Has anyone managed to change their pedalling technique?

Twilkes

Veteran
I'm a toe-pointer rather than a heel-dropper, which I think means I use more calf and less glute. My glutes are pretty big so would be good to use them a bit more, but from what I've read every cyclist is different and three of the biggest cyclists in history (don't remember their names) have been a toe-pointer, a heel-dropper and a somewhere-in-the-middle, so wondering whether I should just stay as I am. Been cycling long enough that my body has adjusted to what it thinks is best.

When I've tried to focus on dropping my heel more it has felt weird and a bit achey on the quads, and as if too much force is being put through the knees - I know that any change is going to use muscles in a new way so I shouldn't expect it to feel perfect right away, but how long should it take to click in place?

FWIW, on climbs I lean back and feel like I'm pushing more through my heels, but this just doesn't feel right at 90rpm cadence on a flat road.
 

T.M.H.N.E.T

Disc brakes - Stopping things since 1902
Location
Northern Ireland
No. It happens, I don't overthink it
 

Heltor Chasca

Out-Riding the Black Dog
I dropped my seat post a smidge and now I have a more neutral foot position. They did point and the back of my knee would hurt on occasion. No more of that now. The bike fit gurus will tell you you can change things with cleat position. I have mine set right back for other reasons.
 

Ian H

I am an ancient randonneur, & I stop often for tea
Location
East Devon
As long as you're pedalling circles and not 'climbing stairs', I shouldn't worry too much.
 

PaulSB

Legendary Member
I've no idea what is correct but I changed my technique from being a toe-pointer to this. I keep my feet flat, as my toes reach the 4.00 o'clock position I pull up with my heel. I pedal in circles and try to avoid pushing hard down to the 6.00 o'clock position.

This works for me and feels smooth and comfortable. It took a long time, perhaps a year, to train my body to do this automatically. Initially I had to concentrate hard on the technique and then slowly as the months went by I found myself slipping back to toe-pointing less and less.
 

SkipdiverJohn

Über Member
Location
London
Yellow Saddle said:
It is all BS. Go for a ride, drink a beer and take photos.
I'm inclined to agree. I read years ago about "ankling" pedalling techniques supposedly being better - but when I tried it myself it just felt unnatural and certainly didn't make me go faster of cut fatigue. I soon gave up on that and reverted to normal pedalling which just comes naturally and doesn't require thinking about.
When I see cyclists either toe-pointing or riding heels down or riding on the instep, my immediate thought is that they have got their saddle height incorrectly adjusted. Toe-pointers having their saddle too high, and heel downers being too low.
 

vickster

Legendary Member
I’ve had to ditch SPDs and go to flats and pedal on instep or heel. Simply because now I can’t pedal on my toes on flats or clipped in as I don’t have enough flexion in my knee. It’s excruciatingly painful if I try!
 
OP
Twilkes

Twilkes

Veteran
Thanks for the views - I started a few threads recently and they all probably refer eventually to the same issue of bike fit/positioning, which seems to link heavily with technique. Probably fifteen years ago I was reading about 'scrape' pedalling and putting that into action felt more effective with ball-over-spindle position and a toe point, so that's what I gravitated towards, increasing saddle height to compensate.

But recently I've started moving my foot further backwards on the pedals to get them flatter, with a slightly lower saddle, which should use more glutes and less calves. While it feels not as effective at the moment I'll maybe try to do a Strava comparison as it could just be my calves/ankles not doing as much work that makes me think I can't possibly be going as quick. It does feel like less work.

These were interesting reads, although I'm not totally convinced by the third one:

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/05/pedalling-technique-what-is-best/

https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/04/power-to-the-pedal-cleat-position/

https://www.bikejames.com/strength/do-you-really-need-to-push-through-the-ball-of-your-foot-when-you-pedal/

I understand the 'relax, drink beer' perspective, but if I can do things that enable me to cycle further or for longer, or not be as fatigued the next day, then it's worth it to me because I get to see more of the country I live in.
 

mudsticks

Über Member
I try to vary angle of ankle to a degree.

Neutral position 30% heel drop 30% toe point 30%..(yeah right - in my alternative life)

But in all seriousness I think being a relentless toe pointer could lead to shortened calf muscles, and tightened achilles tendons..

In fact I think something like this happened to me on a longish tour some while back.
They were inflamed for a few weeks after

I have thought about it all a lot more the last ten days I've been riding, and I've had no problems..
In addition to making sure I do my stretches morning and evening.

I ride flats though so maybe different scenario if you are clipped.
Another thing I do is try to lighten the up stroke leg so as to reduce resistance / unnecessary effort.

It's hard to stay totally focused on this, but I think it is worthwhile..

Also at the same time, just ride.. And drink beer as well.. But not too much til you've finished for the day maybe ..
 
OP
Twilkes

Twilkes

Veteran
But in all seriousness I think being a relentless toe pointer could lead to shortened calf muscles, and tightened achilles tendons..

In fact I think something like this happened to me on a longish tour some while back.
They were inflamed for a few weeks after.
Yeah the reason I started looking at it was a calf cramp/mild pulled muscle after a climb and descent. And I use flats so have the option of trying lots of pedal positions quite quickly.
 
Top Bottom