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Foot function and possible mechanisms for the etiology of frequently observed forefoot complaints in bicycling were studied. Pedal forces and in-shoe pressure distributions were measured with 29 subjects, who rode on a stationary bicycle with a cadence of 80 rpm at 100, 200, 300, and 400 W. The influence of footwear on foot loading was also investigated by comparing running and bicycling shoes at 400 W. The first metatarsal head and the hallux were identified as the major force-contributing structures of the foot. High pressures under the toes, midfoot, and under the heel showed that all foot areas contribute substantially to the generation of pedal forces. For increasing power outputs, higher peak pressures and relative loads under the medial forefoot were identified. These may cause pressure-related forefoot complaints and accompany increased foot pronation. As compared to the running shoe, the stiff bicycling shoe demonstrated a more evenly distributed load across the whole foot and showed a significantly increased index of effectiveness.
Ewald M. Hennig is with Biomechanik Labor, Universität Essen, 45117 Essen, Germany. David J. Sanderson is with UBC Biomechanics Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1.