In cycling, the foot is integral in the transfer of force through the bottom of the shoe. Shoes and regular orthotics and insoles aim to inhibit all foot movement and treat the foot like a lever.
Over time, the muscles of the foot atrophy which causes the bones of the foot to collapse onto the nerve endings and blood supply. Not addressing this early enough can lead to severe problems such as plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia, and Moreton’s neuroma.
Other indications of damaged foot muscles are temperature control issues where the feet either are too hot or too cold.
The cyclist is in a fixed position, it is difficult to change the angle of attack of force application as there is limited ankle mobility. The longitudinal contraction and expansion of the foot act like a spring and is necessary for effective force transferal through the bottom of the foot.
Reference: The Role of Arch Compression and Metatarsophalangeal Joint Dynamics in Modulating Plantar Fascia Strain in Running. (National Library of Medicine)
In addition to the above, stronger foot muscles also help to maintain the symmetry of the rest of the body…
As an example, we assisted a cyclist whose knees kept rolling inward and hitting the top tube on the downstroke. Most people compensate for this by lifting the inside of the foot upward. However, this has the potential to exacerbate the problem as the knee is forced to do even more work as the foot is rendered useless.
Some cycle shoe brands cant their shoes in this fashion in the manufacturing process for this very reason. Our solution was to place the 2620’s in our cyclist’s shoe with a low arch piece positioned in the forward arch. Right behind the ball of the foot.
This enabled the foot to contract and then expand longitudinally before pronating slightly and expelling the force through the ball of the foot. Now the knee no longer thought it had to take over this action and stopped rolling inward toward the top tube.
As the cyclist continued to wear the 2620’s, they experienced continued improvements in both biomechanical symmetry and power output as the feet continued to become stronger and more efficient.