Cycling is a popular form of exercise, enjoyment, and even economical, environmentally-friendly commuting to school or work. It provides cardiovascular benefits and conditioning for most of the body; however, cycling takes its toll on the feet, ankles, and lower legs, as they are in constant motion while pedaling to keep the bicycle moving.
To reduce the chance of injury during cycling, it is important to keep the hips, knees, ankles, and feet in proper alignment, as well as to build up gradually to longer distances and faster speeds without doing too much too soon. The feet and ankles can suffer from general pain from overuse to problems such as Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and sesamoiditis. Wearing proper footwear while cycling can also help prevent injury. For most cyclists, a regular walking, running, or cross-training sneaker offers plenty of support. Look for a sole that provides the right amount of firmness and grip to avoid the foot slipping off the pedal.
For more serious cyclists, shoes specifically designed for cycling should be worn. Cycling shoes designed for road cycling and racing have a tight fit around the heel and bridge areas, as well as stiff sole, to restrict movement inside the shoe. This keeps the foot movement focused on powering the pedals. Serious road or racing cyclists usually use a toe clip or cycling shoe with cleats that attach the foot to the pedal; these allow for more power to transfer from the leg to the pedal as the cyclist pedals. Make sure laces, buckles, and straps are snugly secured so they do not become entangled in the pedals or pedal toe clips. For mountain biking, the shoes should have a more rugged sole and tread for a better pedal grip. Breathable materials will provide proper ventilation for the feet. When trying on cycling shoes, be sure to wear the actual socks you will use while cycling to ensure a proper fit.