A newer member of my cycling club jumped on our Yahoo group with a question.

“I am having some pain in the outside of my right foot that has been slowly building over the past few weeks,” he wrote. “I used custom orthotics (pronator) when I used to run to alleviate plantars. Unfortunately those orthotics are too thick to fit in my cycling shoes. I found some footbed systems from Gyro and Specialized on line that provide some additional arch suport.

Has anyone had similar issues and what did you do to solve it?”
I’m always interested when I hear people complain about foot pain. I went through that mess several years ago, when I started cycling. In my case, the problem was a poor quality bike shoe. Once I got a pair of Specialized Body Geometry shoes, my foot problems ceased. But his pronation problems are different than the complaints I had with my feet. I waited to see what other club members had to say.
“I use the Specialized inserts and they are excellent,” opined one fellow. No details.
“I too use Specialized inserts,” said another. “They form fit and last a good while. However, if you are a pronator you may need a custom orthotic.
“Also there are several options for increasing your Q factor (distance between pedals) to offset the ankles. I use 25mm Knee savers (they come in stainless at 30mm too and 20mm Titanium). But you can also just purchase longer spindles for Speedplay pedals and possibly others too. “
Knee savers. Hadn’t heard about them for awhile, and I didn’t know this rider was using them. I wrote a post about them several years ago. I’m not sure they’re the kind of relief the original poster was looking for, though.
“Try the Sole thin footbeds on Amazon,” wrote one of our better female riders. “You heat them in the oven and then custom mold them to your feet. They work really well imho, I use them in my cycling shoes and love them.” She supplied a link to the item.
I don’t use orthotics, but I do have insoles in a pair of my walking shoes. I love the extra comfort they give. When riding a bike, though, the relatively flat insoles that come with the shoes are adequate for me. I’ve experimented with insoles in my biking shoes, and find I don’t need them.
But what about you? What kind of advice would you give the original poster? Do you have custom orthotics for your bike shoes, or do you use the moldable insoles, or just off-the-rack from Dr. Sholl’s things?


  1. Andy Mazer says

    I have fairly pronounced pronation, so I’ve used arch supporting footbeds like Superfeet in my walking/hiking shoes for years. When I started road biking again in my early 50s (about 6 or 7 years ago), I bought a pair of blue Specialized inserts. Specialized makes 3 levels of inserts, with blue being the more subtle and green being the more extreme pronation corrector.

    The blue worked for me until a couple of years ago, when I started getting knee pain. I picked up a pair of Knee Savers, which initially seemed to help mitigate the pain, but that probably was just the placebo effect, as the pain did resume rather quickly.

    I then got a pair of green inserts after I got a comprehensive bike fit. The green inserts definitely take up more room within the shoe, but my shoes had enough room for them if I went to a very thin sock (I had been using medium weight socks). However, with these green insoles, my right pinky toe rubs on the outside of the shoe, so I have to apply a small patch of moleskin before each ride..l not a big deal tho.

    At the same time, I’ve been experimenting with joint relief supplements. I’ve taken various glucosamine/chondrointin concoctions with no obvious benefits. A few months ago, I started using MoveFree Ultra tabs, which use an alternative (collagen and something else), which actually do seem to be helping.

    So, I guess my point is that seeking pain relief for feet or knees is a process, and definitely no one size fits everbody. In my case, I have obviously been using several tools– supplements, Knee Savers and arch supports to address discomfort. Fortunately, none of these are too expensive, and the only way to know what works best for you is to experiment.

    I’ll never know how much the Knee Savers might be helping my knee pain, but at least my knees no longer bump into my top tube micro-bag when I stand out of my saddle!

  2. says

    After two x-rays and an MRI, all of which were “inconclusive”, I finally had to take six months off from cycling. During that six months I also spent five weeks wearing an air cast. I recently started cycling again this past May and have had to work my way up from 5 mile rides to (easy) 25 mile rides. Over the last two months I’ve been adding more speed and exertion to my rides. I haven’t had any more foot pain as of yet. I also try to avoid riding on consecutive days when possible and that seems to have helped. I really hate the feeling that I’m riding along on a “ticking bomb” and am now hyper-sensitive to every little twitch in my feet. It got to the point where I had to choose between being able to work (outside, on my feet all day) or riding and I now appreciate every ride more than ever. Anyway… please keep everyone posted on what your fellow club member finds out about his situation since it will benefit a lot of us. Thanks!

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