On the forum a few weeks back I mentioned going to see Mark Newton from Jet Cycles in Sydney and running through the process of getting fitted for custom insoles for my shoes, I also asked you for your questions on the subject.
Well, last week I spent some time with Mark and got him to answer our questions and also to see if he could do anything with my feet which as you will see in part 2 are not quite "foot model" material.
What problems can custom insoles address?
Hot foot (nerve and artery compression in the metatarsals) collapsed longitudinal arch which causes tibial rotation - better ankle - knee -hip alignment.
Custom insoles means you get correct support for each individual foot – the standard issue insoles commonly used are symmetrical while feet are asymmetrical.
Do they suit all cycling shoes?
We have different insoles that can be selected to suit the foot and shoe as a solution. Some riders have a low volume shoe and so need a low volume insole. Some riders have more room and need increased stiffness in the arch support so we use a different one again. In general yes they fit most cycle shoe/feet combinations.
Do mouldable sole shoes affect the effectiveness of the insoles, or should the soles be fitted before or instead of moulding shoes?
It's hard to really heat up a shoe enough to get a truly custom fit. Mouldable shoes typically mould the insole and the upper. A better fit and improved alignment comes from moulding in the windlass position.
Are they transferable between cycling shoes? If not and you have training and racing shoes which ones should they be in if you only had one pair?
Yes. They transfer in a matter of seconds - you always have them in the pair you are using!
What benefits can they give for Triathletes with regards to running off the bike?
Saving energy on the bike helps you ride and run faster.
On the run itself, again better alignment and improved proprioception means better stability, mobility and control. Run with more efficiency and reduced injury - ask Nick Burt who ran 2:54 at Port Mac to win the 40-44 age group. He has had them in for some time and run training, consistency and injuries have been much better.
For those of us that wear orthotics in our running shoes, should we wear them in our cycling shoes?
When we are in a cycling shoe the foot is not moving, you’ve got ankle movement and you can have collapse which we don’t want but you are not getting a normal walking movement.
If you’ve got a foot that’s not functioning well your orthotic is going to be better than nothing, but ideally you should get something that is cycling specific because the lower limb functions differently when cycling. Cycling is a forefoot activity and also has a different cadence and turnover to walking or running. During running the foot also goes through a greater range of motion so there are big differenesin the foots function between cycling and running.
Do you think carbon stack height or thickness of the insole should be enough reason to adjust seat height?
Yes certainly if you are going to put in a thicker insole you are going to contact differently so it will affect height, similarly with a shoe with a thinner insole or a shoe with a lower stack height you need to adjust accordingly.
There seems to be a move back to laces in many shoes - while we focus on stiffness of the sole - do we lose a lot of additional power based on the type of closure system on the shoe. So does a single strap tri shoe have as good a power transfer as a three strap shoe?
With a single strap tri shoe, what you get generally is a very sloppy toe box, anyone doing half Ironman or Ironman should be wearing road shoes. You are going to do better with a better supported, better connected shoe for 90 or 180 km than you are in one that is four seconds faster putting it on but giving you a sloppy contact area energy loss and poor proprioception.
So a single strap shoe is for where the difference between a gold medal or making the front pack or making a national team is a few seconds in that case yes, for all the rest of us especially doing 90 K and up I’d be in a road shoe and I'd also recommend a road shoe for training.... always.
Heat mouldable soles - gimmick or solution?
The standard heat mouldable soles is a basic insole you heat it up put it in your shoe and go. What it doesn’t do, it doesn’t put you in the windlass position which stiffens the arch and totally changes the alignment.
I’ve not had a lot of experience with these types of sole. Sure, for some people it may just increase the comfort and I think there may be a level of benefit in it over a standard one, but if you are going to go there, you may as well do it right and get the better support and the better corrective function.
As for the mouldable shoe,s mostly it is the inner and the upper that is actually being moulded but the real support of the shoe is from the base and if you've got volume issues then heat moulding doesn’t really address this issue.
The biggest thing in shoes is the varus forefoot wedge. 90% of the population have a footthat is on an angle, so that is your natural angle and we need to support that.
Some brands of shoes are flat so when your foot has to become flat to contact the shoe your knees begin to come in.
The Specialized range of shoes are ot flat and all have the varus forefoot wedge.
Every time I ride my toes go numb. Pain in the arse when you get off your bike to run. Have tried moving cleat and changing shoes. Is there a solution?
Yes! First thing we are going to talk about is “foot-shoe, cleat-pedal”. The first thing everyone says when you mention hotfoot or numb feet is you have to move your cleat. So stop and think "foot- shoe, cleat- pedal".
First we need to ask is the foot supported correctly in the shoe. That's your first connection and that’s why the insoles are what we focus on first and of course the size of the shoe.
So that relationship between foot and shoe is the first one.
Shoes to narrow? Feet will pinch together. It is going to compress the nerve.
Or, shoes the right size but a collapsing foot, which is more common, again pinching the nerve.
So for that we get the custom insoles done with a metatarsal button and an arch that matches your foot.
Once you have that right then you can move on to getting the cleat alignment right. However, you may at this point find that once the feet are right the cleat alignment may not be an issue. If you look at shoes today, with the stiffness of them, while it is still critical to get your cleat in the right spot it is less sensitive than it would be if you had a shoe that was more flexible.
Generally it’s the contact points where riders have the problems so we address the contact points first. It is often the case where someone comes in complaining about the comfort of their shoes and wanting to buy the $400 plus shoes, where for the price of thecustom insoles I could make them more comfortable in cheaper shoes oreven their old shoes.
In our next instalment you too can laugh at my manky feet, as Mark starts the hurculean task of trying to get me comfortable in some cycling shoes.
Contact Mark @ JetCycles