you can trust that Dr. Noah Levine and the team will use their knowledge and expertise to accurately diagnose the problem and provide you with a range of personalized treatment options designed to meet your goals and needs.
Safe Cycling Tips
Often, repetitive cycling injuries and pain can be traced to a correctible problem with your riding style, or technique.
- Is it the right bike for you? Many casual riders get their bikes from a department store, yard sale, or from a relative. However, this can often mean the bike frame is the wrong size, or the wrong style (road bike, mountain bike, hybrid bike, etc.) for your preferred terrain.
- Seat height matters. Too high, and your calves stay contracted throughout the ride. Too low, and knee pain might set in. A seat that’s even a centimeter or two off the ideal height can make a big difference.
- Where are your feet? Yes, we know: on the pedals. But foot placement makes a difference, too. Some people push the pedals with the balls of their feet, while others ride on the arches. In general, you want to place the balls of your feet directly over the pivot arm of the pedal. If you use cages or cleats when you ride, they may need to be adjusted.
- Shoes and socks. Breathable, moisture-wicking socks are a must, as are shoes specifically designed for cycling (or combination cycling and hiking) if you want to be a serious rider.
If you find that your preventative measures aren’t helping, and you’re still struggling or experiencing pain, give the Absolute Footcare Specialists in Las Vegas a call. You can fill out a contact form online, or dial (702) 839-2010.