Steve Hogg Bike Fitting Team

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Post Series: Foot Correction

 Note:  Prior to reading this post, it is advisable that you read Basic Premise and Foot Correction part 1: Arch Support.


Having read the 2 posts mentioned above, you will understand the necessity for foot correction and the role that arch support plays.  Arch support eliminates or reduces a mechanical change (the dropping of the arch) to the feet while pedalling, and combined with the correct amount of wedging, subtly affects the relative alignment of all joints of the kinetic chain up to and including the hip.  When this is done perfectly, proprioceptive clarity from the feet is assured.  Optimising proprioceptive clarity from the feet is like a “yes” or “no” answer to a question.  There are no shades of ‘right or wrong’.  Either proprioceptive clarity is achieved or it is not, with the margin for error being 1 degree of correction (canting) too much or too little.

The difficulty in writing about this subject is that I cannot tell you the method I use to gain certainty as to the degree of wedging.  The method is the subject of patent applications (Update: patent granted in U.S., U.K &  New Zealand) in  and providing detail about the method in advance of patent grant will invalidate the patent.  Additionally, applying the method requires sensitivity and skill which can only be taught in person with 3weeks of training under supervision being about the minimum time required to pick up the process.  Which still allows me to say this…

Currently there are 3 brands of wedging available:  Bike Fit Systems and Specialized  and our own.  BFS developed the cleat wedges in 3 bolt, Speedplay 4 bolt and Mtb 2 bolt versions.  They also were the originator of an in shoe wedge that BFS now called the ITS (In The Shoe) wedge.  The original name was ‘Sole Power’ or something like that.

Specialized have a similar concept wedge to the BFS ITS and have a cleat wedge as well.  I’ve only seen 3 examples of the Specialized cleat wedge as it is relatively new to the market and have not yet made a judgement.  Of the 2 brands and various models, I will not use Specialized in shoe wedges because they present a Material Challenge to the nervous system. Before getting into that, we manufacture a heel wedge but more about that later.

A Material Challenge is when a product is composed of materials that have a negative effect on proprioceptive clarity.  It appears to me that Specialized copied the original BFS in shoe wedge without fully understanding the implications of their choice of materials.  What I’m saying is that X number of Specialized in shoe wedges provide the same degree of cant to the foot as X number of BFS in shoe wedges or X number of our heel wedges, but only at the cost of reducing the Central Nervous System’s (CNS) ability to ‘hear’ the feet.  Well, they’re not alone.  Other items that present a Material Challenge are Specialized cleat shims, LiveStrong and Live Free plastic bracelets and most other similar, charity type plastic bracelets as well as Power Balance plastic bracelets, many helmets, most CO2 cartridges, many smart phones and some sunglasses lens coatings and frames.

If you own any of these items or use Specialized in shoe wedges, by all means wear them or use them if that is what presses your buttons.  But I would suggest that you don’t wear them while riding a bike if long term injury free performance is your aim.  If you use these items, will you become injured?  In any individual case, only time will tell.  Your susceptibility to injury and the volume and intensity of your training play a large part in this.  What I am saying is that any using any product that presents a Material Challenge to the nervous system means that you are metaphorically skating on thinner ice than need be.  Whether the ice breaks resulting in injury cannot be known in advance.  But why heighten the risk?

Note: Regarding sunglasses lens coatings and frames, I’m seeing this more often, though now I’m aware of it, I’m looking for for it more.  There seems to be an individual component to this in the sense that a particular pair of glasses may have a negative effect on one person but not on another.  When a fit booking is made, we ask the intending client to bring their bike(s), knicks, shoes and walking / running orthoses if they use them.  To that list will now be added sunglasses or any prescription glasses that are worn on the bike.  As more data comes my way from this, I will sooner or later post on the subject. ( Update: see this post and this post on the subject )

This leaves BFS wedges or our heel wedges as the default option.  BFS wedges come in two varieties:

1. Cleat wedges which are designed to be placed between cleat and sole of shoe (3 bolt road and 2 bolt mtb type) or bolted within the layers of the cleat (Speedplay 4 bolt type)
2. ITS (In The Shoe) wedges which are fitted under the forefoot of a cycling shoe insole.

Our Steve Hogg Heel Wedges are fitted into the heel cup of a cycling shoe underneath the insole.

The first thing you need to wrap your head around, is that in many cases, each of these wedges is correcting the rear foot, directly or indirectly. In some cases cleat wedges and ITS wedges are correcting the forefoot directly.To talk about this more, I need to dwell on a commonly misunderstood term:  Forefoot Varus.  As it is used within cycling circles, the term and position is inaccurate though the method of correction using forefoot wedges is effective (sort of – more later) inside or under a cycle shoe.  True Forefoot Varus is rare and after speaking to several podiatrists with cumulative clinical experience of more than 70 years, they tell me that they have only seen a handful of true forefoot varus foot types.

To explain: Forefoot Varus is when the midtarsal joints are fixed.  No rotation into pronation or supination occurs around the long axis and it is fixed in a supinatory position.  Therefore the foot in a standing position or in a closed kinetic chain will pronate the rearfoot, normally to its end of joint range; that is 13 to 17 deg of heel eversion.  This foot type always has an extremely low arch and the medial malleolus and medial side of the ankle complex is very prominent.  However, it is easy to create a forefoot varus in a normal foot (with a flexible midfoot) if you do not load the lateral column; i.e, 4th and 5th metatarsals and cuboids; i.e; pronate.  This loading represents the force from the ground or from applying force to a pedal.

In a cycling shoe what is being corrected in many cases,indirectly via a cleat wedge or in shoe forefoot wedge; or directly via a heel wedge is rear foot varus.  The forefoot wedge, whether under cleat or inside the shoe corrects the rear foot because the heel is not fixed to the ground.  The important thing here is that if you try to correct rear foot varus by using forefoot wedges in normal walking gait when the heel is fixed on the ground, the midfoot will pronate around its long axis and damage joints by jamming them together.  This is not the case with varus wedges in cycle shoes or underneath a cleat as the heel is not fixed to the ground and is more or less in an open kinetic chain.  However, it may be preferable when using an in shoe forefoot wedge to add a rear foot wedge as well, especially if there is a large amount of Tibial varum.

With that understanding, it becomes apparent that wedging to correct the rear foot can be applied in 3 different locations or in any combination of them:

1.  Forefoot wedging using BFS ITS wedge

2.  Cleat wedging using BFS cleat wedge(or if using SPD mtb pedals, an option is the BFS VV1 cleat)

3.  Heel wedges placed under the heel of the shoe insole.  (pic below)  

A word of caution.  Regular readers will know that my view of foot correction in general is that optimal foot correction (wedging and arch support) is the only way to ensure that the proprioceptive feedback from the feet is heard loudly and clearly by the cerebellum while cycling. This in turn ensures the highest level of neuromuscular coordination and the lowest risk of developing overuse injuries because there is less need, or no need to compensate for lack of feedback.  I have developed a method of determining optimal foot correction; that is the correct balance of arch support, wedging and the placement of that wedging, that is the subject of patent applications in several countries, so I won’t go into detail. The research involved in developing that method tells me that a cleat wedge or a forefoot inshoe wedge will directly correct the forefoot if that is where the problem is and indirectly correct the rear foot because there is no rear foot contact with the pedal if the rear foot is where the problem lies. However, if the problem needing correction is a rear foot issue and it is corrected indirectly with cleat or inshoe forefoot wedges, the CNS response initially is fine. But over time, a week, a fortnight or occasionally, only a few days, the proprioceptive feedback from the feet becomes muted and is treated as background noise by the cerebellum. This happens because though wedge numbers may be optimal, wedge placement is not! This leaves the rider mechanically corrected but less well coordinated than would otherwise be the case.

Furthermore, a ton of time and experience with wedging has caused me to form the view that around 70%-75%  of riders need heel wedging, either alone or in combination with cleat wedging. Around 25%-30% need cleat wedging alone. There is a tiny, tiny minority that are best served with an inshoe forefoot wedge. Occasionally, and assuming Level 2 arch support is in place, I find someone that doesn’t need any wedging for one foot and more rarely, a client who doesn’t need wedging for either foot.

I prefer to use BFS ITS wedges as a diagnostic tool to help determine the number of wedges necessary. The value of an inshoe forefoot wedge is that it is a shotgun, not a stiletto. Because it is over the point of contact with the pedal, ITS wedges correct the forefoot directly and have an indirect effect on the rear foot of many, it is easy to determine wedge numbers (whereas a heel wedge will only correct the rear foot). Then a determination has to be made as to where to wedge.  The key thing to understand here is that cleat wedges are also like a shotgun. They affect everything; at least temporarily, and only temporarily in the majority of cases where heel wedges are needed.  Once the correct number of wedges is determined using in shoe wedges, then BFS ITS wedges equate one for one with the same number of BFS Cleat Wedges or Steve Hogg Heel Wedges in terms of corrective effect.  This demands further explanation and I’m not totally satisfied with what I’m about to say for reasons that I’ll explain; so if any one cares to contribute their 2 bob’s worth, please feel free.

A BFS ITS wedge has a taper of 1.5 degrees whereas a BFS Cleat Wedge or one of our Heel Wedges has a taper of 1 degree, yet they work one for one.  Why?

The best explanation I’ve got is that as the BFS ITS wedge is correcting the heel indirectly, to do so it requires any movement in the joints of the midfoot to be taken up before the corrective effect can reach the rear foot via a torsional load.  And that 50% more taper is needed per wedge for this indirect rear foot correction to achieve any given degree of cant of the rear foot as when using the same number of Cleat Wedges placed under a cleat (which cants the entire foot) or when using a Heel Wedge placed under the heel (which cants the heel directly).  The hole in this explanation which occurs to me and which has been pointed out to me several times by others as well, is that there has to be a limit to the amount of free movement in the joints of the midfoot, and that once that is taken up, any increase in ITS (1.5 degree taper per wedge) forefoot wedging should not be comparable to the same increase in number of Cleat Wedges (1.0 degree taper per wedge)…  Yet, proprioceptively speaking at least, it is.

Which is the best location for wedges?  A brief summation of my experiences follows:

Forefoot wedging using BFS ITS wedges


  • Quick and easy to change wedge numbers to assess the effects of wedging and to determine the ideal number of Cleat Wedges needed.
  • On rare occasions needs to be used for forefoot correction or as part of forefoot correction when  indicated.


  • Takes up often limited vertical space in the toebox, potentially causing hot foot and discomfort if more than 1 is used. Often this first becomes apparent on long rides such as Audax brevets and 12 and 24 hour mtb racing.
  • Poor choice if need to walk any distance in cycling shoes; i.e; in touring or mtb shoes for reasons outlined earlier in this post.

Cleat Wedging using BFS Cleat Wedges


  • Corrects fore foot directly but cants the entire foot.
  • Indirectly corrects the rear foot.
  • Doesn’t take up any space inside shoe.


  • If multiple 3 bolt cleat wedges used under cleat on carbon soled shoes, slippage of the cleat can occur unless cleat bolts torqued tightly and checked regularly.
  • A similar problem occurs if using multiple 2 bolt mtb cleat wedges.  Mtb cleats rely partly on projections on the underside of the cleat biting into the sole of the shoe for security against movement.  If more than one mtb cleat wedge is placed under an mtb cleat, the projections do not bite into the shoe sole and the risk of cleat slippage increases markedly.
  • In the 70% – 75% of cases where heel wedging is best practice, a cleat wedge will only prompt an optimal proprioceptive response temporarily.

Heel Wedging using Steve Hogg Heel Wedges.


  • My preference philosophically, because this method deals directly with the area that needs correction in most cases.
  • Avoids cleat slippage issues on 3 bolt and 2 bolt cleats.


  • A practical limit to how many can be fitted under heel before fit of heel in heel cup of shoe is compromised.  Usually 3presents no problem when fitted this way; 4 can be a problem in smaller size shoes and 5 only works well in large shoes without compromising fit. This is rarely an issue because the vast majority require between 0 and 2 heel wedges when used in conjunction with Level 2 arch support.
  • Of no help in the minority of cases where forefoot correction only is needed.

Which still leaves the question of how to determine the correct number of wedges, whatever their location?

I can’t answer in any way that is satisfactory because, as I said earlier, I need to protect the validity of patents pending.  Paul Swift, Mr. BikeFit (BFS) and the developer of the Cleat Wedge and ITS wedge uses a combination of observation (using laser line projectors as a reference), rider feedback and educated guess work to determine wedge numbers.  In the absence of my method which ensures certainty, this seems as good a method as any and better than most. However, my strong view formed from experience is that arch support comes first and is necessary before any wedging is attempted. Paul sells a device called the ForeFoot Measuring Device (FFMD) which quantifies the relative static alignment of forefoot to rear foot.  His company BikeFit, publishes recommendations which I’ve taken the liberty of cutting and pasting below:

0 – 2 degrees
3 – 7 degrees
1 wedge
8 – 12 degrees
Up to 2 wedges
12 – 20+ degrees
Up to 3 wedges

These recommendations are reasonably accurate plus or minus 1 wedge providing arch support has already been fitted at Level 2; mildly intrusive.

I need to qualify my statement of “reasonably accurate” for several reasons:

1.  The FFMD measures relative alignment statically, i.e; without load applied.  Usually the functional picture of what the foot is doing changes when load is applied. One mistake that many fitters make is to take a reading of say, 20 degrees and think “I need to use 3 wedges”.  Have a look again at the table.  For a 20 degree reading it says “Up to 3 wedges” NOT “Definitely use 3 wedges”.  What the FFMD is measuring is the static relationship between the plane of the forefoot and plane of the rear foot.  There is no close relationship between this and the amount of correction needed to optimally correct the rear foot (and occasionally the forefoot), particularly when Level 2 arch support is used.  For approximately 80% of cases my test gives results similar to the FFMD recommendations plus or minus 1 wedge, which is frankly, too much of a margin for error for my liking.  The other 20% vary, sometimes substantially.  The variance tends to be more common on the left foot than the right foot.


Because I’m testing the entire kinetic chain under load and most people (no correlation with handedness) favour and protect their right side on a bike. In the sense that if there is a challenge to their position (and there always is), the patterns of compensation that have evolved will typically protect the right side to a greater degree than the left side.  Any thoughtful bike fitter will have noted that there are more people complaining of left knee pain on a bike than right knee pain.  This is why.  More often than not, the rider autonomically protects the right side from a challenge but pays a price for this on the left side.  The greater frequency and degree of intervention on the left side is a product of this general pattern of globally compensating for the ‘favoured’ right side.  Do this on and off the bike for a life time, particularly when young, and there will be morphological differences between left and right side, not only in the in feet, but in how the body functions on each side that need addressing.  Note that I say “general pattern” not “universal pattern” as there are plenty of exceptions; probably 5 – 10%.

2.  I’ve had enough correspondence with Paul Swift in the past to know that he is fully aware that the table above is not necessarily accurate in any individual case.  It can’t be.  It is the product of his experience and is a means to give wedge users a starting point as to wedge numbers that they will likely benefit from at some level.  There is always an individual component to each case.  Wedging affects the relative relationship of the entire kinetic chain up and including the hip, whereas the FFMD measures the foot in isolation.  Don’t be scared to depart from the table recommendations, but have a reason for doing so; particularly if the reason is “X number of wedges in combination with arch support makes my feet feel more stable on the pedals on both sides and my knees seem to track better.”

In summary, the FFMD is a useful tool but don’t blindly follow the recommendations.  Think, observe and feel.

I realise now, that for many years I was not giving clients enough arch support, simply because the means available to me at the time didn’t allow it in most cases. During that period, and using an earlier version of my testing protocol, I was using an average of just under 6 wedges per rider (aggregate of wedging for both feet) with a bias towards the left foot.  Some figures from a typical year pre eSoles Supportive:

  • Average no. wedges per rider: 5.70
  • Average no. wedges for left foot: 2.98
  • Average no. wedges for right foot: 2.71
  • Wedging frequency on one or both feet: 99.44%
  • Wedging frequency for left foot: 92.50%
  • Wedging frequency for right foot: 97.22%

With the advent of proper arch support, this changed to:

  • Average no. wedges per rider: 4.02
  • Average no. wedges for left foot: 2.09
  • Average no. wedges for right foot: 1.94
  • Wedging frequency on one or both feet: 96.25%
  • Wedging frequency for left foot: 85.00%
  • Wedging frequency for right foot: 95.00%

From both tables you will deduce that less people need wedging on the left foot than need wedging on the right foot but that the total number of wedges used per left foot is greater on average.  There can be substantial individual variation.

So if you want a simple starting point, play the averages and once you have sufficient arch support, try 2 wedges on each foot to start with.  Is this right?

In most cases, of course not, but it is somewhere to start.  The right number of wedges (assuming sufficient arch support is already present) should make each foot feel like the pedaling pressure is spread evenly across the foot. In more than  99% of cases, wedge placement should be such that the thick side of the wedge(s) faces the crank arm.

Be aware too, that fitting wedges, whatever the location of the wedges, can affect the rotational angle that feet sit on the pedals.  So after each addition or subtraction of wedge numbers, make sure that the angle of your cleats allows your feet some free rotational movement either side of that point.

Proprioception is a curious thing. During your wedging experiments, you will often find a combination of wedge numbers between feet that feels fantastic…  At least initially, and then feels less wonderful over time.  Why?

Because your body is responding to a change in the quality of proprioceptive stimuli and initially, this is like raising your voice above the chatter at the party, to continue the analogy from Part 1 of this series.  If you don’t have the degree of wedging or the placement of wedging spot on for each side, then over time, that better (for the moment) but not perfect change in the quality of stimuli from the feet drops back to “background noise” level.

I cannot apply my test to myself and so have no one to test me, so I have had to work out my own wedge numbers.  I found this a time consuming process, as you will, because every change has to be habituated for some time as well as tested on longer rides and in races before any certainty is assured.  Here is what I would suggest in an attempt to streamline the time necessary.

Once a week, have a ‘wedge ride’.  This is a longer solo ride with a bit of climbing so that you will be forced to put solid pressure on the pedals from time to time.  You will need half a dozen heel wedges and say 4 ITS wedges and a roll of electrical tape in your jersey pocket.  Prepare the heel wedges by cutting them to the outline of the heel of your shoe insole.  Fit one ITS wedge under each of the arch support insoles that you are already using.

Ride and observe the plane of each knee’s tracking and the feeling of stability and solidity of each foot on the pedal.  Is the pressure on the foot evenly distributed across each foot?

Does this single wedge per side feel better?

If it does, add an ITS wedge to each foot and see if there is a difference in how either knee is tracking and how either foot is feeling in terms of distribution of pressure.  The ITS wedge will take up space in the toebox but try and differentiate that feeling from any changes in the distribution of pressure.  Do you feel more fluent in your pedaling action?

Once you have ridden for long enough to ensure (at least provisionally) that the ITS wedge has improved your situation, stop, remove it and replace it with a heel wedge under the heel of the insole of the same side shoe.  Then ride again and feel for any lack of fluency or uneven distribution of pressure across the fore foot. If switching from an ITS wedge or wedges to an equivalent number of heel wedges feels like a negative change, and for 10 – 15% it will, then it is very likely that this group needs to use cleat wedges.

If you perform a ‘wedge ride’ like this once per week over several weeks and keep records of wedge numbers and, wedge placement and how you feel; and if the changes survive your other rides while still feeling good, you will sooner or later arrive at the individually correct number and placement of wedges that you need to use, or at least very close to it.  You may end up with the same number under each foot or the number may differ on each foot.  If a change in wedge numbers feels worse, then it is unlikely adding more on that side will help.   Once you have arrived at wedging number per foot that has felt good for several weeks, you can choose where to place them, whether under the cleat, under the heel, under the forefoot or various combinations.  I stress that the major purpose of forefoot wedges is use as a diagnostic tool and it is rare for me to use one as a permanent fixture.

You may find that altering the wedge location while maintaining the same total number alters the feel of your foot or feet on pedal(s) in a positive or negative way.  Act on this to refine your placement while staying with the same total number per foot.  If you are patient, you will get a good result.

Note: My experience is that few people cope with more than one forefoot wedge as a permanent fixture on really long rides.  This has more to do with lack of available space in the shoe toe box than anything else, though I’ve seen instances where too many forefoot wedges created a torsional load through the midfoot.  So 1 ITS is safe if you need to use a forefoot wedge, but in most cases, heel wedging for the majority, heel wedging for the minority or a combination of both, is a better bet.

My apologies if this post isn’t entirely satisfactory at giving you an easy method of determining wedge numbers but this is the best that I can do, publicly at least, at this stage.  All feedback is welcome so let me know how you get on.

P.S. I need a break from this series for a while but will continue it.  In the meantime, there is other stuff to post about.

P.P.S. Note on fitting heel wedges:  Some care must be taken when taping multiples of cut down heel wedges to underside of the heel of an insole (ideally an arch support insole).  Don’t just make a stack of wedges and then tape them in one operation.  The following way works best.  Using an example of a 3 heel wedge stack; use thin adhesive tape; packing tape is ideal.  Tape the top half of the first wedge to secure it.  Closely match its position with the next wedge and tape the bottom half of that wedge to secure it.  Then closely match it with the final wedge and tape the top half of the final wedge.  Now that all are secured, tape over the stack carefully.  Once you have decided that the fitting is permanent, cover over the stack with adhesive backed gauze surgical type tape which will prevent slippage and soak up perspiration.  Any queries; yell via Comments below.

Foot Correction seriesPart 1 – Arch Support and Part 3 – Shimming

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This Post Has 126 Comments

  1. I wait over two weeks for this, and you leave us hanging again 😉 ?! You didn't say it, but I don't want to assume they are OK. What about out Polar heartrate monitors worn on the wrist?

  2. Sorry Jason, time is often issue here. If I could clone myself, we would both be gainfully employed. Every wrist mounted HRM (including Polar) that I've tested to date has been fine.

  3. Steve

    If the feet are two different sizes, is it best to place the cleat in the same place on each shoe or in the same place relative to the ball of the foot on each side (which then locates the cleat differently on each shoe)?


  4. G'day Craig,
    The latter. If there is a large disparity in foot length or in foot proportions between left and right, and if the consequence of this means a marked difference in cleat placement on the sole of each shoe,then a shim may be necessary under one shoe to address the functional leg length difference (LLD) that this can lead to.

  5. Wow! This has stimulated some further reading on foot mechanics. If a client has a rear foot varus which is dragging the forefoot into what appears to be a varus position I understand the varus cleat wedge. Some people have that same rear foot varus but a forefoot valgus.( frequently high arches and more rigid foot.) I would assume the appropriately intrusive arch support will still help with proprioception but would you use a valgus cleat wedge? and how far would you correct?

    Thanks look forward to your comments and future writing.

  6. G'day Bill,
    I can see you are a thinker which is a good thing and not as common as it should be in the bike biz. I can't answer your question quite the way that you frame it because I act on the results of my testing protocol which I have found to be bulletproof. Also, the testing is done with load applied. What I can say is that the majority of the foot type you describe need varus correction. If you use an FFMD, it's a great tool but it shows static alignment only. Often the picture changes under load; occasionally dramatically. I've found that the majority (not all) of people that have valgus reading on the FFMD need varus correction. I've also found the occasional varus FFMD reading that needs valgus correction. Remember the foot in only one part of the kinetic chain. I'm testing the neuromuscular response from the entire kinetic chain. That is the beauty of the testing protocol; it elicits a yes or no response from the CNS to any change in stimuli with load applied to the pedals. So achieving certainty as to the right degree,orientation and mix of correction is as simple as playing 20 Questions.

    1. Dear Steve,

      I’m from Belgium.
      Interesting point you make about valgus forefoot who need varus shimming and vice versa.
      I’ve been struggling for months now.
      I have a shorter right leg (1 cm shorter). There’s a ” mm shim under my right SPD SL pedals on my old carbon shimano shoes.
      I have a longlasting patellar tendinopathy on the left side and try to keep the saddle as high as possible.
      My troubles started when I bought myself a paoir of s works BG fit shoes.
      Since then i have sufferd from hamstring issues and recently achilles tendon issues. Nothing severe but enough to feel pain after every ride ( 6000 km a year, love climbing low gears).
      Lowered the seat, advanced the seat. Got a flare of patellar pain as a consequence after trip in dolomites and Stelvio.
      I’ve tried the ++ in sole and inshoe valgus shim with little effect. Since couple of days adductor pein at the lower third of the tigh as appeared as well.
      Should i get rid of the shoes? Buy shimano again.
      I’ve purchased your cleat wedges and consider trying a valguscleat wedge and taking the inshoe wedge out.
      What induces the adductor pain.
      Any thoughts?


      1. G’day Philip,
        Firstly, readings from an FFMD or similar devices are a static measure only. I find that static valgus readings almost always require varus correction dynamically. I have found the occasional varus static reading that requires valgus wedging, but it is exceedingly rare.

        Next, when you mention using “valgus inshoe wedge” with your new Specialized shoes, was it a Specialized in shoe wedge?

        If so, don’t use Specialized inshoe wedges or cleat shims ever. They inhibit the central nervous system and increase risk of overuse injury. There is a video post called MATERIAL CHALLENGES/Scary Movie coming in a couple of weeks that will graphically illustrate what I’m saying. They are not alone.

        Most plastic charity style bracelets and many black sunglass frames have the same negative impact on the nervous system. I am seeing more and more Material Challenges with new fit clients.

        Specialized shoes are fine (providing they fit well) so they are unlikely to be the source of your problem. Specialized arch support insoles are also fine but in my view, they have the range of arch support heights wrong. Even their highest option is only suitable for low arch feet from a corrective point of view. If you have low arch feet, then they may be ideal.

        Based on the (incomplete) info you have given me, my best guess is that you haven’t fully compensated for your shorter right leg (how high is the shim, you don’t specify) and that lack of compensation, or other functional issues, mean that you don’t sit squarely on the seat. I say this because adductor pain is ALWAYS due to pelvic movement on the bike.

        You also mention that you keep your seat height on the high side to alleviate patella issues.
        It maybe that a combination of a thinner shoe sole (Specialized), a high seat height and riding in the mountains was enough to push you into injury.

        Hamstring and Achilles tendon issues at the same time are almost always related to too high a seat height.

        Read ‘How To Avoid Bike Fit Hell’. Then I’d suggest returning to your original position settings and shoes and start again. You should be able to use the Specialized shoes but as you seem to function within a narrow zone, make changes carefully and incrementally with only one change at a time.

      2. Steve,

        thanks for your quick reply.
        Intuitively your advice sounds great and spot on.

        I made a typo with the height of the shim. It is 3 mm thick.
        I had already read about material challenge and I have bought your shims and wedges a couple of days ago.
        Correct me if this is stupid: I think I’ll try to lower the seat, put your 3 mm shim under the shoe together with one valgus cleat wedge and give the Specialized’s one last try ( because they fit so well)
        If this doesn’t work I’ll start from scratch again.
        The thing is my shimano shoes were worn out and i would need to buy a new pair .
        Can I ask you a few more questions:
        Are all shimano shoes similar ??
        Is there a difference in stack height between shimano and specialized shoes??

        Again thanks for your reply.
        Really impressed with your taste for DERANKE


      3. G’day Philip,
        That sounds fine. One point though. My experience with 10mm leg length differences like yours is that a 3mm shim is rarely enough. Usually the shim would need to be in the 6 – 10mm range. There are exceptions but that is my general experience. What that means is that source of your left knee tendinopathy is likely to be caused by either:
        1. The lack of enough shim height under the right side causes you to drop the right hip which in turn challenges the plane of movement of the left knee


        2. You have the seat low enough to ensure that the right leg reaches the bottom of the pedal stroke well with only a 3mm shim but that seat height is too low for the left knee which in turn can cause anterior knee pain.

        To answer your other questions; currently all carbon soled Shimano shoes have the same last shape to the sole and the same degree of heel and toe lift.
        I don’t know the difference between Shimano and Specialized shoe sole thicknesses. I tend to position every one as a reflection of their degree of function and the equipment they use and have never bothered measuring relative shoe sole thicknesses. A quick glance suggests that Shimano have a thicker sole, though I haven’t measured the difference.

        De Ranke XX?
        What a beer!

  7. Steve

    Timing of this is spectacular as this is an issue I have been trying to wrap my head around for a bit and have been chatting with Paul at BFS about. I assume you mean "cut down BFS ITS wedges" rather than cleat wedges when referring to heel wedging … if not, can you explain how that works?

    Have you any experience with Time ATAC cleat wedging – I struggle with it as the interface really struggles when using cleat wedges.

    Again, thanks for the help,


  8. G'day Craig,
    I mean exactly as the text says "Heel Wedging using cut down Cleat Wedges taped under the heel of the shoe insole".
    Have a look at the pic I've just loaded at the start of this post.

    Re ATAC's and similar. It is for this kind of application that heel wedges are ideal with the caveat that enough can be fitted. In most cases this isn't an issue. Occasionally it is and the solution is as per the text of the post; i.e; shoe modification to fit wedges at the heel between sole and upper. If it is not possible to fit enough heel wedges without compromising the fit of clients heel in the heel cup for an ATAC or similar user, then a bootmaker needs to partially remove the sole from the upper, have you insert the desired number of wedges between sole and upper at the heel, and then reglue the heel of the sole to the upper.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the beauty of the testing protocol I use is that it gives certainty as to the orientation and degree of cant and the number of wedges or combination of wedges and arch support needed to achieve it.

  9. Steve – Thank you for your time and efforts providing so much information to the cycling community! I'm sure you're helping many people.

    Can wedging or the lack of wedging cause hamstring issues? I know improper wedging can cause medial or lateral pain.

    Thank you,

  10. G'day Jason,
    You're welcome. Call it therapy. Re your question – I've got to say yes, but there are usually other factors associated.

  11. Great information. Any idea how soon your patent will be approved. Being able to test if you have it correct(arch/canting) seems critical. Correct me if wrong but often just looking at the knee tracking is not enough as the rider makes compensations.Any other clues short of revealing your plans to tell when it is correct. Weight distrbution over the feet? Knee tracking or combination. Thanks Bill

  12. If a rider has pelvic assymetry and drops down and forward to the left. Rt gluteal lifts off the saddle slightly and causing increased reach to the pedals on the right and a turning in of the knee on the left side at bottom of pedal stroke.(there is some chronic knee pain mild on the left) Often when I think of the knee turning inwards and moving medially it suggests a need for a varus wedge on that side is this the case here or because the mechanism is different dose it change? I have also set seat hieght for the longer (functionaly left leg) and shimmed the right cleat(functionally shorter) 4mm in hieght.(before the shim rt side was challenged at the bottom of the stroke and lost fluidity) Addtional comment is the pedal stroke on the right improves with the right eye closed and I assume this means some of the pelvic assymetry decreases. Hard to ride around though with 1 eye closed. I would appreciate comments or suggestions. Bill

  13. Hi Steve – I was wondering how Specialized shoes factored into your wedging stats? I think I remember reading somewhere (maybe Paul's blog) that the built-in wedging the shoes have usually didn't equate to a full 1.5 degrees as stated. Many thanks, Jason

  14. G'day Bill,
    Patent approval?
    Who knows?
    These things move slowly. I can say patent pending at the moment in the U.S, but final approval still some years off. Elsewhere, still a while to go.
    Re whether varus wedging would positively affect your pelvic asymmetry; I can only speculate. Each case is different and it depends on what root cause or causes are for the pelvic asymmetry. If foot alignment is the sole reason or a large part of it, I would expect your left foot to be morphologically quite different to your right. If this isn't the case, it is still a reasonably safe assumption that wedging is necessary to some degree (on both feet)as most people require it.

    That closing one eye has a positive effect on symmetry on bike is something I've been delving into for several years. This isn't the place to go into detail here as some of that info is IP I am trying to protect for the moment. I know that doesn't help you much but if you can track down a chiropractor who is trained in Applied Kinesiology diagnostic methods and who uses coloured lenses as part of their 'tool kit', I'm happy to speak to them about your case and what I've found over the last few years. I speak enough of their 'language' to make sense to people with that training but perhaps not to a layman without writing War and Peace about it.

    G'day Jason,
    I like Specialized shoes but sad to say,I have never seen any evidence of the 1 degree of varus correction that Specialized say is built in. I have fitted numerous people who had more than one pair of shoes with one of the pairs being Specialized. Using the same methodology (which is bulletproof if applied correctly) in every case, from a proprioceptive point of view, the wedging numbers needed on both brands was always the same. This suggests to me that either the correction isn't there as claimed, or if it is, it is ineffective.

  15. Hi Steve,
    You seen to know a lot about the feet. but little evidence. Where did you study Podiatry? or was it Orthotics? Not sure you did.
    You seem to refer to a lot of the people you see needing FF varus correction with wedges…hmmm interesting. And foot mechanics you write of is all smoke and mirrors with no clinical or empirical evidence of the junk you place under cleats. Skill and experience you seem to have is not evidence based or proven, purely subjective musing.
    You rightly acknowledge FF varus is extremely rare…so get your terminology correct. Further. How do you correct RF motion of the foot with FF wedging….AMAZING!!!
    What the hell is proprioceptive clarity stuff you purport extensively. Never read that in a foot and ankle journal. If you could provide some references to this phenomenon it would be appreciated.
    BSc BPO (Hon)

  16. G’day Andrew,
    Thank your for your comment. I think you should re read the posts because you are implying a couple of statements on my part that I have not made.
    Secondly, the quickest way to answer your charges is this.
    I am used to scepticism from health professionals, particularly some podiatrists, about some of the things I’m saying and don’t mind it in the least. I think scepticism is healthy. I gave 2 workshops on just this subject, foot correction for cyclists, at the Tour Down Under Sports Medicine Conference in Adelaide in 2010. Amongst the audience were 2 orthopaedic surgeons, 1 professor of medicine, several GP’s, 4 or 5 physios and at least 1 podiatrist.
    They are the ones I remember, though the bulk of the rest were health professionals. Your scepticism was shared by many of the audience initially, though they were more polite about it than you have been. By the end of the workshops, there were no more sceptics.
    Additionally, I count amongst my fitting clients, 2 professors of anatomy, several podiatrists and numerous other mainstream health professionals. None of them have an issue with what I have done with their feet or those of other fit clients, as they have experienced the process first hand.
    I expect that the best way to resolve your scepticism is to make you the same offer I make to anyone. I am happy to give personal demonstrations on request. If it is not possible for you to visit us (you don’t say where you are from), podiatry is a wide spread profession and it is likely that you know someone in Sydney who can act as your surrogate; or know someone who knows someone etc. Send them in. They don’t have to announce themselves as your surrogate; they can tell me any story that they like and I will happily demonstrate in person.

  17. G'day ETrust,
    It came as a surprise to me initially but I suppose it shouldn't have. The ability of dyslexis to process some aspects of the sense of vision can be influenced by using coloured filters. There are other applications as well as I'm finding.

  18. Hi Steve,

    I have read your blog with interest and I must be honest I do truly believe that your methods of fitting cyclists must work.

    But, I read your blog because I am keen cyclist and runner and from time to time different cycling related injuries pop up on me which I am sure are related to positional issues on my bike.

    So i first read your basic premise then onto arch support. Your argument for arch support is that unlike natural running (natural being running that occured for the many 1000's of years before raised heels and supported arches became the norm back in the 1970's)cycling has no need for a flexible arch due to the fixed nature of the pelvis and much lower force through the feet, legs and pelvis. So I am going to take your advice taken get some arch support for cycling shoes.

    Onto proprioception, I fully agree that proprioception is vital in any activity and using the analogy of running again, the perfect proprioceptive foot set-up is running barefoot (assuming you have always run this way) but I couldn't understand why arch support helps with proprioception can you simplify for me again please – if you have time?

    Finally, having decided that arch support is the way forward for me I then read wedging and I am at a complete loss as to how I know I need wedging other than to put some wedging in certain places and see how it feels, is this summary unfair.

    Best regards


  19. G'day Rich,
    Re your last 3 paragraphs; I think your summary is fair. To explain more fully; I use a testing protocol that quantifies proprioceptive feedback from the feet when force is applied to the pedals. The testing protocol only gives a 'yes' or 'no' response. There is no 'nearly right' or 'slightly wrong', just 'yes' or 'no'. I use the protocol to determine the necessary degree of wedging vs arch support as well as the ideal placement of the wedging; i.e. heel, cleat or forefoot.

    Unless you and I were in the same room at the same time, you don't have access to that testing protocol. So here is what I would do in your case. Fit your arch support at Level 2, slightly intrusive and once you are used to that and aren't aware of it any more except when focusing on it consciously, pedal away and ask yourself where you feel pressure on the forefoot in your cyclng shoe. Is the pedaling pressure evenly spread across the foot?
    If yes, you may not need wedging. Not needing wedging isn't rare (particularly on the left foot) but isn't common either. However if you feel more pressure on the outside of the foot which is quite common, wedge towards the outside of the foot. That is progressively fit 1 or more wedges oriented so that the thick side of the wedge(s) faces the crank arm until you feel that the pedaling pressure is evenly distributed. That will get you fairly close to the mark in most cases. If though, you feel more pressure on the inside of the foot, then do the converse. Just be aware that very, very few people need wedges oriented with the thick side of wedges facing away from the crank arm. Most people who feel like there is more pressure on the inside of the foot only feel that because they are not sitting squarely on the seat and are dropping the hip on one side.

  20. Steve,

    Quick question for you. I see that you mentioned 1 ITS wedge is = to 1 CW. But is 1 heel wedge = to an ITS or CW? Thanks.


    1. G’day Jonathan,
      1 cleat wedge = 1 heel wedge (which is a cut down cleat
      wedge) = 1 in shoe (ITS) wedge except in the rarest of circumstances.

  21. Hi there
    Wow this is so complicated!
    I recently had Specialized +++wedges put in, after advice, and they seemed to straighten my pedaling so no longer knee inwards. However, like a recent comment on cyclingnews I developed a little knee pain under the patella. However, it doesn’t help that my Speedplay X’s are wobbling due to worn bearings. I will try some steady rides like you suggested and new pedals.
    Your dislike of the Specialized ITS caught my interest. Is the proprioceptive blocking by the material of the ITS changed by simple measures such as wearing socks? If not why not? With the bracelets (I don’t wear one) do they effect proprioceptive clarity in the body regions below the vertebrae they link with or just one area of the body or is this enough to impinge on the processing capacity of the CNS so that all areas of the body are affected?
    The sunglasses point has really aroused my interest. I strongly encourage some form of scientific endeavour to validate this, perhaps a local undergrad of sports science could assist as part of a dissertation? One would think that sunglass lenses would attenuate the CNS to competing stimuli since the lense would reduce CNS excitation?
    I only wish that I lived in Australia or Sydney so that I could get you to fit me! I just want to ride my bike without this hassle.
    Hawkes Bay

    1. G’day Chris,
      Re your experience with Specialized in shoe wedges, you’ve got a number of variables with your situation so it isn’t possible to sheet home blame to one factor alone. Loose pedal bearings won’t help. If the number of wedges used is too many, then again, a problem will likely arise. Re the Specialized in shoe wedges themselves, they will perform the same mechanical correction (if used in the individually correct number) as other wedges. However, they are made from material that has a negative effect on fine motor control abilities. Wearing socks won’t help. The effect of those things is so pronounced, that they don’t have to be touching you, just close to you.

      Another way to put this is: No one has clear proprioceptive feedback from the feet when cycling unless the cant of their feet is perfect. In a typical year, and using the testing protocol I’ve developed, 97% of riders need wedging on one or both feet to individually varying degrees to restore proprioceptive clarity from the feet. This lack of neural information causes the CNS to compensate for that lack. Humans are world champion compensator’s but ALL of our patterns of compensation on a bike are asymmetric and that is where the problem lies. So it is possible to potentially have the correct number of Specialized in shoe wedges from the view point of mechanical correction but still be in asymmetric compensation mode with the increased chances of overuse injuries developing that result.

      I also hasten to add that in any rider’s case, there are multiple triggers for compensatory patterns to develop, of which the use of the wedges you have is only one.

      Re the bracelets; no it effects the whole of body response.

      Re the glasses, and this problem is not epidemic, though I see it regularly. It differs from the Material Challenge of the Specialized in shoe wedges and shims by having an individual component. I had 2 elite athletes in earlier in the year from the national squad of another country. To colour coordinate with their kit, they wore blue mirror finish sunglasses with white frames, though each used a different brand as the team doesn’t issue sunglasses. One of them had a negative response to the lens coating on his glasses but not to the lens coating of his team mates very similar different brand glasses. Nor did team mate 2 have a negative response to the glasses that team mate 1 did. So they swapped glasses.

      I’m a bike fitter so don’t look at me. However I have demonstrated this stuff to tens of health professionals of various stripes and contacted behavioural optometrists and neurologists about this. In each case it was news to them though they were very interested. The first behavioural optometrist I contacted gave me the impression that what I was saying was not new, but once a face to face meeting took place, I found that they had misconstrued what I had said and it is apparently news to them.

      If anyone out there is interested in doing the research, contact me.

  22. From a previous post your said:

    A question was asked “…..With the bracelets (I don’t wear one) do they effect proprioceptive clarity in the body regions below the vertebrae they link with or just one area of the body or is this enough to impinge on the processing capacity of the CNS so that all areas of the body are affected? ……”

    You responded “……Re the bracelets; no it effects the whole of body response….”

    How does silicon bracelet effect the central nervous system?

    Thanks Wayne

    1. G’day Wayne,
      To answer unequivocally, publicly, strays into IP that it
      has taken many years to nut out. Happy to demonstrate in person and do so
      daily with fit clients who use them or other plastics that have a similar
      effect on proprioceptive clarity. I suspect you are not in Australia but if
      we’re ever in the same part of the planet, happy to demonstrate. I know this
      is not the answer you seek but it is the best I am prepared to give, other
      than face to face.

  23. Hi Steve

    From my personal experience and own published research, the vast majority of cyclists will benefit from varus wedging i.e. increased power output, especially when performing short, high intensity efforts. Furthermore, those cyclists presenting with the highest levels of forefoot varus (or forefoot supinatus – an acquired soft tissue adaptation as a result of excessive pronation) demonstrate the greatest increases in power output – when corrected using varus wedges.

    As you say, limited robust research exists on the topic of ‘Forefoot Varus’ related to gait – and even less in the world of cycling. It is highly likely that ‘Forefoot Varus’ (forefoot supinatus) develops over time as a result of excessive pronation at the subtalar joint during gait activities and cycling. I strongly believe this is a result of tibial varum (rearfoot heel varus). Therefore, in general terms, I believe tibial varum should be compensated for by the use of ‘Cleat Wedges’ in preference to ITS forefoot wedges. Usually, the greater the degree of tibial varum, the more wedging is required.

    I also agree with your comments on using a longitundinal arch support to assist in controlling pronatory forces. I use the red high density formothotic (manufactured in NZ) which has a small intrinsic varus heel wedge built in. We advise cyclists to use an insert one size smaller. This moves the arch support further back towards the heel, thus allowing the metatarsal heads to ground effectively. All too often arch supports extend too far forward….this means the pedal forces are ttransfered through the arch rather than the met-heads.

    Something often referred to in the cycling literature, but it’s highly likely modern technology in bikes and cycling equipment , particularly the advent of carbon, exacerbates the problem of foot dysfunction. Whilst frames, wheels, cranks, pedals and shoes and so on, have all advanced and become significantly stiffer, the human foot remains unchanged. Consequently, in a system that has very little flex for energy to dissipate, pressure on the foot increases considerably. While these rapid technological advancements, compounded by ever-improving rider fitness/strength provide for more efficient power transfer, they come at the expense of increased forefoot pressures causing the foot to collapse inwardly, which in turn, can be responsible for forefoot problems and increased pronation.

    Finally, we recommend cyclists use appropriate orthoses for gait activities when excessive pronation is present. We believe that failure to control pronation during gait can result in postural asymmetry being taken onto the bike. Furthermore, failing to control pronatory forces during gait may lead to further increases in Forefoot Varus (forefoot supinatus).

    Based in the UK

    1. G’day Nick,
      Thank you for taking the time. I’m in complete agreement with
      you with a couple of minor exceptions. I used to use the red Formthotics
      but moved away from them because I could not get enough arch support out of
      them for those with really high arches. There is a way to measure the
      clarity of the CNS response to the proprioceptive output of the foot under
      load, and I have refined a testing protocol to the point where it tells me
      how much correction is needed and the relative degree of where it is needed;
      forefoot, midfoot, rear foot. That is what led me away from Formthotics.
      They are still valid for many.I don’t know what feet are like in the U.K.,
      but I see a lot of very high arch feet and found that modified eSoles
      Supportive insoles were a better option in many cases.

      From the detail in your mail, I assume you are a physio, podiatrist or
      similar with an interest in cycling. I hope to have a better method than
      cleat wedges to address rearfoot varus available in the very near future. If
      you contact me privately with your postal address, I’ll make sure samples
      find their way to you for experimentation and comment.

      Yes, also not crazy about ITS wedges but use the occasional one (in
      conjunction with rear foot and arch correction) for those whom the test
      protocol tells me need a forefoot wedge rather than cleat wedge. This isn’t
      common, and hovers around 1 and bit per cent of riders in most years.

    2. Hi Nick,

      Quick question about your comment about using corrective orthoses off the bike. How do you define excessive pronation and what kinds of postural asymmetries do you see as a result (both on and off the bike)?

      There is a fast growing movement in the field of running and injuries that discourages orthoses and corrective shoes…the school of thought argues that, for most people with overly flexible feet, orthoses weaken the foot and corrective shoes don’t really correct pronation. If I understand correctly, those with rigid flat feet are an exception and most(?) should wear orthoses.

      I know this might be veering off topic a bit but I manage a running store and work with injured runners daily so your comment piqued my interest. Many runners, with what some would define as excessive pronation, run extraordinarily well in neutral or minimalist shoes (which are generally defined as those having less elevated heels, wider toeboxs, and less cushioning). For example, Haile Gebrselassie:

      I’ve met with several world experts in running biomechanics in the last year (not because I’m particularly important) and many are embracing this idea. Jay Dicharry at the University of Virginia and Irene Davis at the University of Delaware are two whom have both published recently on this topic are are fairly well known.

      May I ask your field of work and how this line of thinking agrees or disagrees with your training?

      Steve, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how off-the-bike footwear affects on-the-bike posture/performance.

      I am not a medical provider and don’t pretend to be an expert. I am just hoping to continue learning.

      Eric Johnson
      in the US

  24. Hi Eric

    Without getting into an endless debate, I will attempt to address some of the points you have raised to the best of my ability. First, I would like to clarify a few points.

    1. As you are aware, pronation is a natural and necessary part of gait which enables the foot to adapt to the differing ground surface profiles and pronation helps to dissipate ground reaction forces. Therefore, I should replace the term ‘excessive pronation’ by the term “uncontrolled pronatory forces”….hopefully this is a more acceptable and meaningful definition.

    2. My research recently carried out at Manchester Met University evaluated changes in performance measured as ‘power-out’ in cyclists with forefoot varus. Testing involved 2 x 30 second Wingate Anaerobic tests on a cycle ergometer, one with and one without wedges. Appropriate wedging demonstrated an average increase in power output 3.5%. Those with the greatest amount of forefoot varus demonstrated increases of 9-10%.

    The point I made about gait activities impacting on cycling performance is based on subsequent pelvic asymmetry / pelvic muscle imbalance potentially arising from uncontrolled pronatory forces during gait. In cases like this, forefoot varus (forefoot supinatus) is frequently present. Despite the cyclist having earlier undergone optimisation of bikefit set-up and wedging…..the cyclist may develop functional leg length differences / postural asymmetry which I believe are attributed to gait activities. Consequently, these are then taken on to the bike, which in turn, disturb normal pedalling symmetry. Studies have demonstrated that both unilateral and bilateral displaces the body’s line of gravity forward, which influences posture. Recent studies by Cobb et al (2004 & 2006) have demonstrated that forefoot varus can significantly impair core stability. Although not definitive, in our clinic we use a battery of simple functional tests (closed-chain and open-chain) to identify asymmetries and to evaluate for pelvic / core stability. I am only proposing intervention if the cyclist presents with postural asymmetry, and/or re-occurring pelvic imbalances – after optimisation of bikefit. We have found that by addressing pronatory stresses during gait (not necessarily running) allied with a personalised musculoskeletal rehab plan the incidence of re-occurrence diminishes in race cyclists.

    Over the years, research strongly suggests that uncontrolled pronatory forces can contribute to overuse problems along the kinetic chain. Many studies provide strong support for the clinical advantages of foot orthotics – however, explanations of the mechanisms of how they work remain elusive and uncertain. I fully agree with your comment that many runners pronate excessively, yet run extraordinarily well – without succumbing to injury. In this situation we would not contemplate intervening. Similarly, many people smoke excessively without succumbing to lung-cancer. It’s highly possibly that it comes down to how each individual’s own body copes with situations. Incidentally, some authors suggest the problem is due to a delay in re-supination of the foot at toe-off.

    I tend to support your views on moving towards running shoes with less elevated heels, if only to encourage forefoot strike. I am a convert of forefoot running myself – having successfully moved to using Newton running shoes. Forefoot running has considerably reduced symptoms associated with my degenerative joints. Generally, I believe runners should more towards forefoot strike, facilitated by shoe design (low heel), to achieve benefits. Although I have not researched this particular topic, my understanding is that forefoot strike involves less subtalar pronation (reduced pronatory forces), additional to reducing ground reaction forces. Some of the UK Premier Soccer Teams are now advising their players to wear orthoses for limited time periods during each day and to walk in bare-feet.

    Finally, ‘caveat emptor’ applies to shoe manufactures and their commercial interests. Shoe manufactures and so called experts in running biomechanics have been driving shoe sales by advocating running shoes with thick heel cushioning since the early 1970s. With over 40 years of research into shoe design…..many questions remain unanswered.

    I am a graduate Sports Therapist with a special interest in foot dysfunction / lower-limb biomechanics in cycling.

    Nick Dinsdale BSc (Hons), MSc

  25. Hi Steve, Have you any experience with the RoadId bracelets and their inhibiting proprioceptive feedback? There are two kinds, one that’s made of a woven material and one that’s made of material that seems very similar to the Livestrong bracelets. Thanks Kevin

    1. G’day Kevin,
      I’m aware that road ID bracelets exist but have never seen
      a rider wearing one. If the look and feel of the plastic one is similar to
      the LiveStrong ones or Power Balance bracelets, then every bracelet of that
      style that I’ve seen has had an inhibitory effect. Most of them are sold by
      charities. The woven one, I can’t comment about as I don’t know.

      I’ll mention an interesting incident which occurred yesterday. Interesting
      because there was a room full of witnesses. I was assessing an elite junior
      triathlete prior to fitting him. He wore a charity style plastic bracelet of
      the type we are talking about on his right wrist. In standing posture he had
      no difference in leg length but stood with left posterior iliac crest 15mm
      higher than the right side. With bracelet removed, his pelvis instantly
      shifted and iliac crests became level. If the bracelet was placed within
      half a metre of him, the lateral pelvic tilt returned. He is not the first
      person I’ve seen where a postural shift occurred with one of these things.
      More commonly, the effects are a little more subtle, but can still be seen.

      Now, I know this sounds like bullshit. Also present yesterday were a second
      elite junior triathlete, the Institute coach who looks after both of them,
      the mother of one of them, another coach, a visiting exercise scientist, an
      elite woman who is on her country’s national squad (she was my next fit
      client) and who has medical degree. All said the same thing; that they would
      have called it bullshit except that they had seen it.

      The same inhibitory effect happens with Specialized in shoe wedges and cleat
      shims (their cleat wedges are okay though), 1 model of Vasyli generic arch
      supports and many sunglasses. The effect with sunglasses has individual
      variance in that a pair of glasses will have an obvious inhibitory effect on
      one person but not on another. The most common sunglass that I find problems
      with are the black framed Oakley Jawbones.

      I don’t want to overstate this. No one is going to die from using any of
      these products. They will just be less coordinated at some level which
      means an increased chance of developing an overuse injury.

      I tripped over this after developing a testing protocol to quantify
      proprioceptive clarity from the feet. Once I’d worked that out, I found fit
      clients who I could not get a response from no matter what. Unless they
      removed their plastic bracelet, glasses, shims or inshoe wedges or whatever
      object, in their case, was the problem. I had another gent who was
      recovering from a bout of ill health who was inhibited by the cycling shoes
      he was wearing. He is the publisher of the magazine I write for here. I put
      him in Lakes as they fitted him and there was no problem with them. His
      previous shoes have remained at our place since, but I have not found
      another person who has a problem with them. So I suspect that his weakened,
      run down state had something to do with it. Next time he is in Sydney I plan
      to test him with the same shoes again.

      This is fascinating stuff and part of the minutiae of bikefitting that makes
      a difference.

  26. Hi Steve & Kevin,

    I have been wearing a road id bracelet (plastic one b/c I thought the fabric one would get too stinky after a while) for about 6 months now as I got sick of putting my drivers license in and out of my wallet & jersey pocket everyday and the thought of it inhibiting proprioceptive feedback had never crossed my mind. I can’t notice anything different however I’ll have to get you to check it next time I’m in Sydney Steve. I do think they are a good safety item in case we get knocked off whilst riding on your own.

    1. G’day Darren,
      I don’t KNOW the ID bracelets are a problem, but since so
      many plastic bracelets are, it’s worthy of mention. Next time I see you,
      we’ll find out.

  27. Hi Steve; a question about using a cut-down cleat wedge under the heel.

    In your picture you’re using a 3-hole wedge and it’s mounted so that the gradient runs diagonally across the heel rather than just at 90 degrees to the foot. Is this intentional or is it just a practical way of fitting it so that it fits under the heel? I would have thought that a Speedplay wedge might fit more naturally under the heel to give a wedge at 90 degrees to the foot (perhaps trimmed a bit).

    And just to be absolutely clear; if you’d wedge the forefoot with the thick part closest to the crank, then you’d do the same at the heel?

    Thanks for all your help

    1. G’day Mike,
      I do it that way because it is easy, convenient and it works.
      I’ve tried a Speedplay wedge as you suggest, and it only works well in small
      shoe sizes. In larger sized shoes, from a proprioceptive point of view, it
      is a bit hit and miss. I’ll have a better solution available than either
      shortly, so stay tuned.

      Yes, if you are already using wedges with thick side facing crank arm, then
      it is the same orientation under the heel.

  28. Hi Steve,

    I love your blog and the articles you put up. I was reading your article “Fooloose” and had a question about something you said in the “Cant” section of the article. You said that people load up the outside of the foot (or far less commonly the inside of the foot) in order to compensate for lack of cant. I am definitely one of the minority that load up the inside of my left foot, as I can tell by the pressure I feel as well as the wear on the inside of my pedal and cleat. The question I have is this: is loading up the inside of the foot still an indication for a varus cleat wedge? Is this a problem of lack of wedge or too much arch collapse during power phase of pedal stroke? I currently use Aline insoles which are very supportive. Please let me know, as I have ordered cleat wedges and ITS wedges but have not tried anything yet as I am waiting for some advice. Please let me know. Thanks so much.


    1. G’day Marc,
      The general reply is yes, wedge towards the pressure; that is place the thick side of the wedge towards the outside of the shoe as it is the medial edge of the foot that is loaded. Use an ITS wedge as an experiment and if, after a week or two, there have been no problems, remove it and replace with a cleat wedge or heel wedge.

      The more specific reply is that I am always suspicious when an issue is left side only as it may indicate that there are other factors at work. It is far more common to develop issues on the left side than right side on a bike because the huge majority of cyclists favour their right sides (even left handed, left footed cyclists). That ‘protection’ of the right side usually comes at some cost to the left. So in your shoes, the first thing I would do is ascertain whether you are sitting squarely on the seat. A quickie way to do this is to mount your bike on a trainer and pedal away in a reasonably hard gear. While doing so, look down between your legs at the gap between inner thigh and seat post. Is the gap even when each leg is extended?

      If not, in most cases the rider is hanging towards or rotating forward on the side with the least gap. If you find a difference, it can be confirmed by an observer standing above and behind you while you pedal with shirt off on the trainer. See the post Right Side Bias for examples of what to look for.

      If you find that you are not sitting squarely, that probably plays a part in what you feel on the left side because as a species we are brilliant compensators. The most common challenge to symmetry on a bike is seat height so it would be worth reading the 2 posts on seat height if you are not sitting squarely. If you find that you are not sitting squarely, and dropping the seat doesn’t markedly improve things, get back to me.

      Now, having read the above and if you are sitting squarely and decide to place the wedge with thick side to the outside; I have never, ever seen a rider who needed valgus wedging who required more than a single valgus wedge. And that is out of thousands. So be careful.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me. In the comment about the valgus wedge, is that even for specialized shoes with the built in Varus tilt? Wouldn’t 1 valgus wedge bring it back to neutral and then the 2 wedge would tilt it to an actual valgus? Would this case be okay in try more than 1 valgus wegde…



      2. G’day Marc,
        Numerous times clients show up with multiple pairs of shoes with one of those pairs being Specialized. I used a testing protocol based on CNS feedback to determine foot correction. That is the ideal balance of arch support and wedging, and the placement of wedging; whether that be rear foot, forefoot or cleat wedging. Using these methods I have never found any difference between what the rider needs in Specialized shoes when compared to multiple other brands. That tells me that the inbuilt correction that Specialized claim is either ineffective or not there at all.

      3. Hi Steve,

        In response to your last post about “sitting squarely on the saddle”…I tend to sit with the left hip slightly forward. This is extremely odd since I have a short right leg and it is being compensated for with shims on the left shoe. What are some of the reasons for me to be sitting forward on the left side?
        Could it be that my left arch is lower or collapsing more in response to having a short right leg my entire life, as in a way to compensate for it, as you mentioned to Dusan? And this could maybe be the reason I am loading up this left foot? I have been riding with a valgus wedge the past couple of days and the pressure feels more even on the pedal, but I am still sitting a little with the left hip forward. Please let me know your advice. It is also greatly appreciated!


      4. G’day Marc,
        Firstly, a clarification. I hope you mean that you have *wedges* under your longer left leg, not *shims *as you state. As with Dusan, my crystal ball has broken down. I can give you likely reasons as to why you sit twisted towards your long legged side, and even probabilities but human compensatory mechanisms are not as simple as Problem X = Compensation Y. Every system, every structure and every process in the human body is interrelated at some level. However there is always an individual component to each person’s issues and compensatory patterns. This is why my whole approach to bike fitting is to optimise neural function and proprioceptive feedback from the feet. Neural function underpin every physical action.

        Possible reasons:
        1.Poor processing of the spatial awareness component of vision from one eye. Usually but not always the left eye and usually but not always the non dominant eye.
        2.Lack of compensation for the shorter right leg leading to a predisposition to apply more force and autonomically monitor the less problematic left leg.
        3. Marked right cerebellar hemispheric motor control dominance.
        4. Any of a large number of physical issues in hips, pelvis, sacro iliac joints or low back that predispose you to twist forward on the left side. If your left arch collapses more under load than the right, this could be the source of your problem. If the arch is collaping noticeably, that often correlates with a gluteals that don’t fire well on the left side. If the glute medius isn’t firing well, the position of the pelvis on the left side becomes unstable forcing a forward roll of the hip on the pedal down stroke on that side.
        5. Significant differences in flexbility of low back and hips between sides.
        6. Any combination of above as well as a whole raft of other stuff.

        Marc, without a detailed assessment it just isn’t possible to tell you why you function as you do. I can only give you the options. What I suggest is that you:
        1. Start a quality stretching program. Have a look at Flexibility for Cyclists by Fred and Kele McDaniel. A great help for many people.
        2. Work your way thoroughly through the posts dealing with bike position.
        Start with Arch Support, then Shimming, then Wedging. Then move on to Seat Height, Seat setback, Cleat Position and so on. Use the search function on the site.

        If you ever trip over one, enlist the help of a quality bike fitter. There aren’t many around. If you tell me where you are I’ll try to point you in the right direction.

  29. Hi Steve,

    I came across your blog yesterday and spent hours reading it. It contains a whole bunch of great thoughtful information, which I really appreciate.

    I wear the Specialized MTB Sport shoes and LOOK Quartz pedals and can see a slight knee tilt/deflection to inside/towards bike frame on my right side (left look OK). In winter when I use various trainers in gym and wear different shoes I can see that this tilt is more exaggerated (right leg suffering more) so I believe that the Specialized/LOOK solve most of the knee tilt issue.

    I was told by 2 podiatrists that I have got flat feet (right more than left) and my right leg is circa .5 to 1.0cm longer than the left one. Is the right foot compensating the length by being more flat? Both feet seem to be the same length. I do MTB and develop hamstring pain after longer runs. Should I use external cleat shims/stacker for my left leg to compensate the leg length difference? Will this solve the right leg knee tilt mentioned above as well? Does the Specialized nylon material cleat stacker present a Material Challenge to the nervous system as they are not in direct contact with the foot? Or should I use the cleat wedges?
    What about the insole, should I try one with higher longitudinal arch and metatarsal button, e.g. Specialized ++Blue or +++Green as my feet are flat and currently I have the stock + red? If yes, should I buy the size 45 or smaller size so that I get more support near the heel?

    My cleats are 6mm in front of the center of the pedal axle and I wear shoe size 45. I did today the “METHOD NO. 2” measurement that shows for left 14mm and for right 16mm, but it might be that I didn’t find the center of the joint spot on… I can’t cheat the lacking practice 🙂 Based on this I will experiment with moving the cleats extra 6mm to the heel.

    I do not develop low back pain even after very long rides, but I do develop low back pain on the left side after couple of 5-10km runs after not running for longer time periods (I run and ski winter and cycle summer). More into winter the pain gets less and less frequent. Would you suggest that the leg length difference is solved for running by adding an extra insole in the left shoe? If so, can I just cut the rear part of the extra insole to lift up just the heel or should I put the entire insole, which will reduce the toe box space and potentially lead to toe discomfort.

    I often change the seat height and rear compression on my full suspension bike according to the terrain I am about to ride (from fireroads and smooth singletracks to more technical rocky/root trails). Have you got any advice on how to set the seat height for mountain biking races?

    Thanks Steve for your time and advice in advance!

    Dusan from Slovakia

    1. G’day Dusan,
      A lot of questions! Here are brief answers.

      If your left leg is shorter and you are not compensating for that on the bike, you are likely to be sitting with your pelvis down on the left side. That will pull the right knee closer to the top tube. So the probable solution, at least in part is to compensate for the leg length difference with a shim on the left side.

      No, your right arch is likely lower because you have spend a lifetime of walking while leaning to the left because of the shorter left leg. A lower right arch is not the only way that humans can compensate for a shorter left leg but it is a common one.

      It is not possible to shim an mtb cleat more than about 3mm without the shoe feeling unstable on the pedal. For greater shim heights than that, either a build up needs to be placed inside the shoe but there are practical limitations because of lack of vertical space. The best solution is to work out how much height you need and take your shoe to a bootmaker to have the sole removed and a full length build up inserted between sole and upper and then have the sole glued back on.

      Will it solve the right knee tilt as well? I don’t know. It will be a positive for symmetry but lack of foot correction probably plays a part as well.

      Will the Specialized cleat shim present a Material challenge even though it is not contacting your body? Yes. It will have a negative effect if it is within half a metre of your body. Up to 2 metres if you are unusually sensitive. There is a video post coming in the next few weeks called “Material Challenges / Scary Movie” which will illustrate the effects of this with Specialized in shoe wedges, shims, charity bracelets, one brand of generic arch support insole, some sunglasses and other stuff. Stay tuned.

      Yes, try the higher arch support option Specialized insoles. They’re insoles are fine. Make sure that the arch support is Level 2 as per the post on arch support. What shoe size? Sorry, my crystal ball isn’t working. Surely you can determine if a shoe fits you?

      You likely develop back pain while running because the left leg is falling further and hitting harder in the absence of any compensation for the shorter leg. You will have pelvic symmetry issues as well. How to compensate? A sports podiatrist can provide specific advice. At least he can see you; I can’t. Experiment with both options you mention and see what the result is.

      Set your mtb seat height as per the instructions outlined in the Seat Height posts.

      Best of luck.

      1. Thank you Steve, will need to experiment if I want to move to longer distance races with less pain:-)

  30. Hi Steve,

    First of all I would like to say, what a great blog – it’s been a real pleasure to read. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read so far; including comments by other readers and your replies. You clearly seem love sharing knowledge and get enjoyment from it and got to say thank you very much indeed. You’ve reminded me it’s worth stretching my calf muscles as I get grief from my shins as I’ve always had tight calves.

    I was pleased to read that my knee movement could be corrected with foot supports when I read your post Foot Correction Part 1, Arch Support – or the inward part of the movement at least. Though I couldn’t see how the whole movement could be corrected. Both my knees do this but it’s a lot more pronounced in the right and is giving me a problem just to the left of the knee cap. A niggly,lumpy muscle (to the touch) feeling that hasn’t got in the way yet but feels like it may do. I am cautious about riding much at the moment because I don’t want to make it worse. I’d really like to sort this as I enjoy cycling so much. I had it a while ago and don’t know if it’s temporary disappearance timed with having some physio.

    What happens? As my knee comes up it stops doing so in the vertical and moves inwards; just for a short but clearly noticeable distance and as it comes higher it moves back. It then goes out, away from the bike, further than it went inwards then on the way down it comes back in and returns to the vertical. So for the bottom section of travel the knee moves up and down vertically and for the top it raws a line like an inverted tear drop. The tear drop is off centre, with the majority to the outside of the bike and slightly higher than the inward portion. This isn’t from videoing or looking from the front but as close as I can see from looking at it closely whilst riding though I think my description may be fairly accurate versus what someone would see from looking from the front.

    I will probably visit your London based exponents, Sherritt and Corinne for a bike fitting later this year but a change in circumstances made me delay it. I have very low arches to the point where a straight talking chiropractor described them as being flat. I’ve had a problem (on and off though not very often) for many years from my right knee, in the same way that I am now. Earlier this year I had some physio and he got me to strengthen the knee and reduce the amount of movement in the knee cap – he said it had been moving around too much (eg when on a bike in the gym). However I still have a problem – it’s come back after doing a few rides after an enforced 7 weeks off the bike from a minor prolapsed disc.

    I also wondered if you could comment on Selle SMP saddles – they are extraordinarily expensive. Does something like a Specialized toupe not do as good a job? I currently use an Arione and get a little bit of numbness and am concerned about things functioning properly – may ask my doc about it but it’s extremely minor at the moment and don’t know if it’s bike related. Also have a bony back side – get through some train / airline cushioning too quickly for my liking (the price of women saying I have a nice bum?! – I will go put on weight!) and use high quality shorts and do get some saddle soreness after several hours.

    Thanks again for the blog and really looking forward to reading a reply


    1. G’day Craig,
      Thanks for the positive thoughts. Yes, I enjoy this to a
      point, but a greater portion of my reason for putting the time in is that there needs to be an antidote to a lot of the guff out there about bike fitting. Sub standard info has always been around but now there are some serious $ being thrown at a marketing shine on the same old stuff. Most bike fitting is more about marketing than providing an individual solution to individual problems. The info on the site is empirically tested and will work if applied properly and with a bit of thought.

      Anyway, to your problems. The movement of the right knee that you describe with it wavering in and out is not just about foot correction, though that will probably play a part. What you describe doesn’t happen unless there is a pelvic component to the problem. Sometimes a large part of it can be too high a seat height causing a Challenge to your position which will always be asymmetrically compensated for. I’d suggest working your way the posts about position on the site.

      Re SMP’s doing the job?
      You may be having numbness in the undercarriage because of simple things like seat too high or bars too low. Even cleat position can impact on how weight is borne on the seat. So work your way through the possibilities before you spend the money. I like SMP’s as a brand above all others because –
      1. Largest perineal cutouts
      2. Longest seat rails and potential for adjustment.

      The Specialized Toupe is a good seat but the shell tends to sag quickly. A
      better choice for many is the Specialized Romin.

      1. Hi Steve,

        Many thanks for the reply. As a naive student I wanted to go into marketing for the same reason of clearly communicating such things. I have learnt I have the kind of personality that can be easily caught out by such things so at least marketing and sales gave me an insight to help that before I realised it really isn’t for me.

        What I’d like to ask about is thickness of eSoles Supportive insoles, their thickness and whether I need a new pair of shoes. It’s a simpler question than that sounds, I think. Getting shoes for me isn’t easy as I take 12.5 UK/Aus and though one or two make to that size it isn’t always in the model / price you want and then hardly anyone stocks them. When I visited Australia and the US it was easier to get bigger sizes but not so much here in the UK. Anyway, c’est la vie. We all have challenges. I’ve got a pair of Northwave shoes and the length is about right (half a thumb width shorter my toe would be at the end so limit wearing thicker socks) but I am using the straps at around their limit because of the spare material in the middle. So I noticed that I have movement mainly on the up stroke when I am wearing any sock but a very thick winter one. At the moment I could do without unnecessarily buying new shoes and began to write to ask if the insoles are likely to be thick enough to help the shoe fit better and eliminate the movement. You see, I have pretty low arches and after reading your blog feel sure I would benefit from a pair and liked the sound of the eSoles.

        However as I write this I am thinking I will have done and just order the Sidi Genius 5 Pro 2011 shoes I’ve seen reduced in a couple of sizes to get the right ones whilst they are available (they can be returned for up to 30 days). As well as order a pair of eSoles – I will then get the benefit of them in the new shoes or if they sort the problem in the existing ones I take the Sidis back and have a cheaper solution! Hopefully one of those solutions does the job as it’s a challenge knowing which shoes may fit and getting shops to order them in for me, lest they be landed with them. I shop at one particular (normal, non-cycling) shoe shop because a manager knows I need room in the toe and which of their range may fit. C’es la vie! Fitting comes above all but if I do end up with a pair of Sidi I shall feel proud with the Rolls Royce of shoe brands on my feet.



      2. G’day Craig,
        eSoles Supportives are thicker than most shoes standard
        insoles and will take up more vertical space than your Northwave or Sidi insoles. Secondly, supporting your arches is likely to take up more vertical space in the shoes as well. One thing to be wary of; Sidi’s sizing is small. Most riders need half a size or a full size larger in Sidi to gain the same fit they have in most other brands.

  31. Good day Steve,

    Ive noticed my right foot has more pressure to the outer edge, close to my pinky toe (away from crank) when riding my MTB. Not causing any much pain but it just does not feel right. So recenlty I purchased cleat wedges and put one wedge on right shoe with the thick part facing the crank. First few minutes of riding and I already noticed the my right foot now sits more squarely on the pedal. Unfortunately the day after I noticed some medial pain (closer to crank) in my right knee. I also noticed that my right foot now appears to have more power compared to the left, it used to be the other way around before. I am thinking of moving my cleat closer to the crank so my shoe moves away from crank to alleviate the medial pain. I’ve only tested the wedge few rounds around the block and should I give it a few more rides to adjust?

    Any thoughts?

    BTW I am using 2 hole spd mtb cleats.

    Thank you for sharing with us your knowledge and insights with regards to fitting. I really enjoy reading your blogs and ideas and I think you’ve got it spot on as you don’t rely on arbitrary measurements like most fitters here in manila are accustomed too.

    One your ebooks cover MTB? Road? or both? Thanks again Steve.


    1. G’day Jordan,
      While what you suggest may be the solution, I think it is the least likely option. Here’s what I would do.

      1. Drop your seat 5mm. You mention that the right leg had never felt as powerful as the left. That suggests to me that you were self protecting it from a Challenge, most likely from seat height and most likely from hanging slightly to the left as a compensation. That would also explain the medial pain with the right cleat wedged.

      2. Get some quality arch support, it plays a huge part in matters like these. Arch support is the first and most important step in foot correction. Read the arch support post and apply the info.

      3. If you have done 1 and 2 and still have a problem, move your shoe closer to the crank arm. That will reduce the ability of your knee to roll in which is the likely cause of your medial knee pain.

      4. If you have done 1, 2 and 3 and find that moving the right shoe out does solve the problem as you suspect, then there is a high likelihood that you are dropping or rolling forward the left hip.

      1. Thanks for the suggestions Steve, they make so much sense. Unfortunately, they don’t sell superfeet or esoles here in Manila, so I’m still waiting for my overseas purchase to arrive.

        Your blog is the best! Cheers.

  32. Steve,

    Can cleat wedges assist in a fallen/collapsed arch under load? (Would they help keep the foot supinated).

    1. G’day Marc,
      arch support is necessary to support a fallen or collapsing
      arch under load. Wedging is to correct rearfoot misalignment in the main and forefoot misalignment occasionally. If you wedge with out supporting the dropping arch, all you are doing is changing the plane through which the arch drops.

  33. Hi Steve,

    Am switching from Specialized BG Wedges to BikeFit wedges because of the material challenge to the CNS and was wondering (besides the material challenge difference) does 1 BG Wedge equal 1 BifeFit Wedge as far as amount of correction?


    1. G’day Marc,
      yes; one for one. The only significant difference between a Bike Fit ITS wedge and a Specialized in shoe wedge is the material they are made from.

  34. Steve,

    Can the use of wedges effect the way one sits on the saddle? (lateral and rotational wise) Or do they not because they are theoretically just correcting the cant of the foot. Please let me know. Thanks.


    1. G’day Marc,
      The answer can be either.

      There is no ‘rule’ and individuals respond individually. The pelvis is the foundation of a position on a bike. Every pedal stroke is an ‘input’ to the pelvis and a potential challenge to its stability on seat.
      Whether changing the pedal stroke by wedging affects the pelvis will depend on how good the basic position is, how stable the rider is in that position, how functional the rider’s general range of motion while pedaling is, and whether lack of wedging is a major challenge to the position. All of these things vary from person to person.

      Every system, structure and process in the body is interconnected, so don’t be surprised if wedging does affect the way that you sit. Equally, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

  35. Hi Steve,

    Thanks so much for the informative blog!

    I’m an age grouper triathlete (short course and half). Or at least was. Running the Melb half marathon a year or two back I developed sharp painful knee pain. Turns out it was a combination of itb and really tight peroneal longus or tendon… I have very high arches and my right foot pronates causing my right knee to track in, when lunging, riding and running. the following year, while doing the alpine classic I had what felt like a knife in my knee coming back into bright before buffalo, and had to stop.

    I have what seems like a million questions after reading your blog… I got some temporary custom orthodics with arch supoport and a roll bar to try and correct my right foot and fix function with my peroneal longus for running. This worked reasonably well, and worked even better For cycling. Now they seem to have given up the ghost and am probably due for a new custom set for running and riding.

    My questions are; is it possible to start pronating after injury to the foot? Perhaps after riding keo pedals with sand shoes? (that’s right, afterwards the area under my right foot was tender for days)

    if so, can it be corrected without orthodics? I.e feldenkrais? (I feel that orthodics and wedging is a band aid solution)

    Can you recommend a bike fitter in southeast/east Melbourne that has a similar detailed understanding as you, for both cycling and running? Who also may have a similar view to me, I.e. Likes to try and fix the root cause?

    1. G’day Ben,
      Thanks for your positive comments.

      Q: “Is it possible to start pronating after injury to the foot?”
      A: Possibly. Why the right foot and not the left is the more important question. It is more likely that you aggravated a pre existing condition that you may not have been aware of at the time.

      Q: Is it possible to correct without orthotics?
      A: I don’t know. All I know is what you have told me which is scant on detail. It depends on what the problem is, what level of seriousness you are prepared to commit to in an effort to change the way your feet function, how well you picked your parents and how your global structural development has suited you for permanent solution without orthotics or other intervention.
      Re your comments about orthotics and wedging being a band aid solution. I can’t agree. Every case is different and it is hard to generalise accurately.

      Q: Is there a bike fitter ………….in Melbourne………etc.
      A: If there is, I don’t know about them. There is a gent name Jason at Inspired Orthotic Solutions who does a bit of bike fitting. How good he is at that I don’t know. What I do know is that a pro triathlete I know who has what must be the worlds worst feet went to see him and got a result for a
      running problem and an on bike foot problem.

      Previously he had seen a number of people in several country’s without
      result. Jason was motivated enough to embark on a trial and error process
      with him which involved making him several pairs of orthoses until he got it
      right. He only charged him for one pair. I would suggest you see him as to
      what is and isn’t possible with your foot problem.

  36. Hi i have tried your varus foot canting at the heel with some Speedplay wedges on my mountain bike. I am using Mavic Fury shoes Superfeet yellow cycling foot beds and Time Atac pedals but on long rides 3 hours plus i am getting sore feet i am only using one wedge and my cleat is 1.5cm behind the pedal axle as far back on shoe as possible.
    Do you think it is the Speedplay wedge i know you don’t recommend them in the shoe?

    1. G’day Danny,
      I don’t know. I do know that Speedplay wedges don’t work
      when used as a heel wedge so it is possible. Was there an issue before you placed the Speedplay wedge there?

      There are a whole raft of possibilities as to why you have sore feet; too far forward a cleat cleat position, too high a seat height, not enough arch support, inappropriate wedging and so on.

  37. Steve,

    I have a question about installing Bike Fit Cleat wedges. I have my cleats positioned all the rearward, so when I put the cleat wedge under the cleat and move it all the rearward as well there is still about 2mm of the front sticking out. I feel it affects the way my foot clips in/out of pedal and also the way my foot is set on the pedal. Should I trim this this lip off?

  38. Hello Steve
    I stumbled on your website looking for help for my foot problem. For years feet have gone numb while riding. Shoe change helped, ended with Carnac for the wider toe box. Now I have Sidi with 4 shims for wedge under left cleat and 2 under right. I did this to reduce pressure on the outside toes setting by comfort . All of my cleat positions had been set by my local guy using F.I.T. system. After preseason strength and core work switched to on road training with hard muscle tension workouts. Same time had feet pain in street shoes. I had some custom arch supports made for street shoes. Then inserts made for my cycling shoes but too thick and crushed forefoot causing pain 30 min into a 2 hour ride. I am seeing an Orthopedist about this problem, but he has little experience in cycling. Now have bought Specialize shoes to start from the beginning. Foot numbness has progressed to pain and had to stop at 70m during an event that I had been training for. Now my interest to ride the bike is very low due to frustration with my feet. June since I done any real riding because of this problem.
    Can arch supports and shims for wedge alleviate forefoot numbness? Any other solutions?

    Keith R.

    1. G’day Keith,
      Yes, arch supports and wedging can alleviate foot numbness.
      Whether they do or not depends on nature of the problem. You mention pain when walking as well as riding so it maybe that the morphology of your feet is such that you need some sort of intervention. You don’t say anything about your feet other than they hurt.

      Do you have high arches, low arches, flat feet etc?
      Do you pronate markedly?
      What does your orthopedist say about your feet?

      Assuming that foot morphology is part of the problem, and it is likely, then start with arch support using the info in the arch support post and get that right. Once done, then start with wedging. If you genuinely need 4 wedges as well as arch support, then you are in rare company. I’ve seen it, but it isn’t common which makes me wonder about your feet.

      1. Steve
        I have really high arches. Walking shoe wear makes me believe that I under pronate. Ortho suggested custom arch support in street shoes. I put eSoles supportive in a brand new pair of Specialize S-works shoes with no wedging under cleats. What wedging is built into S-Works shoe? During first ride I had a pocket full of cleat wedges, tape and the black arch supports. Added one wedge to left heel, only because I had the most wedges under the left cleat. After a week of riding the level 2 went to level 1 on intrusion, moved up to the black arch supports. Next I am taking on cleat position using method 2 due to past numbness.
        I am really looking at mid cleat position. May have a machinist help me make an adaptor/modify old pair of shoes. Have you heard of anyone using look pedals and cleats for mid foot? Going to give it a few more weeks to retrain and adapt to arch supports. May see Tim Gresh, in West Chester, PA , I am in North Carolina. .
        After about 3 months of Doctors and the technicians that make custom inserts to get improvements in my feet, only improvement came after reading you blog, then following your advice.
        Thanks again for the great information on this blog. I may be getting back on track.

      2. G’day Keith,
        I like Specialized shoes for a variety of reasons but I can
        safely say that either –
        There is no correction built in to them
        If there is, it is has zero effect

        From a proprioceptive feedback point of view, I find no difference between Specialized shoes and other major brands.

        Yes, I have seen several people use Look cleats with midfoot cleat position but it is a pain, a large pain, to get it right. The problem is the curve on the underside of the cleat. There is no matching curve on the midfoot of any shoe that I’ve seen. Meaning that something has to be machined up and inserted between cleat and shoe sole.

        You are better off using Speedplay with the aluminium baseplate, part no. 13330 as the base. If so, Shimano or Lake are the pick in terms of ease of modification, though I saw a pair of Specialized S Works shoes that had been modified for midfoot by a Specialized BG technical gent who I met on the weekend. He was using Speedplay with the aluminium base plate and it seems as straight forward with those shoes as it does with Shimano and slightly easier than with Lake.

        I don’t know whether Tim has had much experience with midfoot, but if / when
        you are going to him, let me know and I’ll talk to him about it.

        And lastly, glad that you are closer to getting a result. I’m happy for you.

      3. I have some success adapting shoes by constructing a impression of the shape cleat-sole interface desired. Using a thin piece of aluminum stock I bend it to the desired curve. I apply hard drying epoxy to the shoe, cover it in wax paper and press the aluminum form on the epoxy. When dry the wax paper allows for removing the aluminum form which leaves the dried epoxy in exactly the desired shape. Adjustments can be made by sanding or filing the epoxy as needed. In the case of SPD pedals the aluminum form can be left on the shoe providing additional protection to the epoxy.

      4. G’day Keith,
        I have done similar and it works. The problem is that over
        time the epoxy ‘form’ can crack or crumble. In the end I gave it away as too much trouble and used Speedplay aluminium baseplates. Much easier.

  39. Hi Steve,

    I have been experiencing pain near the transverse tarsal joint in the ankle…could this be a cause from a lack of varus wedges?

      1. Steve,

        So it is more likely that it is a problem with arch support rather than wedging? Given the right amount of arch support, what could be some other reasons for this type of pain. Cleat q-factor? (I have the cleats set up as mentioned in your article by method two, with the cleats all the way to the inside, giving my the most amount of q-factor with look keo cleats.) I have arch support that is on the number 2 scale of being intrusive while standing. I notice both on my pedal and cleat (on this side) that the wear is mostly all on the inside (nearest the crank)..I believe this is why the transverse tarsal joint is being tweaked because it is twisting down as indicated by the wear on the inside of pedal cleat.

      2. G’day Anonymous,Not necessarily. You didn’t mention arch support in your original comment and so I needed to cover that possibility. From what you’ve just told me, arch support isn’t the problem. As a general rule, if you are loading the inside edge of the cleat, then yes, that is the side the thick side of the wedges should be applied to.You mention that you have the widest foot separation distance possible with Keos. Is it enough?By that I mean is the centre of the knee descending over the centre of the midtarsal area or outboard of that?Is one knee further from the centre line while pedaling than the other?

      3. Steve, Thanks for the quick reply!
        From what you mention I will try wedges with the thick side to the inside (the part that is being loaded). One question about that, after reading your blog about wedging, I see there is 3 different methods: ITS, Heel, and Cleat Wedge…as far as which one I should use it that a matter of trial and error since 1 CW = 1 ITS = 1 heel wedge?

        After reviewing a video (under load) my knees are tracking pretty well. My right is is descending directly over the center of the midtarsal area..(and the side that I have been having problems with) actually descends slightly inboard of the midtarsal area.

      4. G’day Anonymous,
        Most people are best served by heel wedging. A
        substantial minority need forefoot wedging in the form of a cleat wedge and a very small minority need forefoot wedging in form of an in shoe wedge. Sometimes a combination of any or all of these is required. I use the ITS wedges to quickly determine how much total correction is necessary. I then add arch support which invariably means that ITS wedge numbers need reducing. Once I’ve determined the degree of arch support and how many ITS wedges are needed for proprioceptive clarity, I then test to determine the placement of the wedges. A clear proprioceptive response will always be possible with forefoot wedging in the shoe. However, if the placement of the wedges isn’t ideal, over a month or so, the nervous system adapts by ignoring the stimuli. Unfortunately explaining how to avoid that is IP I am protecting for the time being and even if I wasn’t, it isn’t the sort of thing that lends itself to email transmission.

        You already have decent arch support, so start with ITS wedges until you are convinced that you have the right number. Then experiment with wedge location and one or the other or occasionally a combination should feel noticeably better than other locations. This is how I had to work out my own wedging.

      5. Thanks Steve,

        If it is how you worked out your own wedging, I trust it! One last thing about arch support and proprioceptive feedback: what do you recommend if one is using the highest e-soles arch support (black) and it gets to a point where it isn’t as “intrusive” as it should be…is there anything on the market that is higher/more supportive than this or is there a solution that you have found?

      6. G’day Anon,
        Re arch support. If already using the black insert and if it
        is not ‘mildly intrusive’, add a layer of BBB gel cork bartape underneath the black arch support. Use packing tape or gaffer tape to hold it in place. I suggest the BBB brand gel cork tape because my experience is that it takes a very long time to compress and will work for months. If / when it compresses down, you can replace and add more.

  40. Steve,

    What type of wedging would you suggest in seeing feet with this type of forefoot angle. I understand that there is some kind of forefoot varus, but I don’t understand the difference between forefoot and heel varus. I know from reading your blog that the whole story cannot be told from a static measurement such as this, but what would be some of the first steps that you would take in assessing these feet before putting the client under load.

    Thanks, AL

  41. Steve,

    After installing cleat wedges my cleat rotation feels a bit more heel in on the bike. I set the cleats up exactly the same as before…do varus cleat wedges typically cause more of a rotation in or out after being installed? If I correct the rotation wouldn’t that have an effect on the fore/aft placement of the cleat, or is it so small that it wouldn’t effect anything substantial?


    1. G’day Darla,
      they often cause more heel in foot position but can also
      cause the opposite or no change at all. Are you using Level 2 arch support? If not, revisit your wedging numbers with arch support fitted first.

  42. G’day Steve.
    I really hope you can help me with a few quick questions.
    Unsure as to where to post exactly, but i feel here is as good as anywhere, hopefully that’s OK.
    I live in Scotland Steve. I’m 6′ exactly, 32yo 90kg( lost over a stone this past few months too 😉 . I have purchased supportive esoles, speedplay zeros, bikefit wedges, speedplay shims and speedplay extender base plates. I experience numbness on the outsides of my feet after long rides, I’ve had a little knee pain in the past but not a great deal and i have been suffering what i believe to be Achilles tendonitis too after rides 65 miles +. I previously used look keos but they no where near go back far enough on my cycle shoes and after using method 2 of determining cleat position arrived at 14mm behind ball of foot(done with my long index nail;)
    First off, my left side is always fine! it always feels fine on the bike (less tendonitis) my right side always seems to be all over the place, with little niggles here and there.
    This brought me to your blog (actually a DVD with a cycle magazine brought me to your blog initially)

    My cycle shorts ‘wear’ where my left sit bone is on all my shorts. My left sit bone incidentally seems larger, after suffering saddle sores recently and severe pain on my left sit bone it led me to my 5th saddle!! a fizik aliante w carbon braided rails.. I believe I’ve found saddle nirvana now and so, one problem at least is solved!, but I’m not sure if this maybe could be bursitis i think they call it…
    Anyway, new saddle = no more butt pain!
    So that appears to be one indicator! worn shorts.

    Also, (something i read somewhere) when sitting up on the kitchen work top my legs dangling over, my left foot points almost at 12, my right at 1!
    I have high arches, my left arch more so than my right arch (arrived at with blue arch support in left shoe and taking out blue in right shoe and replacing with red arch support to achieve level 2 intrusion when on the bike cycling for a period of time)

    When cycling, my right leg, tends to be heel in, toe outwards and my left leg tends to be toe in heel out.
    I’m sure my right leg is shorter than my left. I believe this to be so as when on the rollers, going hard, i perceive my left side to be more fluent and strong.
    After removing the Keo cleats and fitting the insoles, speedplay cleats/shims/wedges with probably closer to 20mm more aft positioning than previously with the LOOK, I’m really quite surprised to find I’ve not made an alteration to my seat height, nor fore aft movement? Hmm, there may be a little adjustment to be had yet (thinking fore 5mm)as it’s early days but, i fully expected to need to make a fore adjustment (due to cleat movement) and maybe drop the saddle 3-5mm.
    Current saddle height 765mm-set back 90mm.

    i One question, after suitable arch support, wedging and shimming, in all likelihood will my feet still be right foot=heel in toe out, left foot=toe in heel out, or both in a more forward facing position…
    You see, the last two days I’ve been experimenting and I have had my feet in a position where they seem to be more forward facing (simply through wedging etc not as a goal), but also in a position now where they seem to be more comfortable, but back to RH heel in, LH Heel out.

    ii By the info I’ve given, does it sound like my right leg is indeed the shorter leg? as I’m quite paranoid, my body is making compensations and knowing the luck i have, in fact it’ll be my left leg that’s shorter haha.

    iii By “knee tracking forefoot” is there any DIY advice you may have of finding a fairly reliable way of gauging and figuring this out and also i think i read somewhere here too “knee tracking forefoot as leg extends”..
    Is this from the highest point of the legs revolution, forward through the pedal stroke.
    I’ve tried videoing but my iphone isn’t the greatest for that, although all things considered, tracking is definitely better now than it was, like i say my right leg moved about alot. I have my right cleat set up, cleat as far in towards the bike as possible, therefore shoe out, to allow what i perceive to be my knee to track and my heel to come in, where it seems to naturally sit when sitting on kitchen worktop.

    I’ve tried to be as short and concise as possible here Steve and provide relevant information, without rambling. I realise you’re a busy guy. The bike whisperer would undoubtedly be my port of call, if it were local for me but London is a hike and I’m broke! especially after the outlay on the speedplay gear.
    Any help or info, any light you may shed upon the situation would be greatly appreciated Steve.
    My current set up ..
    Left Leg- Blue arch support, lowest metatarsal support, cleat position 14mm behind 1st Metatarsal + 2 bikefit wedges.
    Right Leg- Red arch support, lowest metatarsal support, 14mm behind, one 3mm shim and one bikefit wedge.


    1. G’day Garry,
      Everything you say suggests that you are favouring the left leg (more wear on the knicks on that side, sitbone pain on that side etc) but whether that is because of a shorter right leg or not is what you need to find out. It is even conceivable that you have a shorter left leg. Your description of left foot / heel in and right foot / heel out makes it likely that you are twisting the left side of your pelvis forward on the seat. Doing so will not only challenge the plane of movement of the right leg but will also make the right foot wander around on the pedals.

      So my suggestion is to go to the root of the problem and find out whether any perceived difference is the result of a bone length difference between legs or whether it is a functional difference brought about by asymmetric posture and function.

      Your first port of call should be a quality physio or similar to determine leg length. If there is any doubt or equivocation in their diagnosis, follow up with an x ray to nail down the reality of the situation. That way you are dealing with fact rather than guesswork. Once you’ve done that, get back to me with what you find out.

  43. Steve,

    You say that in wedging it is either a “yes” or “no” answer and there are no shades of “right” or “wrong.” Typically how long does it take for you to know if you have achieved the right amount of wedging. Will it just “feel” like the right amount? Or does it take several rides in order for the feet to feel proprioceptive feedback? Please let me know when you have a chance. Thank you so much.

    1. G’day Chalmers077,
      It is a yes or no answer if you are using the testing protocol I use which is based on CNS feedback to any change in the cant of the foot. Without that it has to be trial and error and your perceptions of what feels good or otherwise. To give you an example; I cannot apply my testing protocol to myself. I had the only person I have taught it too, Scherrit Knoesen, apply it to me while he was here earlier in the year. We found that I was using the correct amount of arch support and wedging and placement of wedging on my right foot. On the left side I had the correct amount of arch support but one wedge too many. So pretty close but not perfect

      I had arrived at the arch support and wedging numbers by trial and error and encourage you to do the same. Above all, don’t rush changes. If you add a wedge, use it for at least a week and one long ride to make a determination as to whether it is an improvement or not and be mindful of the suggestions in the How To Avoid Bike Fit Hell post.

  44. G’day Steve,

    I’ve had ITB pains in both legs for the last 2 years and have had tenotomy and injections with no solutions. although i did a year of solid riding after the surgery but has since come back. I was given advice from a studying osteo to use 2 cleat wedges either side so that the inside of my foot rotates upward.
    Since pain has been persisting i put 3 on each side now, but it feels just blah.. very ordinary.At the moment i have both heels pointy into the BB.
    Also I would like to note that my seat height is NOT too high.

    Would love to hear your opinion as i thought in this case cleat wedges used in this circumstance would be putting more pressure on the ITB.
    Regards, Trevor

    1. G’day Trevor,
      You don’t give me much go on. ITB pain on a bike is always caused by the hip dropping on the other side to where the pain is experienced. The hip drop challenges the plane of motion of the leg on the other side. If you are loading both ITB’s while riding you are dropping both hips which means you are unstable on the seat. Typically this means poor flexibility in the hips and lower back. Does that describe you?

      A related but different reason is when the rider is so tight in the external hip rotators that their knees track outboard of the feet. Do your do that?

      Let me know and I’ll attempt to advise

      1. Hi Steve,
        My flexibility is pretty good, not fantastic but better than most and have been told i have a unstable pelvis(lots of movement). However I am quite tight in external hip rotators, even though i do stretching and foam roller. My knee’s track in-line with my feet.
        My right leg is longer than my left by ~4mm for which i’m using a 3mm LL shim for, and i’m using a fizik arione saddle. My build type is slim 1.81m @63kg and I feel as though I am unstable on the seat.

        Regards, Trevor

      2. G’day Trevor,
        Your original query was about persistent bilateral ITB pain. If this is caused by cycling, or exacerbated by cycling, then pelvic instability on the seat is why. That leaves you with two basic possibilities – poor bike position, poor function or both.

        I would suggest tacking your general functional issues off the bike first. If you are tight in the external hip rotators and no amount of stretching or foam rolling sorts that out, then it is not the root cause of the problem. You need to see a quality physio or functional trainer to find out what is going on and address any issues that are identified. Put ‘self movement screen’ into google and watch the Gray Cook video that comes up. Put yourself through the assessment and see how you fare. If you can pass, then the bike is definitely the problem. If you can’t pass, then you know what to work on. If you find that you have plenty to work on get hold of “Athletic Body in Balance” by Gray Cook and put the info in that book to work to remedy hte issues the self assessment identifies.

        Once that process is complete, then you can tackle your bike position. Regarding your comment re wedging; arch support is far more important and has more impact that wedging alone. Your friend should have advised you to get some Esoles and it is worth reading the post on Arch Support.

      3. G’day Trevor,
        Your original question was about persistent bilateral ITB
        pain. ITB pain caused by cycling is always caused by pelvic instability on the seat. Maybe the wedging advice you received was good, maybe it wasn’t. I’ve got to say here that wedging without arch support is largely useless *if arch support is what is needed.*
        I strongly suggest you get hold of some Esoles Supportives in your size and read and follow the instructions in the Arch Support post. Every pedal stroke is a potential challenge to pelvic stability. If lack of arch support is causing you to move your knees laterally on each pedal stroke, then potentially the ITB’s will flare up and the contortions that most autonomically adopt to try and work around that can cause poor on seat stability.

        The other issue is your stability generally. If you are unstable, that should be the focus of a lot of your off the bike spare time. Get hold of a book called “Athletic Body in Balance” by Gray Cook and put yourself through the screening outlined in that book. For the exercises you fail, there is a suggested progression of exercises to remedy the problem.

        Lastly, if you have tight external rotators of the hips and your knees stick out when pedalling, but your foot separation distance isn’t wide enough for
        the knees to descend vertically, then that too will cause the ITBs to fire
        up while contributing nothing positive to your one seat stability.

        There is plenty to work on there and I’m interested to hear how you get on.

  45. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your blog. I have had a bike fit or two over the years but never been satisfied or trusted it. A key reason for my skepticism is no one ever bothered to look at cleat placement or any kind of wedging – the beginning and end of my fit seemed to be based around my knee angle – and I’ve felt that my fit should start with my cleat placement. I’m glad that I’ve found a resource that explain bike fit in way more detail than anyone has before.

    Do you by chance know anyone near Seattle, WA USA who you would recommend for a bike fit? If not, I’ll take the nearest recommendation you could give me, even if it’s a few states away. Thanks Steve!

    1. G’day Chris,
      I understand your frustration. The only fitter that I can
      recommend first hand in your general area of the U.S. is-
      Greg Choat in Nevada
      him and have a chat. If you like what you hear, go and see him.

  46. Steve,

    How should a wedge be combined with a shoe that has a shim stack? Do you recommend putting it between the shim stack and the cleat?

    Also, I understand what “under wedging” and the right amount of wedge feels like (solid on the pedal), but how do you know if you overshoot and “over wedge,” what type of sensation would this apply to the foot. Thanks.


    1. G’day Bill,
      My preference in most cases when combining cleat wedging with
      shim stack is to have the wedge(s) on top; that is immediately under the cleat. I occasionally do the opposite but only for other reasons.

      The other question is “Do you need cleat wedging?” I find that about 70% of people are best served with heel wedging, approximately 20% with cleat wedging and the remainder with a combination or very rarely, in shoe wedging.

      Re overwedging; usually there are no signs at the foot but the lateral ankle or either side of the knee make their presence felt over time if there are two many.

      Providing arch support is good, the huge majority need wedge number of zero to 3 on each foot and it can be different for each foot. That leaves a finite number of combinations to play with. With arch support, it is a very uncommon occurrence for me to use more than 3 wedges on one side with a client. In fact of the 3 or less brigade per side, most need from 0 to 2.

  47. Steve,

    What is the reasoning behind adding a rear foot wedge along with the use of a forefoot wedge when Tibial Varum is apparent? Thanks.

    1. G’day Bill,
      Because it works in most cases in the sense of allowing the
      knee on that side to descend without lateral movement or with minimum lateral movement. I hasten to add that this is not a universal rule, but is very common. You will have read that I have found a definitive way to determine the amount of foot correction, relative balance between arch support and wedging, and the placement of wedging (cleat, heel or inshoe forefoot or any combination). The statement you refer to comes from the experience of applying the testing protocol I’ve developed.

  48. I saw you mention in some people that varying the separation of there feet will change the amount of wedging they need. I also saw a post that said fore or aft movement of the cleat will not effect wedging. Are there other things that will change the amount of wedging assuming arch support is correct? Could changing to a new seat change the amount of wedging needed or if that occurs dose it mean something else went wrong? I recently changed to The smp dynamic from a old beat up specialized toupe and seemed to need 2 more wedges on my left foot.


    1. G’day Bill,
      First a correction; I didn’t say tha changing foot separation
      distance WILL require a change in wedging, I said it MAY require a change in wedging. I’ve seen it happen but it is a minority and not that common.
      Could changing the seat make a difference to wedging?
      Yes, conceivably, but only if the seat change forced a change in on seat pelvic symmetry. I would guess that if your left foot needed two more wedges on a Dynamic than on a Toupe, that you are now sitting more squarely or less squarely. I’m always suspicious of left side issues because more often than not they have a right side cause. Are you sure that your effective seat height is not a little too high with the seat change?

      If it is, you may be dropping the right hip leaving the left foot wandering a bit on the pedal. If so, that may be what you have responded to with increased wedging.

      Other factors that lead to a change in wedge numbers, assuming arch support is unchanged?

      1. A significant increase or decrease in functionality. I saw an extreme example of this last year. I had a client in his mid 20’s who was a real mess. Almost Quasimodo like. He left with arch support and 9 varus wedges on the left side. That (and a whole lot of other stuff sorted out his chronic
      left knee pain on the bike). I directed him to some excellent physios who
      specialise in rebuilding posture and function. Over the next 12 months he
      came back 4 times because of a return of the left knee pain. Each time he
      was functioning with significantly improved symmety than the time before.
      Each time I removed wedges from the left side and left the right side as is.
      After 12 months the 9 varus wedges had become 1 valgus wedge and that is
      where he has stayed for the last 10 months or so. He now stands about an
      inch taller and doesn’t have a spiral twist (rotoscoliosis) in his spine any
      more. This is the largest change I have seen and is very uncommon. At least
      in my experience.

      2. Time. Sometimes a client responds to a certain combination of foot
      correction but months later needs an increase or decrease. This isn’t that
      common with unchanged function but I see it occasionally. I suspect it is
      because that correcting the feet can set off a process of adaptation in
      some, and once that process is complete, a change is necessary.

      In your case Bill, I would recheck seat height in an on road / uphill test.

      1. Steve

        You were correct. Uphill test showed me less fluent on the left. I did make a mistake in my initial post in that I had to add the 2 wedges to the right side not left. This need for additional wedging went away when I redid the tilt of the seat (smp dynamic) from 4.5% down to 3 % down and I went back to my orginal wedging . The greater tilt must have caused a change in my pelvic symmetry. That along with being a little high. The wedging change though occurred before I lowered the seat height.

        I constantly battle believing my seat hieght is so low. I rode for years 35 mm higher (not successfully) with my hips dropping aggressively.



      2. G’day Bill,
        Don’t worry about it. If you’re riding well, are stable and
        pain free; then you have a good seat height. The shop record for me dropping a clients seat height is 75mm! He was a well credentialled health professional who couldn’t understand why his knees were hurting! I couldn’t understand why ONLY his knees were hurting!!

        Have fun.

  49. Hi Steve,
    I have just ordered my ESoles, so at the moment I do not have arch support on a Level 2 scale…what is the best option in terms of wedging for the time being? Should I ride without wedges, or try to wedge? I saw that prior to your use of ESoles you had a lot more wedges…is that something I should try? Thanks


    1. G’day Jimmy,
      I would save your self potential aggravation and not
      bother experimenting with wedge numbers until your Esoles arrive. I can’t stress enough that arch support is the key to foot correction. Wedging is necessary for most but is a side issue compared to arch support.

  50. Hi Steve,
    Great blog! I just have a question about wedges and the effect on saddle height. Is saddle height something that should be rechecked after the addition of 2 wedges on each side, or are they not effecting the reach to the pedal because they are just correcting the cant of the foot? Thanks

    1. G’day Jonathan,
      The seat height implications of adding a couple of
      wedges on one or both sides are negligible. However, if after a period you decide to leave the wedges in place, I would recheck seat height anyway. Not because of the stack height of the wedges but because occasionally the addition of proper foot correct induces a change in pedalling technique; that is more or less heel down. This doesn’t happen often but often enough that it is worth checking.

  51. Steve

    Great blog! I have worked very hard to achieve a good position on the bike and your advice has been eye opening as it has shattered many of the circulating myths. Despite this I have had difficulty obtaining a good position. This I believe is the fault of my poor functionality. I am working on the functionality. I found the most difficult and interrelated variables to be seat height and correct foot support. (arch and wedge). If one of these variables was removed by knowing the outcome for foot support I think finding the correct seat height would be much easier.

    How are you coming with releasing this patent pending process? Is this process possible to purchase or do you have some one in the US, or can this be done on a video fit?

    Having said that after much work I think I am close. How often in dysfunctional people are you not able to get a perfect fit? Maybe I am banging my head against the wall with out cause. I can not make both sides feel exactly the same but can also see that that my pelvis is not stable on video which I suspect is the problem.

    Video does show it to be much better than when I started. You have video posted of some really significant pelvic motion(initially I could have challenged some of these).What dose the average guy look like from the rear when you are done ? I do not have reference to know what we should look like if average.



    A side note any upcoming blog on knee pain? Would love to see your thoughts.

    1. G’day Bill,
      thank you for your positive thoughts. To answer your questions.

      Q: “How are you coming with releasing this patent pending process?”
      A: I’m 2 years into what I’m told is typically a 6 year process, though that can vary.

      Q: ” Is this process possible to purchase or do you have some one in the US, or can this be done on a video fit?
      A: I’m keen to teach the process to those interested and get regular enquiries. To date, apart from Scherrit Knoesen, all have foundered on either cost or not being able to meet conditions I stipulate.I have 3 people in the U.S. who tell me they will come here next year. Nothing is confirmed as yet though.

      Basically I will teach people who have any 2 of the following. 1. Wide experience in bike fitting. 2 Wide experience in cycling and cycling equipment. 3. Excellent knowledge of functional anatomy. I can overcome a lack in one of those areas but not two. At least not in any realistic time frame. And no, I’m sorry but it is not possible to go through the process via video.

      Q: “How often in dysfunctional people are you not able to get a perfect fit?”
      A: That depends on your definition of ‘perfect’ fit. My definition is the
      fit is excellent when the client can ride for the duration they wish at the
      intensity they wish to 99% of the time without developing problems. I see a
      lot of dysfunctional clients and can only work with who they are; not who
      they would like to be and with effort and time, may become. That means in
      many cases I am not satisfied but also know that the source of my
      dissatisfaction is they way that the client functions, not the job that
      I’ve done.
      Get hold of a book called The Athletic Body in Balance and put yourself
      through the assessments in that book. If you fail any of them, the book as
      graduated exercises to restore function. When someone can pass those
      assessments, fitting them to a bike well should be fairly straightforward.

      Q: “What dose the average guy look like from the rear when you are done?”
      A: If by ‘average’ you mean average function, then on their bike they look
      like a better tracking, more stable,comfortable and powerful version of
      the person who walked in. This doesn’t mean perfect. I will tell you that
      nobody sits squarely on a bike but the really functional ones are hard to
      pick. Ideally there should be no side to side movement coinciding with each
      pedal stroke as there often is with people who are tight in the hips and
      lower back.

      Q; “A side note; any upcoming blog on knee pain?
      A: It’s 90+% finished. I need a couple of video clips and am waiting to
      see fit clients who display those things to shoot footage of.

  52. Medial pain on the left leg, inside of knee, left ITB feels irritated off the bike. Without seeing me in person, what jumps out to you? Here is my diagnosis. Left leg shorter, no shim causing the knee to track in toward the TT. Fix. Shim left leg, wedge to align knee with rotation. I have orhtotics, but after reading you recommendation on them, I feel I may look into the Esoles.

    1. G’day Bruce,
      almost certainly you are dropping or rotating forward the right hip or both. ITB pain is almost always the dropping of the other hip. With some a right hip drop causes the left knee to track outboard. For others, it causes the left hip to internally rotate and causes medial knee pain.
      Here’s a ‘To Do’ list.
      1. I can all but guarantee that your walking orthoses are not doing the job in your cycling shoes. Even if they are perfectly prescribed for walking. So get some other form of arch support. Currently, Esoles are the pick.
      2. You imply you have wedged your left foot. What about the right?
      Something is causing you to drop the right hip. It might be long term asymmetric patterns of movement but it also might be self protection of the favoured right side over the left. If so, the most common right side issues are lack of arch support and wedging.
      3. Check seat height as per the test in the Seat Height post.
      4. Make sure you are not reaching out or down too far to the bars. Doing so will destabilise you and push you into ‘compensate by favouring the right side’ mode.

      1. The orthotic is a cycling specific made by a local PT. It was made with my foot in a neutral position, but I have thought about trying the esoles as you recommend to see if there is any change in support.
        Right side..Hmmm. I need to let my wife take a look at me from above and see if she can see me drop to the right.

      2. G’day Bruce,
        How was it made?
        If there was any heel contact with the floor, a platform or any other object while the degree of correction was being determined, then your orthoses will not have been correctly prescribed.

        If there was no heel contact, then your chances of them being correct or close are much higher providing there is a mildly intrusive level of arch support.

      3. They were made with me lying down on the PT exam table with plaster cast and the PT manipulating my feet into a neutral position. They were not as intrusive as the ones that came out of my D2 customs in the past, and since I have been racing and training on them since last season, they do not feel intrusive anymore. I had a fitting in the past where the left leg was determined to have a length difference. Typically if I get saddle sores, the are on the left side of the ramii. THe knee ache was the big concern. It started after my season break of two weeks, and I have been doing base work since, so no hard efforts. The knee pain would happen on the inside of the knee at the hinging point between the femur and tib. I have my forefoot device to measure that, but I have to train the Mrs. to be able to use it correctly. Just in her playing around with it, we are getting anywhere from 10 to 12 degrees on each foot of forefoot varus. I am also very flat footed.

      4. G’day Bruce,
        It sounds like your cycling specific orthose are not doing
        the job; if they ever were. Get hold of some ESoles Supportives but make sure that they come with the highest black arch option. If you can’t find them with the black arch option, all of the one we sell are shipped with the black arch. I say this because I’ve lost count of the number of people with flat feet who needed the highest arch option to have the level of arch support feel mildly intrusive when standing which is desirable. Esoles arch supports are flexible and flat footed riders tend to compress them down significantly.

        The other thing you need to do is to compensate for your shorter leg with a shim. Re the FFMD and wedging; you’ll make more headway with trial and error testing than you will by using the FFMD recommendations. The other thing is that flat feet in most cases tend to respond best to heel wedging, not cleat wedging.

        I hope this helps.

      5. Last nights ride went much better, we are losing light fast on the East Coast right now, so I am limited to 1.5 hours, but I wedged the left with two wedges and did the same on the right (Trial and Error). I also dropped the seat and rode until I felt either cramped up or overextending, settlign on the saddle height that I have been at for about three seasons now, give or take. I also did the cruising test to check cleat rotation away from normal foot location, and had to adjust the left to allow for me as well as the right. Once that happened, I felt planted on the left side. The right I still feel needs some work, it kept telling me that something was out just a bit, you know what I mean? It felt as if it needed one less wedge, but it may very well need on more. Once again, Trial and Error. I spoke with my Esoles rep in my area, and we are working toward adding that as one of my tools. Thanks for the help, and I hopefully I can save my pennies and come down there to see you and pick your brain.


      6. G’day Bruce,
        I know it is time consuming but you’re on the right track.
        In the absence of the method I use T&E is the only way to nail it and what I have to do for my own foot correction. Assuming that your cycling specific insoles aren’t quite doing the job, the increase in arch support that Esoles will allow will probably mean that you have to revisit wedging numbers on each side again. Increased arch support usually translates to less wedges.

        If your current arch support feels not intrusive or comfortable when standing in your cycling shoes, then Level 2 arch support with Esoles will likely mean you can reduce wedge numbers by one or possibly 2 wedges on each side.

  53. Hi,
    I have had a bike fit done and it was found that i need 2 wedges on my left foot and 1 wedge on my right foot. I made this change on my road bike and am very happy with using the BFS 3 hole cleat wedges with my time RXS pedals.
    For my mtb, I am experimenting with the BFS cleat wedges for my 2 hole time atac cleats. I have tried them and it seems to make the platform very unstable with just 1 wedge and even more so with 2 wedges. I feel that my foot rotates towards and away from the crank arm about the cleat very easily. This is because the cleat is protruding further away from the sole and the side treads are not contacting the platform of the time atac pedal. See the pictures below:

    I am thinking about trying the look quartz to see if they work better. What have you done to solve this problem for 2 hole mtb cleats? Is there a preferential pedal system that you use? I have tried in the shoe wedges and they take up too much space for my preference. I want to get a pedal system that provides more stability like my time rxs road pedals provide and can be wedged successfully.
    thanks again,

  54. Steve, I have an interesting situation involving a bilateral tibial torsion. Not a varus but an internal rotation of the tibia relative to the plane of the knee joint. This torsion is moreso on the left leg, enough to cause the foot to feel uneven on the pedal. What do you usually do with an internally rotated tibia like this?

    What happens is when the knee descends squarely on the pedal stroke I have more pressure on the big toe. The right foot feels even across all metatarsal heads. The left foot essentially sits in some level of eversion relative to the tibia. I already have both cleats set per your advice and the rotation already feels neutral when pedaling hard.

    I notice this most when pedaling out of the saddle the left knee wants to wander outward to even the pressure up on the met heads. My temporary solution has been to use one valgus ITS wedge in the left shoe (SPD) and this has helped even up the pressure some. Am I on the right track here? Wondering if the next step should be one of the BFS wedged cleats set up valgus on the left shoe…

    Everything else on the bike is setup and passes your tests for seat settings and all that. The wandering knee presents as a minor irritation to the left biceps femoris tendon. Any help much appreciated!

    1. G’day Jkarrasch,
      What do I do?
      I act on the results of my testing protocol that determines degree and relative mix of foot correction and take care with lateral adjustment of the cleat. In almost all cases, that is all that is necessary.

      As a general rule (with plenty of exceptions like all ‘rules’), wedge towards the pressure. In your case it is the first MTP that is being loaded and wedging with thick side to outside tends to even the pressure so almost certainly you are on the right track. You can use a cleat wedge, but before settling on wedge location, try a heel wedge also. In cases like these, the majority of the time a cleat wedge is necessary but a significant minority of the time, a heel wedge works better.

      I take it you have good arch support?

      The other thing worth checking is whether the wandering left knee is a product of a pelvis twisted forward on the right side, even when off the seat. It is worth having that checked out.

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