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Orthotic inserts in road shoes - how important?

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Orthotic inserts in road shoes - how important?

Old 11-12-19, 11:01 PM
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MinnMan
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Orthotic inserts in road shoes - how important?

Maybe this really belongs in another subforum, but it's not really a "Bike" fit issue, so....

I'm old enough so that I have foot pain that can be pretty debilitating at times, but the main culprit is walking, not riding. I've been wearing orthotic inserts in my street shoes and they help a lot. For riding, the pain is usually not acute and at times it isn't there at all, but I figure I should get it right, so I've been experimenting with insoles in my road shoes. In truth, I've been experimenting on and off for a couple of years, but recent changes in my foot pain (again, chiefly related to walking) are making me think about it again.

This is probably obvious, but just going to the LBS and being "measured" for the right insole doesn't necessarily work because different shoes have different amounts of arch support built in. At an LBS that handles Specialized merchandise, they measured me and decided that I needed the largest amount of arch support (+++ for Body Geometry insoles). In fact, that seems pretty comfortable in my Specialized shoes, but it's far too much of an arch in my Sidis, which seem to have a higher built-in arch.

So, trial and error seems to be the way to go, trying different insoles (both brands and thicknesses) to see which is the most comfortable.

But some questions for the bf hive mind:

1. I wonder if arch support is really that important for road shoes in the first place? The shoes are so stiff that my foot doesn't really flex at all during the pedal stroke. If there's a space between the shoe and my arch, I'm not sure it makes much of a difference. What say you?

2. If I do use inserts, it seems to me that erring on the side of having too much arch support is far worse than having none at all. With too thick an insole, the shoe arch is acting as a fulcrum and my foot being stretched and pushed in ways that are probably more harmful than having no insert at all. So short of finding the insert that miraculously fits just right (maybe it's out there), somewhat too-little support is better than having too much. Yes?
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Old 11-13-19, 02:40 AM
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The amount of work your arch is doing depends on how much you’re pushing with your toes/forefoot instead of your heel. I think if you don’t have a secure heel up and have your cleat too far forward, it can cause issues with your arch.

I experimented with arch support because I would get arch pain despite having low-mid arches. I found that I basically traded one pain for another. It felt like the arch support was foam rolling my arches every time I pushed the pedals.

I also found that many orthotics increased the stack under the heel a lot, compromising the heel cup to the point of making the shoe unusable, and ironically exacerbating arch engagement.

My very uninformed opinion would be to find a shoe that totally locks in your heel, move your cleat closer to midfoot, and use as little arch support as you can.
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Old 11-13-19, 08:06 AM
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If you have significant foot issues and discomfort, you may want to consider going with custom or semi-custom shoes with custom orthotics. I have two pairs of semi-custom Riivos and one full-custom pair, all with custom orthotics. They are awesome.

Yes, they were expensive. I've had the first pair for about 6 years now and it is still my main pair. And when you consider how many hours I spend on a bike each year, it's down right cheap for the comfort they provide - or rather lack of discomfort.
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Old 11-13-19, 08:23 AM
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For many riders, arch supports are critically important. They've made a huge difference for me. Here is an excellent, extended explanation:

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...-arch-support/
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Old 11-14-19, 10:47 AM
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+1 Steve Hogg's take on arch support, 'tho it takes a bit of digging.

My summary:
- arches collapse slightly during hard efforts, causing ankles to roll inward and effects on up the chain.
- arch support helps offset that, maintaining alignment.
- arch support should be higher than for walking shoes, since the feet don't flex in walking motion in stiff cycling shoes.
- adjust amount to how long you feel it after putting on shoes- should be noticeable for some minutes at least.
- DIY is effective- tape pieces of bar tape or cork gasket material to bottom of insole.

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Old 11-14-19, 12:17 PM
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I had a great deal of pain in the little toes of my left foot. May not be directly related to your situation, but here's what I did.
1) moved the cleat all the way rearward.
2) positioned the cleat side-to-side such that my heel would not rotate outward from the bike much at all.
3) got a pair of generic insoles.
4) shimmed my cleat 2 degrees.

Pain almost non-existent now, except on very long rides (for me )

Glenn
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Old 11-14-19, 03:32 PM
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Try ProFoot Miracle insoles. Best I've found at any price, and cost only $8-$10.

Thin, lightweight, resilient, perfect for my needs. They fit in my snug fitting Scott Road Pro shoes without cramping the narrow, low toe box. And with my roomier Fizik Tempo shoes with larger toe box, the insoles leave enough room for thicker winter socks.

I've had foot problems since I was a kid -- high arches, very narrow feet, little padding on the soles. I'd get arch cramps, hotspots on the metatarsals, the works. Custom orthotics weren't as good as the ProFoot Miracle.

My little toes tend to lose circulation and get numb even in warm weather if there's too much pressure on the top of the foot. The Miracle insole is so thin it doesn't cause that problem. With other insoles, like Dr. Scholl's, I usually need 3/4 length insoles that don't extend the full length of the toe box.
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Old 11-14-19, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Try ProFoot Miracle insoles. Best I've found at any price, and cost only $8-$10.

Thin, lightweight, resilient, perfect for my needs. They fit in my snug fitting Scott Road Pro shoes without cramping the narrow, low toe box. And with my roomier Fizik Tempo shoes with larger toe box, the insoles leave enough room for thicker winter socks.

I've had foot problems since I was a kid -- high arches, very narrow feet, little padding on the soles. I'd get arch cramps, hotspots on the metatarsals, the works. Custom orthotics weren't as good as the ProFoot Miracle.

My little toes tend to lose circulation and get numb even in warm weather if there's too much pressure on the top of the foot. The Miracle insole is so thin it doesn't cause that problem. With other insoles, like Dr. Scholl's, I usually need 3/4 length insoles that don't extend the full length of the toe box.
Those are exactly the ones I use, I think from an earlier post in which you recommended them.

I my particular case with the little toe issue, the main fix was the 2 degree shim.

Glenn
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Old 11-14-19, 04:05 PM
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Pedaling a bike is repetitous in the extreme. I would guess hat the most common problem is when the alignment of the leg and pedal is eccentric laterally which is likely to cause a problem at he knees with long term use. In such a case, orthotics would restore alignment and prevent long term damage. This has been the situation for me with a troublesome right knee that tends to brush the top tube. Inn addition to Sole heat moldable foot beds, I've built up under the arch for extra support until the knee is seen to be tracking straight up and down.
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Old 11-14-19, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
+1 Steve Hogg's take on arch support, 'tho it takes a bit of digging.

My summary:
- arches collapse slightly during hard efforts, causing ankles to roll inward and effects on up the chain.
- arch support helps offset that, maintaining alignment.
- arch support should be higher than for walking shoes, since the feet don't flex in walking motion in stiff cycling shoes.
- adjust amount to how long you feel it after putting on shoes- should be noticeable for some minutes at least.
- DIY is effective- tape pieces of bar tape or cork gasket material to bottom of insole.

^this

Originally Posted by berner View Post
Pedaling a bike is repetitous in the extreme. I would guess hat the most common problem is when the alignment of the leg and pedal is eccentric laterally which is likely to cause a problem at he knees with long term use. In such a case, orthotics would restore alignment and prevent long term damage. This has been the situation for me with a troublesome right knee that tends to brush the top tube. Inn addition to Sole heat moldable foot beds, I've built up under the arch for extra support until the knee is seen to be tracking straight up and down.
Because of this.

I have a background is fitting ski boots for alpine racers where a lot of similar problems occur but the fit is even more precise.

What happens when you put pressure on your foot is that the arch natural changes shape to act a little like a suspension system. That's great for walking but if you have high arches and they are subjected to the pressures found in cycling (and alpine skiing) they will compress downwards and cause fit issues in the shoe. Your shoe lacing is fairly static and is generally tightened when you're not pressuring the foot so when you do pressure it, the arch starts to compress and the shoe is then loose. That can lead to all sorts of mischief in fit and foot position. Obviously, if you tighten your shoe to the point where that won't happen, you're going to be in a lot of pain over the long haul if you can even stand it in the short haul.

Frequent problems with this "loose in the shoe under power" phenomena is that your foot will slide to the inside or outside often causing pain that is hard to make go away by fooling with other things. If you properly support the foot, the sliding stops. In ski boots, this is critical for good edge control. Often times when someone with a high arch but no insoles but the crappy stock ones in their ski boots goes to a custom insole, they start catching and edge everywhere because they now have edge control that they didn't have before. For beginning racers, this is a very big deal and a major speed trick.

The solution is to fill in under the arch - hence the need for insoles. The insoles need to match your arch closely. If, for example, you have a high arch and you put in a low arch support insole, you'll have problems to the degree that there is space between your arch and the insole. So getting this fit right is important. To a lesser degree, you can have the same problem with the metatarsal arch (google it and look at the foot anatomy). Often that needs support as well and is frequently the source of the hot pain in the front of the shoe/ski boot. There are insoles out there with a metatarsal arch "bump" that can be huge in helping problems in the front of the foot.

What I do is by SOLE insoles. They are heat moldable but I think their method of heating up the insole and standing on it is silly because you compress the arch when you really want the arch supported. What I do is get out a heat gun and spot heat the areas that I want to form and then manipulate the insole with my fingers and the handle end of a screwdriver. That permits me to get a metatarsal arch that I want and I generally have a pretty good fit to their high arch version. You can get them in thin version for close fitting shoes like those for cycling.

The other arch that has worked really well for me is one from Sweden called ICEBUG. They have a very thin version with a prominent but soft metatarsal bump. Use these in my Sidi carbon soled shoes that are a very close fit and they work great.

J.
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Old 11-14-19, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Try ProFoot Miracle insoles. Best I've found at any price, and cost only $8-$10.

Thin, lightweight, resilient, perfect for my needs. They fit in my snug fitting Scott Road Pro shoes without cramping the narrow, low toe box. And with my roomier Fizik Tempo shoes with larger toe box, the insoles leave enough room for thicker winter socks.

I've had foot problems since I was a kid -- high arches, very narrow feet, little padding on the soles. I'd get arch cramps, hotspots on the metatarsals, the works. Custom orthotics weren't as good as the ProFoot Miracle.

My little toes tend to lose circulation and get numb even in warm weather if there's too much pressure on the top of the foot. The Miracle insole is so thin it doesn't cause that problem. With other insoles, like Dr. Scholl's, I usually need 3/4 length insoles that don't extend the full length of the toe box.
Obviously, my foot problems are different from yours, but moldable shoe beds seem like a possibly good solution to the problem I raised- getting the arch support to be just right, not too high or too low....
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Old 11-14-19, 06:24 PM
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Podiatrists aren't very expensive and may have insight worth hearing.
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Old 11-14-19, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Podiatrists aren't very expensive and may have insight worth hearing.
I've been to more than one over the years. They have differing opinions about plenty of things. They would all agree that orthotics are a good idea. Certatinly for street shoes. For cycling, they may know less, and aren't necessarily aware about the ins and outs. Some are very enthusiastic about custom orthotics available from their clinic...... Short of that, they don't exactly offer a custom fitting. They just point in the direction of reputable retailers. So it's still on the customer/patient to work things out.
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Old 11-15-19, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Obviously, my foot problems are different from yours, but moldable shoe beds seem like a possibly good solution to the problem I raised- getting the arch support to be just right, not too high or too low....
If you want to experiment a bit, try some moldable putty that stays soft and pliable. Blu Tack gum, Scotch removable mounting putty and others may work for building up an arch support for each foot. It might be more comfortable under a thin cushioned insole.

These putties are really handy. Among other uses, I'm currently using both Blu Tack and Scotch putty on my helmets to hold the mounting shoes for my Drift Ghost X video camera. The original adhesive for the mounting shoes was intended for use on motorcycle helmets and didn't put the camera where I wanted on my bicycle helmets. I wanted to mount them as far back as possible to avoid neck strain (old C1-C2 injury). This required building up the putty to put the shoe at the desired angle. I intended this to be a temporary fix but I've been using it for a couple of months without problems -- hot and cold weather, light rain. It can still be remolded if needed or to restore the preferred angle so the camera records where I'm looking.
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Old 11-15-19, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
^this



Because of this.

I have a background is fitting ski boots for alpine racers where a lot of similar problems occur but the fit is even more precise.

What happens when you put pressure on your foot is that the arch natural changes shape to act a little like a suspension system. That's great for walking but if you have high arches and they are subjected to the pressures found in cycling (and alpine skiing) they will compress downwards and cause fit issues in the shoe. Your shoe lacing is fairly static and is generally tightened when you're not pressuring the foot so when you do pressure it, the arch starts to compress and the shoe is then loose. That can lead to all sorts of mischief in fit and foot position. Obviously, if you tighten your shoe to the point where that won't happen, you're going to be in a lot of pain over the long haul if you can even stand it in the short haul.

Frequent problems with this "loose in the shoe under power" phenomena is that your foot will slide to the inside or outside often causing pain that is hard to make go away by fooling with other things. If you properly support the foot, the sliding stops. In ski boots, this is critical for good edge control. Often times when someone with a high arch but no insoles but the crappy stock ones in their ski boots goes to a custom insole, they start catching and edge everywhere because they now have edge control that they didn't have before. For beginning racers, this is a very big deal and a major speed trick.

The solution is to fill in under the arch - hence the need for insoles. The insoles need to match your arch closely. If, for example, you have a high arch and you put in a low arch support insole, you'll have problems to the degree that there is space between your arch and the insole. So getting this fit right is important. To a lesser degree, you can have the same problem with the metatarsal arch (google it and look at the foot anatomy). Often that needs support as well and is frequently the source of the hot pain in the front of the shoe/ski boot. There are insoles out there with a metatarsal arch "bump" that can be huge in helping problems in the front of the foot.

What I do is by SOLE insoles. They are heat moldable but I think their method of heating up the insole and standing on it is silly because you compress the arch when you really want the arch supported. What I do is get out a heat gun and spot heat the areas that I want to form and then manipulate the insole with my fingers and the handle end of a screwdriver. That permits me to get a metatarsal arch that I want and I generally have a pretty good fit to their high arch version. You can get them in thin version for close fitting shoes like those for cycling.

The other arch that has worked really well for me is one from Sweden called ICEBUG. They have a very thin version with a prominent but soft metatarsal bump. Use these in my Sidi carbon soled shoes that are a very close fit and they work great.

J.
When I first took up skiing, I read a book on ski instruction written by a man who was also a boot fitter. He had a detailed chapter on boot fitting and a link to the Green Mountain Orthotics Lab (GMOL) where I learned some more. With problem feet, the cure can be subtle. I was having a problem with "hot foot" with no clue on how too fix it. A metatarsal pad, as suggested in the book, instantly cured that problem. As you suggested, high performance shoes and boots, with a snug fit, will improve performance but also cause problems.
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Old 11-15-19, 10:02 AM
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When I ripped my plantar plate and was finally cleared to go back to spin class, I definitely felt it in my foot. I had to decrease my classes per week, and I always wear my orthotics!!! I removed the inner sole from my cleat in order to accommodate it. I have a bunch of shoes I wear for spin, and they all had removable inner soles.
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Old 11-15-19, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by SpinClassSara View Post
When I ripped my plantar plate and was finally cleared to go back to spin class, I definitely felt it in my foot. I had to decrease my classes per week, and I always wear my orthotics!!! I removed the inner sole from my cleat in order to accommodate it. I have a bunch of shoes I wear for spin, and they all had removable inner soles.
How long ago was that and how would you rate your recovery? If you use your orthotics, is your spinning and cycling limited now?
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Old 11-16-19, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
When I first took up skiing, I read a book on ski instruction written by a man who was also a boot fitter. He had a detailed chapter on boot fitting and a link to the Green Mountain Orthotics Lab (GMOL) where I learned some more. With problem feet, the cure can be subtle. I was having a problem with "hot foot" with no clue on how too fix it. A metatarsal pad, as suggested in the book, instantly cured that problem. As you suggested, high performance shoes and boots, with a snug fit, will improve performance but also cause problems.
Subtle is the watch word here. 1mm change in foot fit is a giant amount. There have been times when I have adjusted the arch height in a ski boot insole with a single pass of a file and it goes from
painful to perfect.
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Old 11-16-19, 09:56 AM
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Eventually I gave up with pedal systems. I use ordinary shoes and traditional pedals and my orthotics.

Oh, I also use shims under the innersole to deal with my pronation.
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Old 11-16-19, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
I've been to more than one over the years. They have differing opinions about plenty of things. They would all agree that orthotics are a good idea. Certatinly for street shoes. For cycling, they may know less, and aren't necessarily aware about the ins and outs. Some are very enthusiastic about custom orthotics available from their clinic...... Short of that, they don't exactly offer a custom fitting. They just point in the direction of reputable retailers. So it's still on the customer/patient to work things out.
In my college running days on the team, I had to go to the Podiatrist and got a custom fitted pair of orthotics. It was hard plastic made from a negative mold of my feet. They work fine for walking but not in running shoes. For cycling, I wear them, just because I can.

Not sure what's happening in today's Podistrist offices. But I would imagine Podistrists make their $$$ from surgical procedures like hammer toes. The inserts is just another part that's a bit more specific to the athletic types.

On another note: When I'm behind a group of riders, some riders have odd footwork. For instance, one foot will have a downward stroke as if the rider is a ballerina and the other foot more on a flat-even downstroke. I asked a kinesology major about that who had a narrowly defined response. With a flat-even downstroke, more muscle groups are deployed than compared with the toe type downstroke.

The other thing: the Speedplays that I use. I had the the bike mechanic adjust the float on my right foot to "keep it straight" so that I may re-train myself from the tendency to shift inwards.
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Old 11-18-19, 12:57 PM
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May was a year that I first started experiencing pain, but it's not a year since I was diagnosed - took 4 doctors to figure out what was wrong, plus an MRI, and that will be a year in December.

The initial doctor told me that "I'm not getting any younger" and not to train 6 days a week anymore - I was used to three days a week doing weights, interspersed with cycling, and one day off a week. He felt that "at my age" I should spin only twice a week, do weights twice a week, take another day a week off, and do pilates or similar on the last day.

I listened to him for a while, after my plantar plate tear was healed, of course. Now, I'm back to doing whatever I want. Sometimes my foot aches but I don't get real pain like I used to. Of course, sometimes it aches even on a weekend when I'm Netflixing and chilling too.
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Old 11-19-19, 07:33 AM
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I had a bout with plantar fasciitis (sp?) a few years ago. A cortisone shot was needed to clear it up. Also, the doc recommended some insoles, and I still continue to use them, as does my wife, who didn't have any problem except for foot pain. These are in anything that goes on my feet-work great for me: https://www.suprememed.com/powerstep...iABEgLgvPD_BwE
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Old 11-19-19, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
I've been to more than one over the years. They have differing opinions about plenty of things. They would all agree that orthotics are a good idea. Certatinly for street shoes. For cycling, they may know less, and aren't necessarily aware about the ins and outs. Some are very enthusiastic about custom orthotics available from their clinic...... Short of that, they don't exactly offer a custom fitting. They just point in the direction of reputable retailers. So it's still on the customer/patient to work things out.
Mine has been excellent, and has a lot of great insight into ski boots, things I can do in my down time to improve the condition, etc.
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Old 11-20-19, 03:10 AM
  #24  
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I've worn custom made orthotics originally made for me since 1978. One pair of semi-rigid for multi-direction movement, (tennis, basketball), and one pair of super rigid for straight-line road running and cycling. The original semi-rigid was replaced eight or nine years ago by ones electronically and pressure plate designed. The original rigid orthotics are made from the highest quality very strong hard German plastic and will last forever. I haven't run in decades and use the rigid just for cycling. I could not ride without them. However long or hard my ride is my feet never bother me in the slightest---period!

As for your situation, it cannot be answered by a Q&A in a forum. There are too many factors and most of them are personal to your foot and lower body mechanics that no one here can know. You need to see the proper professional.

Good luck!

Last edited by BengalCat; 11-20-19 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 11-20-19, 07:16 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
+1 Steve Hogg's take on arch support, 'tho it takes a bit of digging.

My summary:
- arches collapse slightly during hard efforts, causing ankles to roll inward and effects on up the chain.
- arch support helps offset that, maintaining alignment.
- arch support should be higher than for walking shoes, since the feet don't flex in walking motion in stiff cycling shoes.
- adjust amount to how long you feel it after putting on shoes- should be noticeable for some minutes at least.
- DIY is effective- tape pieces of bar tape or cork gasket material to bottom of insole.

LOL...your set up looks like mine other than for silver duct tape.
I use off the shelf, non-custom, "Sole" footbeds w/ ski boot compressed rubber arch support wedges (can be purchased for under $5 from a ski shop boot fitter to help prevent plantar fascia collapse/discomfort and to help pull the lil' toes away from the shoe edges. The two sets are removed and rotated between two pairs of 5-10s and a pair of cleated mtb cycling shoes for the road bike (to be able to walk, semi-normally and drive the car, when needed).
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