Assymetric foot positioning

Twilkes

Veteran
I use flat pedals for commuting and leisure rides, and have noticed that while my left foot stays in the position I would expect if I were clipped in (i.e. pedal pivot under the ball of the foot or slightly behind) the right foot continually moves further forward, so the pedal pivot is much closer to halfway along the foot. It feels comfortable cycling like that but I can also feel the extra power/effort if I move my right foot to mirror the left foot. But it just won’t stay there.

What does this asymmetry say about the muscles I’m using to pedal, or my positioning on the bike?
 

Globalti

Legendary Member
Nobody can tell you without seeing you on the bike, actually pedalling. Have you tried clip-in pedals? They do make you more effcient but can cause knee problems if not set up right.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
A lot of people have a significant leg length discrepancy. That might be the case for you?

My left leg is quite a lot shorter than my right leg. That affects me on the bike. When I used a shoe/pedal system with external cleats (Look type) I put a shim under the left cleat to ease the problem. Not really possible with the MTB (SPD) system that I use now.

In my case the cleats stop my feet moving forward on the pedals, but my body twists instead.

colinj-twisted-on-bike-jpg.jpg
 

mudsticks

Obviously an Aubergine
In tens of years of observing other peoples bodies, and how they move and use them I have never come across anyone who is not asymmetrical to a greater or lesser degree.

It may be that you push down harder with your right leg, or that leg extends more, it may be a greater or lesser degree of flexibility in the hip that's making you do this, or a slight tilt in the pelvis.

It could even be originating further up in more developed back or abdominal muscles, on one side.


I was thinking about all this on my ride yesterday.

And particularly how tight the frontal groins must become on pro sports cyclists. Working in that hinged forward at the hips position the whole time.

I'm always noticing how rounded their backs look, which can't be so good for them.

The fact that you've noticed this is happening for you is a good thing.

I'd advise concentrating on keeing both feet in the same place so as not to exacerbate the unequal working on either side of the body.

I too, am a flat pedal rider.. I think there is something more body mechanically positive in not having the foot in the same place, on the pedal all the time..

Plus on uneven ground (most Devon back lanes) it feels safer.

You've already paid attention to how you're using your body.. I'd say, just keep doing that, and make that observation, and correction a good habit.
 
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mudsticks

Obviously an Aubergine
A lot of people have a significant leg length discrepancy. That might be the case for you?

My left leg is quite a lot shorter than my right leg. That affects me on the bike. When I used a shoe/pedal system with external cleats (Look type) I put a shim under the left cleat to ease the problem. Not really possible with the MTB (SPD) system that I use now.

In my case the cleats stop my feet moving forward on the pedals, but my body twists instead.

View attachment 476544
It's definitely the case that a few people have one leg longer than the other.
But it's fairly rare that it's actually the bone itself.
It's far more common that the muscles have learnt to extend more, or less due the work they've done.
Which makes the leg, feel or appear shorter, then the pelvis tilts, as a result of this, then the spine us no longer centralised, then the neck is thrown out of alignment.. And so on..
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
Nothing but nothing is more important than comfort when it comes to your set up. If you're comfy, not suffering any consequential aches and pains elsewhere, and your set up is efficient enough to keep you moving forward at a decent rate of knots then I wouldn't sweat it.
 

Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
I am no bike fit or health professional but I would say based on MY experience that this is not an issue. I have to set my cleats up differently as my right foot naturally works with more toe-out angle.

Sit on the kitchen counter with your legs hanging over and relax. Any difference?
 
OP
Twilkes

Twilkes

Veteran
Sit on the kitchen counter with your legs hanging over and relax. Any difference?
Well it makes it much harder to go up hills. ;)

I had a physio a while back who measured my legs and while there was a slight difference they said it wasn’t really enough to warrant changing anything, using shoe inserts etc. That’s why I thought it was maybe a weakness in one leg, or overcompensation in the other.

It’s only ever really a problem if I’m tired and the left leg seems to start doing much more work, or going up steep hills where I tend to focus on keeping my upper half still and the lower half can do what it wants anyway, so yes it’s probably not a problem. Thanks all.
 

mudsticks

Obviously an Aubergine
I am no bike fit or health professional but I would say based on MY experience that this is not an issue. I have to set my cleats up differently as my right foot naturally works with more toe-out angle.

Sit on the kitchen counter with your legs hanging over and relax. Any difference?
A better way of measuring total leg length without any stresses on them is to lie down with your bum against the wall , and stretch your legs up the wall - get someone to observe the height of your heels - or if you're careful put a book or similar on your feet and see if it is tilted.
 

Gravity Aided

Legendary Member
Location
Land of Lincoln
All humans are assymetrical. If you took a mirror, and made it so the left side of your face was the reflection of the right side, you'd have a hard time recognizing yourself. Muscles adapt in all sorts of ways to the stress of exercise. I would say to see a physio if this bothers you, or hampers your riding.
But otherwise, I would just accept the fact that all people are unique, and we all approach the bicycle in unique ways. A good bike fit might be an idea as well., but only if your stance on the bicycle becomes a problem in how you use the bike.
 

MichaelW2

Veteran
Even though we are asymmetrical, you can aim to make your riding style more symmetrical, avoiding the leaning and bobbing around. Practice spinning pedals to low resistance ie low gear and adjust your body.
 
OP
Twilkes

Twilkes

Veteran
Even though we are asymmetrical, you can aim to make your riding style more symmetrical, avoiding the leaning and bobbing around. Practice spinning pedals to low resistance ie low gear and adjust your body.
That's interesting, because in low gears and e.g. with a tail wind I don't have the problem, it's only when my legs need to push harder that the right foot slips backwards. It's maybe a flaw in technique rather that I should keep an eye on. I'll try it on the way home tonight, but like circular pedalling I'll probably think 'Hey that feels great and powerful, I should do this all the time!' and then 30 seconds later think 'Actually that's quite hard work, let's go back to the way it was.' :smile:
 

SuperHans123

Formerly known as snertos999
I ride on platform pedals and my foot is planted right across the platform, a la BLOBBOFOOT!
Most comfy position for me.
dmr-vault-pedals-red-EV150645-3000-1.jpg
 
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