Foot Pain Centres
of Leeds

Telephone: 0113 418 0282   

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Cycling Injuries

How cycling has impact on the foot

Cycling requires the entire lower body to function as a harmonious unit and bring sufficient force down on the bicycle pedal to move forward. This tremendous force begins in the hip joint and thigh muscles and passes through the ball of the foot to the pedal.

As long as the bones, muscles, and joints of the lower extremity are properly aligned with each other, there should be an efficient and pain-free excursion of the pedal.

Deviations from this alignment may eventually cause foot /ankle, lower leg, knee, thigh, hip or low back pain.

Cycling injuries and when to seek the help of a Podiatrist

Every day, we treat cyclists who have sustained overuse injuries by pushing themselves beyond their limitations. Here are some of the most common cycling injuries and their causes.

Achilles Tendinitis

Irritation and inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the back of the heel bone which can be caused by:

  • incorrect pedalling
  • seat height
  • lack of a proper warm-up
  • over training

This condition is usually seen in more experienced riders and can be treated with ice, rest, anti inflammatory medications. Chronic pain or any swelling should be professionally evaluated.

Knee Pain

If you develop swelling, clicking or popping around the knee joint you should be immediately evaluated. Cartilage irritation or deterioration usually under the kneecap can be caused by a

  • biomechanical imbalance between the inner quadriceps muscle and Iliotibial band
  • improper saddle height
  • faulty foot positioning on the pedals


Impingement of small nerve branches between the second and third or third and fourth toes can cause swelling that results in numbness, tingling, burning, or sharp shooting pains into the toes, over time this can result in the formation of neuromas.

Wider shoes, or loosening toe straps or shoe laces can alleviate the problem. If the problem persists, try a clip-less shoe system. Numbness or tingling with leg pain may represent a serious problem known as “acute compartment syndrome” which requires immediate medical attention.

Sometimes known as the “ball bearings of the foot” the sesamoids are two small bones found beneath the first metatarsal bones the sesamoids can inflame or rupture under the stress of cycling. Sesamoiditis can be relieved with proper shoe selection and orthoses.

Shin Splints

Pain to either side of the leg bone caused by muscle or tendon inflammation. This may be related to a muscle imbalance between opposing muscle groups in the leg. It is commonly related to excessive foot pronation (collapsing arch). Proper stretching and corrective orthoses can help prevent shin splints.

Equipment required

Besides selecting a bicycle that meets your specific needs, correct shoes are the most important piece of cycling equipment.

Cycling shoes must have a stable shank to efficiently transfer power from your feet to the pedals. The lack of shank support in trainers allows the foot to collapse through the arch while pedalling which may cause arch pain, tendon problems, or burning under the bottom of the foot. A rigid shank protects your feet from the stress of pedalling.

Select a shoe that’s right for you among models designed for racing and mountain biking. For the casual rider without known foot problems, cross training shoes can provide the necessary support across the arch. They also provide the heel lift that cycling shoes give. Combination cycling-hiking shoes meet the needs of the casual rider and have become popular recently.

Booking an assessment at our clinic is imperative if you have any of the conditions which we have mentioned. We at The Leeds foot pain centre which is part of the Leeds back and foot centre specialise in cycling injuries.

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    Top tips for Cycling

    1. Carefully choose the shoes you will wear in cycling.
    2. Make sure your bike fits you properly.
    3. Warm up properly. Condition yourself safely in the off season.
    4. To stop pain before it starts, stretch the major muscle groups used in cycling – the gluteals, the quadriceps, calves and hamstrings – before and after getting on the bike. Riders should start slowly and work up to normal cadence (rate of pedalling).
    5. Ensure the seat is at the proper height when knees are slightly flexed.

    Cyclists, whether at beginner or professional level, are able to access our Cycling Video Assessment Clinics. At the Foot Pain Centres of Leeds we work in with Crosstrax in Leeds to ensure that all our patients are able to access good professional and friendly advice.