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Bikefit Science:
Custom-made Cycling Insoles

Cycling Orthotics

Today custom-made moulded cycling insoles are widely used and demands are on the rise. Many manufacturers, bike-fitters and cycle shops alike recommend their use to limit associated knee injuries as well as to improve cycling performance. As such many of these claims seem to be unfounded because they are based on peer reviewed research studies, not intended towards a specific insole manufacter.  

Cycling moulded insoles

Today there is still very little reliable evidence in the use of cycling orthotics particularly in reducing injuries or to improve cycling performance unlike orthotic studies into gait activities (1,2,3,4). Furthermore the limited reliable (independent) studies (5,6,7,8) stand-alone supports that have little or no effect in reducing knee injuries or to improve performance.


To date research suggests when orthotic supportive arch devices are used in conjunction with appropriate prescribed forefoot and/or rear-foot wedges, or when forefoot varus wedges are used alone (9,10,11) then the above claims are more likely to be recognised. Studies have shown that contoured foot orthotics increase the plantar surface pressure compared with flat footbeds (12) which may be an effective way in treating hot foot.  Earlier studies such as Hannaford et al 7) reported that under light or moderate loads, the simple longitudinal arch support or rear-foot type support might be adequate, but when the load increases and the force is placed directly on the metatarsal heads, the foot will collapse in the direction that allows the forefoot to become parallel with the pedal. Moreover, in the vast majority of cyclists the foot collapses inwards.


Foot function - Walking vs Cycling  

The characteristics of foot function during walking and cycling is very different therefore the approach in the management should distinguish these roles. For example whilst walking the preliminary load is through the forefoot, the foot is dynamic and the big toe must flex to deliver efficient propulsion. Equally, in cycling, the loading is through the forefoot and the foot remains static.  Preferably the foot should be supported in its natural anatomical position to enable it to transfer the forces effectively and efficiently (13).

Neil Grahame

Nick's treatments have helped revive my energy levels and fluidity of movement. The advice and exercise recommendations Nick provided were always clear and achievable.


I have since recommended Nicks Pain Relief Clinic to a number of people for effective pain relief due to his knowledge and professionalism.

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  1. Hunter, S., Dolan, M., & Davis, J. (1995) Foot orthotics in therapy and sport. USA: Human Kinetics.

  2. Murley, G., et al., (2009) Effect of foot posture, foot orthoses and footwear on lower limb muscle activity during walking and running: a systematic review, Gait Posture, 29(2):172-87

  3. Scherer, P., Sanders, J., & Eldredge, D. (2006) Effect of functional foot orthoses on first metatrsophalangeal joint dorsiflexion in stance and gait. Journal of American Podiatric Medical Association, 96(6):474-481

  4. Hirschmuller, A., Baur, H., & Muller, S. (2011) Clinical effectiveness of customised sport shoe orthoses for overuse injuries in runners: a randomised controlled study, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45:959-965

  5. Koch, M., Frohlich, M., Emrich, E et al., (2013) The impact of carbon insoles in cycling on performance in the Wingate Anaerobic Test. Journal of Science and Cycling, 2(2):2-5

  6. O’Neill, B., Graham, K., Moresi, M. Et al., (2011) Custom formed orthoses in cycling, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 14:529-534

  7. Hannaford, D., Moran, G., & Hlavac, A. (1986). Video analysis and treatment of overuse knee injury in cycling: a limited clinical study. Clinics in Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, 3:671-678

  8. Di Alencar, T., Bini, R., Matias, K., et al (2012) Effects of foot orthoses on cycling performance. R. bras. Ci. E Mov, 20(1): 122-132

  9. Dinsdale, N., & Williams, A. (2010) Can forefoot varus wedges enhance anaerobic cycling performance in untrained males with forefoot varus? Journal of Sport Scientific and Practical Aspects, 7(2):5¬-10

  10. Moran, G., & McGlinn, G. (1995) The effect of variations in the foot pedal interface on the efficiency of cycling as measured by aerobic energy cost and anaerobic power. Biomechanics in Sport, 12: 105-109.

  11. Berry, A., Phillips, N., & V. Sparkes, V. (2012) Effect of inversion and eversion of the foot at the shoe-pedal interface on quadriceps muscle activity, knee angle and knee displacement in cycling, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, British Volume 94.SUPP XXXVI: 61-61

  12. Bousie, J., Blanch, P., McPoil, T. et al (2013) Contoured in-shoe foot orthoses increase mid-foot plantar contact area when compared with a flat insert during cycling. Journal of Science & Medicine in Sport, 16:60-64

  13. Dinsdale, N.J. (2012) Musculoskeletal Screening of Competitive Cyclists prior to Cycle set-up, Conference presentation – unpublished. 40th Annual Pedal Power Conference, Association British Cycling Coaches, Coventry, 2012   

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