Why are cycling cleat wedges so effective?
What are cycling cleat wedges?
Cycling wedges are slim plastic sheets that can be placed inside the shoe or outside, between the cleat and your shoe. They have a greater thickness on one side, creating an angle for your foot to sit on. Similar to an insole in a shoe, they can help your foot feel more comfortable and snug in your shoe, and they help to evenly disperse the pressure that you put down through your foot, onto the shoe, and onto the pedal.
Why use cycling shoe wedges?
The vast majority of people have a slight varus tilt of their foot. This means when you sit with your legs dangling your feet are slightly tilted inwards so that the inner edge of your feet is higher than the outer edge.
The pedal of your bike is perfectly horizontal, and for a small number of this is the perfect fit. For the majority of us, we need some help to make the interface between our foot and our shoe have a better fit.
Greater contact between the foot and pedal via a cycling shoe wedge can reduce additional movement at the foot and further up the leg, such as at the knee. It can improve the efficiency of movements and reduce energy waste. Many people find that their knees move inwards as they push down onto the pedal, and this can be resolved in many cases with proper foot positioning and wedging the foot correctly.
Signs and symptoms of a poor fit can vary from sensations of burning or hot feet to numbness, often more noticeable with longer rides. A poor fit in the shoe can also affect other joints, and people commonly feel knee pain. This can be at the front or inner side of your knee or along the iliotibial band.
How to use a cycling shoe wedge correctly?
When you cycle it’s about feel, alignment, and power, so correct wedging can be assessed in several different ways. At Flawless Physio, we use photo and video recordings with lasers to see the correct alignment.
Most importantly, we check how the individual feels with each adjustment we make. With a good bike fit, it’s about making the bike feel more like an extension of yourself, not a machine that you are pushing along.
The optimum result of a good bike fit is increased power output, greater efficiency, and reduced injury risk.
Cycling insoles differ from those used in walking or running shoes as the biomechanics of moving are completely different. When you walk, your initial contact with the ground is with your heel. When you cycle, contact between your foot and the pedal is on the ball of your foot.
Regular insoles are designed to influence the movement from heel strike to midstance and through to push-off, but this is impossible in cycling. Therefore, the main purpose of cycling insoles is to provide comfort in your cycling shoes and maximise the contact between your foot and pedal.
An external wedge between your shoe and the cleat is more effective in influencing the mechanics of whether your foot or knee moves excessively in or out.