foot position/knees

bongo
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Location: Scotland

foot position/knees

Postby bongo » 5 Oct 2020, 6:23pm

Hello
First post here, hope it's in the correct place.
I've started to ride more often in lockdown and actually started to really enjoy it. So cycling regularly for enjoyment/exercise 3-4x week. I'm middle aged and live in Edinburgh so quite hilly.
I've noticed that on one pedal rotation my feet instead of keeping in a 12 o'clock position the toes swivel slightly from 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock. Hope that is a good explanation. Not sure if this is a problem, but in any case I want to have a good healthy technique as I cycle more.
I have slightly sore knees just above the kneecap at the front, quadriceps?. Not sure if this is related. Think the knee thing was also associated with a too low saddle which I've corrected. So hopefully the knee issue will slowly fade if it was the saddle.

Is there a gadget or some technique or something that can keep my feet straight on the pedal? Or is it a matter of self discipline?

Any help appreciated.
Thanks

mattsccm
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Joined: 28 Nov 2009, 9:44pm

Re: foot position/knees

Postby mattsccm » 5 Oct 2020, 8:16pm

Locking your feet in place could be a recipe for sore knees. Modern "clipless" pedals that hold your feet in place usually have some degree of "float" that allows your feet to move a bit. Masses of technical explantions out there. Get your seat height correct first and see what happens. Keep the balls of your feet roughly centred on the pedals a well.

Jdsk
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Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: foot position/knees

Postby Jdsk » 5 Oct 2020, 9:11pm

Welcome.

bongo wrote:I've noticed that on one pedal rotation my feet instead of keeping in a 12 o'clock position the toes swivel slightly from 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock.

That's in yaw, left to right rather than roll? And both feet the same?

What sort of shoes and pedals are you using... flat, toeclips, straps, system clips?

And can you add a side-on photo or video of you riding?

Jonathan

Jdsk
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Re: foot position/knees

Postby Jdsk » 5 Oct 2020, 9:13pm

bongo wrote:I have slightly sore knees just above the kneecap at the front, quadriceps?.

Could be the quadriceps muscle or tendon. Both sides?

Any other aches and pains anywhere or other medical conditions?

Jonathan

peetee
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Re: foot position/knees

Postby peetee » 5 Oct 2020, 10:58pm

Your discomfort could be due to the the angle of your foot, a muscle imbalance, natural weakness that will take time to correct or a number of other reasons. With regard to foot angle, this could be a case of moving the toe or heel Closer to the centre line of the bike or that you need your foot arch lifting (doing this actually rotates the knee outwards).
I would try doing a few low intensity rides and see if reducing the effort helps.
Top tip for today is let your foot take whatever angle it likes best and alter your Bike acordingly.
Current status report:
Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

bongo
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Joined: 5 Oct 2020, 6:09pm
Location: Scotland

Re: foot position/knees

Postby bongo » 6 Oct 2020, 9:35am

Thanks for all the useful replies. I'll try to answer each bit.

I have an ageing MTB in good nick with a handlebar riser the only addition, so more sit uppy better on my lower back with is a bit delicate and I'm tall. It has I guess standard flat pedals with no clips or anything.

I've only recently raised the saddle so I'll see how that goes, on first few runs it does seem a bit more relaxed.

The movement is side to side, so a yaw I guess. And yes both feet, and knees afterwards especially with stairs, not sharp pain, but more like a dull ache with each step. Wears off after a couple of days. And I use ordinary runners shoes though not happy with these as they have quite a slidey sole, they might be half size too big too. I've been looking for a better pair (tricky in lockdown). Though I have no idea of the best shoe, I felt somehow something with less heel and more grippy sole, something like a minimalist running shoe. But I have no clue. Having looked at the normal trainer/outdoor shoe outlets in Edinburgh I haven't come across anything suitable. Any hints on what to buy and where would be helpful.

Yes, I've done a few less vigorous flattish shorter runs recently to give the knees a break and try the saddle position.

I don't have any other medical conditions apart from the usual ageing wear and tear and niggles. I do yoga and am reasonably fit. But I'm wondering getting into cycling later on in life has been a bit of a shock to bits of my lower body even though I've been careful to gradually increase my rides over the last several months and did some online research. I'm really still a beginner, and gone from 2 miles to 12 mile runs over 4 months. Not sure if that is appropriate, but just upped it gradually as I felt better (less knackered and blowing) and enjoying it more.

Again, thanks.

Cheers

Jdsk
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Re: foot position/knees

Postby Jdsk » 6 Oct 2020, 9:48am

That sort of yaw is very common.

How have you set the saddle height now? A side-on photo or video of you riding might help. I'd be particularly interested in whether it's still too low and you're compensating for the amount of flexion you need with external rotation.

I'd suggest trying toeclips or clippy pedals and seeing how they work for you. One gentle way in is plastic shovels as in the photo below. Other makes are available.

And you're spot-on with your approach to exercise: it is a great idea, it is smart to build up slowly, and it is wise to be aware of niggles, aches and pains early and do something about them.

Jonathan

Image

bongo
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Location: Scotland

Re: foot position/knees

Postby bongo » 7 Oct 2020, 10:55am

Thanks for those suggestions. No photo, but have checked saddle height as suggested online, 6 o'clock pedal heel on pedal and straight leg. Have done that and will see how that goes as have adjusting it again up an inch or so.
As to the toe clips have ordered those, for a fiver worth a trial. Hopefully it will make my feet more stable.

I've got a couple of other questions about kit so I will post on that as well.

Cheers

Jdsk
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Re: foot position/knees

Postby Jdsk » 7 Oct 2020, 10:57am

Thanks for the response. You're right: do the experiments!

: - )

Jonathan

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531colin
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Re: foot position/knees

Postby 531colin » 12 Oct 2020, 1:06pm

mattsccm wrote:Locking your feet in place could be a recipe for sore knees. Modern "clipless" pedals that hold your feet in place usually have some degree of "float" that allows your feet to move a bit. Masses of technical explantions out there. Get your seat height correct first and see what happens. Keep the balls of your feet roughly centred on the pedals a well.

I would be very careful about restricting your feet to some pre-determined "ideal" position.
"Clipless" pedal systems where there is a cleat fixed to the bottom of your shoe which connects to a binding on the pedal have a very deliberate amount of "float" just so that your feet are able to move a bit as you describe. This is necessary, otherwise you are very likely to get sore knees.
Steve Hogg has (as usual) detailed recommendations on how far forward your feet should be on the pedal https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/04/power-to-the-pedal-cleat-position/.
I used to be comfortable with my feet roughly "ball of foot over pedal spindle". In the last few years I found my feet adopting exaggerated and variable angles on the pedals during the course of a ride, so that I could be at the limit of the cleat "float" which is uncomfortable. I now ride with my feet 10 or 15mm further forward, my feet are stable on the pedals and I don't feel the limit of the cleat "float".
You may find that all you need to do is place your feet further forward on the pedals.
In the days when very many cyclists rode with toeclips and straps, cycling shoes had a very short toe box; you may well find that no currently available toeclips allow you to get your feet far enough forward on the pedals wearing running shoes.

Gearoidmuar
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Location: Cork, Ireland. Corcaigh, Éire má tá Gaeilge agat.

What to do...

Postby Gearoidmuar » 17 Oct 2020, 4:35pm

I've dealt with this issue in a previous post. I used cleats for many years except in winter, and 3y ago ruptured medial cartilage in one knee, spontaneously. Was bother by this variable until nearly a year ago when I tried Catalyst Pedals, a long MTB pedal with studs. Miracle cure. Without pain in either knee since and no pain at night and no pain from walking, all of which I had.

Now, here's the beef. It's not the pedals' length which cured me, but the change in position, having the pedal axle in the middle of my arch rather the ball of the foot. I tried other BMX style pedals with this position and it's just as good and you lost NO power at all. It's remarkable that this has worked so well.

So my advice. Try this position and ignore whatever in or out angle your feet adopt.

Let me know if it works!

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foxyrider
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Re: What to do...

Postby foxyrider » 18 Oct 2020, 7:07pm

Gearoidmuar wrote:I've dealt with this issue in a previous post. I used cleats for many years except in winter, and 3y ago ruptured medial cartilage in one knee, spontaneously. Was bother by this variable until nearly a year ago when I tried Catalyst Pedals, a long MTB pedal with studs. Miracle cure. Without pain in either knee since and no pain at night and no pain from walking, all of which I had.

Now, here's the beef. It's not the pedals' length which cured me, but the change in position, having the pedal axle in the middle of my arch rather the ball of the foot. I tried other BMX style pedals with this position and it's just as good and you lost NO power at all. It's remarkable that this has worked so well.

So my advice. Try this position and ignore whatever in or out angle your feet adopt.

Let me know if it works!


we have to ask again, how do you know you lost no power, did you measure with a power meter?
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

bongo
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Joined: 5 Oct 2020, 6:09pm
Location: Scotland

Re: foot position/knees

Postby bongo » 19 Oct 2020, 6:45pm

Well, thought I'd post an update (not scientific in the least! but a personal take).
Used the toe clips for a while and I don't think they are for me.
Firstly, my toes got really cold despite normal footwear/socks (it's about 7-10c daytime here), I'm assuming because my feet/toes were pretty much in the same position through the ride?
Secondly, and the main thing is, though my feet felt more secure in the clips which I liked, I realised that throughout a ride I was obliged to keep feet in pretty much the same position held by the clip, with shifting ability just small. I realise that I like to vary the position of my foot through ball of foot on spindle to near arch on spindle which seems to spread the muscle stress and feels more relaxed, for a duffer like me anyway. Perhaps it gives different muscles a break.
Maybe I would get used to it over time but for now I'm just looking for replacement pedals the same as my current slightly buggered ones. I'll maybe give the toe clips another trial later.
I didn't notice much difference to my knee ache, but I am thinking that was alleviated mostly by raising the saddle, so my set up is fairly good for me after some trial and errors.

Thanks

Jdsk
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Re: foot position/knees

Postby Jdsk » 19 Oct 2020, 6:50pm

Thanks for the update. And congratulations on doing the experiment.

Jonathan

Gearoidmuar
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Location: Cork, Ireland. Corcaigh, Éire má tá Gaeilge agat.

Re: What to do...

Postby Gearoidmuar » 22 Oct 2020, 7:58pm

foxyrider wrote:
Gearoidmuar wrote:I've dealt with this issue in a previous post. I used cleats for many years except in winter, and 3y ago ruptured medial cartilage in one knee, spontaneously. Was bother by this variable until nearly a year ago when I tried Catalyst Pedals, a long MTB pedal with studs. Miracle cure. Without pain in either knee since and no pain at night and no pain from walking, all of which I had.

Now, here's the beef. It's not the pedals' length which cured me, but the change in position, having the pedal axle in the middle of my arch rather the ball of the foot. I tried other BMX style pedals with this position and it's just as good and you lost NO power at all. It's remarkable that this has worked so well.

So my advice. Try this position and ignore whatever in or out angle your feet adopt.

Let me know if it works!


we have to ask again, how do you know you lost no power, did you measure with a power meter?


1. I don't have a powermeter, BUT my times on different routes on particular bikes are exactly the same and I never look at the speedo till I finish.
2. German scientists have measured it and they think that that position (mid-sole) actually gives you up to 3% MORE power.
3. Against my cycling companions, I've not suffered vis a vis them since.