Cycling with cleats so force is towards heel

After no exercise since March due to foot injuries I am slowly allowed to get going on a bike again. I have lingering sesamoidits so must avoid putting pressure through the ball of my foot. So far I've been allowed on the turbo and have used normal pedals. It's been easy (for the massive 10 mins I'm allowed on!) to concentrate on keeping my heel on the pedal. I'm desperate to get outside but physio is worried it will be natural to move my foot forward on hills etc. I was wondering if somehow I can clip in at heel end rather than ball/arch. All the shoes I can see online are at ball of foot area, but I'm a bit clueless with this sort of thing. I realise even if possible this is probably an ergonomic/efficiency disaster, but it's all I've got at the moment!


  • If it were possible I would seriously warn against it ... it will upset all sorts of mechanics and you would likely end up with more problems than you started with

    Your physio knows best

  • Point taken about upsetting various mechanics etc, but it is my physio telling me to pedal with my heel and avoid the ball. I said to her about clipping in at heel and she was fine with that if it were possible. However, she is not a cyclist and sounds like there is more to it from what you are saying. Thanks. Back to the drawing board...
  • Middle of the foot is certainly possible if not the heel.

    While I don't use anything quite so extreme, I use Speedplay pedals with the Alu fore aft extenders and the cleat as far back as it will go.  This is due to a history of Achilles problems so I reduce the force on my tendons.

    How far back do you need to go?


  • Oooooh, that looks helpful, thanks. As far back as possible, but for sure the ball of the foot clear of the pedal. Do you have the same set up on both sides to be even, if only one side is injured (or perhaps you had problems both sides?). I think if the sole is stiff the arch/middle would be ok. I'm avoiding that as I'm in trainers just now. Many thanks image will look into that.
  • I would definitely keep the cleat the same on each shoe.

    good luck.

  • why clip in at all for now.why not just cycle on falt normal pedals

  • Hi Seren - we're thinking that clipping in will keep my foot positioned correctly, so no danger of it slipping as the rides hopefully get a bit longer. I have to really concentrate as my tendency is to do it on the ball of my foot. Maybe I just need to learn some disciplineimage
  • With decent shoes the pressure is spread over the foot. I know my carbon soles do this. Whether its enough for your condition is another thing.

    If you clipped in at the heel I'm not sure how you'd unclip ?
  • That is a good point...
  • joddlyjoddly ✭✭✭

    Could you offload the offending sesamoid with a cutout in an orthotic, and then use a normal cleat position?

  • Spot the medic   image

  • If you were told not to run on the balls of your feet would you go out and run on your heels?

  • Medic spotted image

    That is a good idea. We did cut out originally in my normal shoes to no avail so orthotics got set up in other ways to help with walking. But I never tried them for cycling. I guess the loading is different with cycling making it worth a try too.

    Thanks all - will look at Darkness' suggestion and try a cutout in the meantime.
  • Jelly Bean - to a certain extent I would yes. I have been told never to forefoot land so I heel strike, or I would except that now even that brings crippling pain so I am facing up to never running again - something I was told 5 months ago and have tried my damnest to do anything to avoid. I know that if I cycle with the ball of my foot after a few minutes I am in pain. Right now the alternative is to give up on cycling too.

    If you were told you couldn't run or cycle what would you do?

    Yes, this may be a stupid idea, which is why I am grateful for the advice I am getting.
  • Don't forget that you'll effectively reduce your leg length by moving the cleat closer to your heel, so lower your saddle accordingly. image

  • Princess Leah wrote (see)
    I know that if I cycle with the ball of my foot after a few minutes I am in pain. Right now the alternative is to give up on cycling too.

    If you were told you couldn't run or cycle what would you do?

    I'd find another physio.   I can't remember any cyclist or footballer ever having to give up their career because of sesamoiditis so there must be a way of recovering from it so you can continue sport.

      What is the physio saying is causing the problem, bending the toes/foot or pressure on the ball of the foot from the pedal?    if it's pressure something as simple as a different shoe, pedal, a change of  cleat position or even saddle height or fore/aft position could alter the locus of pressure enough to solve the problem without pedalling with your heel.   Some pedals allow you to alter the q factor and pronation/supination - some of the old Look Delta pedals did and I think some Time ones.    I'd go to someone like Martin Early who was a pro cyclist and is now a physio - they are more likely to get it sorted and will realise things like pedalling with the heel are really not long term solutions.   



  • +1 with pops - go get a 2nd opinion

    you could also try Pyro platforms   designed with duathletes in mind, it gives a more stable platform to ride on compared with standard non-spd pedals but means you can wear normal running shoes which will be more cushioned for you and may therefore not impact on the seamoiditis.

    just a thought

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