Written by Krish Basu. In the blog post he shares the importance of the right shoe fitting for a better ride.
In recent times, cases of foot discomfort have been pretty common in several sessions of Bike Fit. Sometimes, there were complaints about numbness under the toes or ball of the feet. At other times it was a sensation of pain on the forefoot. Although there are a few different reasons like cleat positioning and bike fit, the most common reason has been the wrong shoe size.
Why is shoe fitting important ?
So why is the right fitting shoe so important? Let me try to list down some of the issues below.
Instability: A shoe which is bigger or isn’t snug will make the feet wobble on the power phase of the pedal stroke. This not only leads to power loss, but will lead to an unstable pelvis and upper body.
Pains and Numbness: It is easy to imagine that a shoe that is a size smaller or narrower can lead to compression of your forefoot, leading to aches and discomfort. Most Indians have a wider feet profile. Unfortunately, many of the European and Italian brands don't cater to this type of feet. It is also possible for a bigger shoe to result in foot numbness, particularly under the toes.
In search for a show that fits wide feet
An alarmingly common case in India (and definitely in Hyderabad) has been riders with wide feet settling for a regular fit shoe that is one size bigger instead of the correct wide fit shoe without realizing the pitfalls. Since a bigger shoe is designed for a bigger foot, the cleat holes at the bottom of the shoe have also been drilled assuming a bigger foot. While the actual foot a size or two smaller, the range of the cleat position is going to be compromised. Many times, the arch or the heel cup may not have the best fit.
Guidelines for Shoe Selection:
Step 1 : Get your feet measured.
This is best done with a Brannock device, by an expert. Measurement needs to be taken while you are standing. You may find that both feet aren’t the same size (half a size difference is very common. In a few cases I have come across feet which are off by one complete size). You will also realize if they are narrow or wide.
Step 2: Shortlist shoes based on feet type and size.
If you have wide feet, go for wide shoes only. They haven’t been readily available until recently in India, but things are changing. A word of caution here - the term ‘wide’ is brand subjective. 'Wide' of Specialized may be different from ‘wide’ of Giro. A good bike shop should be able to measure your feet and then map it to the right shoe brand and model.
Step 3: Stand up while trying the shoe.
Our feet expand a bit on pressure. So this step is important.
Step 4: Look for the right fit.
a. The empty space ahead of your tallest toe (generally the big toe or the one adjacent to it) shouldn't be longer than 1 cm
b. The heel cup feels snug and you aren’t able to put a finger through between the heel cup and your heel.
c. The transverse arch of your feet is not compressed. If it is compressed, you will feel a strain around the little toe which will only worsen with time on the bike. It is important to allow natural forefoot flexion during the power phase of the pedal stroke.
d. If you have to tighten or loosen the fasteners (the boa /velcro) to the extreme of either of the ends, the shoe size may not be right.
Good luck with your next shoe!