The Effect Of Cycling On Your Legs And Feet

If you've been cycling for any length of time, you've probably had a few injuries whilst exercising. With cycling, the majority of these injuries likely occur around the neck and shoulders due to your slouched riding position. However, the sport can cause also cause some problems with your feet and legs. 

Cycling And Podiatry

The link between cycling and foot problems shouldn't be too surprising; when you cycle, you are transferring a significant amount of force on to the bike pedal to move the bicycle forwards. This force is transferred from your hip flexors down through your thighs and calves and into your foot. Of course, you must continue to do this motion to keep moving forward, and the cyclic nature of the movement can cause severe stress on your foot. 

If you practice proper cycling mechanics, your legs will act as pistons and the force will transfer through your musco-skeletal system pain-free. However, even professional cyclists cannot maintain perfect form over long distances, and any deviation from proper alignment will cause unnecessary stress on the joints. 

Potential Foot Injuries From Cycling

There are a wide range of leg and foot injuries that cyclists may encounter during exercise; however, there are a few main culprits:

Patello-Femoral Pain Syndome

This is a condition that affects the knee and and occurs due to irritation of the joint linking the kneecap to the thigh bone. Typically, this condition arises from incorrect alignment of the kneecap during cycling. If your leg is misaligned during cycling, the repetitive stress can increase friction in the joint, causing severe pain over time. 

Achilles Tendinitis

Another recurring problem with cyclists is Achilles tendinitis. This is caused by irritation of the Achilles tendon located at the back of the heel, and is usually caused by improper pedaling mechanics or an uncomfortable seat height. Problems with the Achilles tendon do not happen overnight; rather, they occur as a result of continuous strain around the ankle. As such, it's vitally important to have frequent checkups to stop problems from occurring. 

Numbness/Tingling Sensation In Foot

As a cyclist, you've probably encountered a tingling sensation in your feet at some point in your life. In the majority of cases, this is simply due to a slow supply of blood to the area and is nothing to worry about. However, if this problem continues then it can be due to pressure on the nerves between the toes. To prevent this problem, try loosening the straps on your shoes slightly to alleviate pressure. If the problem continues, it may be a sign of more severe problems and you should seek immediate medical advice. 

Taking Steps To Prevent Injury

In the majority of cases, injury can be prevented by practicing proper technique and making sensible decisions. With cycling, there are a few things you should do to keep your feet injury-free: 

  • Correct Shoes - This is extremely important. Even though you may love a particular brand of cycling shoe, they may not be the right shape for your feet. Feet come in all shapes and sizes, so it's imperative that you find a cycling shoe that fits your feet properly. 
  • Correct Posture - If you've been cycling for any length of time, you probably know the importance of good posture on your spine's health. However, correct posture can also help reduce stress on your knees and ankles. Professional racing cyclists may slouch over the handlebars, but they have an exercise routine to compensate for this. As an amateur, you should always make sure your handlebars and seat are at a level that allows you to ride without over-straining your body. 
  • Stretching - The importance of stretching can't be understated. Particularly with cycling, where the motion is extremely repetitive, you have to condition your body to operate within this range. As such, you should condition your body gradually with gentle stretching exercises before setting off on your bike. 
  • Practice Proper Hygiene - To avoid any infections occurring, you have to practice proper foot care before and after cycling. This means washing your feet every day with antibiotic wash, making sure to dry them thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes.

As with any injury, if the problem persists you should seek professional medical advice to ensure there are no underlying medical issues. For more information, visit a specialist's website, such as