Question: I have orthotics for walking and running and have heard they’re useful for cycling, too. My podiatrist, a non-athlete, isn’t very enthused. Will these orthotics improve my riding performance? — Charley R.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Orthotics are custom insoles (foot beds) worn in shoes to improve foot support and correct biomechanical problems. Orthotics made for cycling are different from those designed for running.
Because running is a heel-strike activity, orthotics are designed to support feet from the heel to partway up the arch. Cycling, on the other hand (foot?), is a forefoot activity. It’s the ball of the foot that feels pressure from the pedal. So, orthotics made for cycling must be “forefoot posted” and extend from the heel to just behind the toes (or be full length).
You might benefit from cycling orthotics if you pronate excessively, get numb or “burning” feet while riding, or have other biomechanical issues.
Be sure to be fitted by a specialist who knows the difference between orthotics designed for running and those for cycling. Not all podiatrists are experienced with the needs of our sport — as you’ve found.