Are your arches slowing you down?

Your feet are the power link between your lower body and the bike. Having proper cleat placement and rotational alignment on the bottom of your shoes is often overlooked (or incorrectly done). Choosing how far back and/or the rotation angle of your cleat is something you can play with yourself but is most easily done by a competent bike fitter. Our self perception is often quite incorrect and having a set of experienced eyes watch how you function on and off the bike is a great way to go. Plus, moving your cleat will affect your seat height and fore/aft. And don't forget that with any change in your position, you will need to ease into it with some easy to moderate riding in order to allow your body to adapt to the change. If you mess with your position, even for the better, and immediately go out and hammer you will likely regret it.

So what about your arches? It is very common for the arch to compress or collapse with each pedal stroke as the foot presses down and compresses in the shoe. The degree of collapse will be affected by the amount of power being transmitted and varies from person to person. Limiting the arch compression can do wonders for knee, hip and lower back comfort. Most cycling shoes come with inadequate foot beds and little to no arch support (one of the brands we sell actually has a very nice footbed system). Most cyclists will benefit from a "mildly intrusive" amount of arch support. When standing in your cycling shoes it should feel like too much but once you ride for a bit you should cease to notice it. There are a few aftermarket footbeds I have experimented with which we do not stock at the store but my favorite so far is from eSoles. They have a modular arch support system (which Bontrager uses a cheapened version of) so you can try varying degrees of support. If you already have high-ish arches you should make sure to get the black arch support in addition to the kit as it is the highest but doesn't come with the kit. Superfeet and Sole make good products as well.

Now the disclaimer: If in doubt, get the advice of a professional. If you change something and it hurts, put it back. Now go out for a bike ride!