Pedal Away from Foot Pain When Riding Your Bike

Lance Armstrong is likely feeling some emotional pain this week after receiving a lifetime ban from international cycling competition; however, the longtime champion of the Tour de France has continued to do what he loves by participating in a mountain bike race this past weekend. Throughout the cycling career of Lance, as well as other professional and amateur cyclists, injuries can happen, including those of the foot and ankle. Being able to prevent and identify these injuries will help you to get back in the bike saddle!

Similarly to running, most bicycling foot injuries are due to overuse and repetitive loading of muscles, joints and bones. These types of injuries are accelerated when there is improper alignment of the body during motion, either from naturally occurring deformities within the body or from equipment such as cycling shoes or bicycle setup. Pain in the heel is not uncommon in cyclists.

The repetitive motion of lifting the toes, or dorsiflexing the foot during cycling can lead to Achilles tendonitis due to the passive pull on the tendon. Not only will a tight Achilles tendon become aggravated and painful along the posterior aspect of the heel, but it will contribute to another condition commonly seen in cyclists: plantar fasciitis. Having a very high arched foot or a very flat foot, as well as having the foot in an angled position while pedaling will all contribute to the development of plantar fasciitis. Both Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis may be relieved by raising the height of the bike seat. This simple adjustment decreases the amount of dorsiflexion required by the ankle joint, thus relieving demands of excessive motion that can lead to heel pain.

Pain in the ball of the foot, or metatarsalgia, is another common complaint in cyclists. This pain is often caused by excessive pressure on the bones in this region of the foot. A few conservative changes that may relieve metatarsalgia include: switching to a less rigid cycling shoe and decreasing pedal resistance. These changes decrease the pressure placed on the ball of the foot and may be helpful in symptom relief.

If simple changes do not alleviate pain while cycling and participating in daily activities, cycling enthusiasts should always contact their podiatrist immediately to receive appropriate treatment and pain relief from injuries.

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington. If you would like to see a podiatrist in Dublin, Ohio near Tuttle Crossing, call 614-885-3338 for an appointment.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia