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Another Technological Feet

Like many athletic-minded folk, I've had my fair share of foot problems and injuries through the years. Plantar fascitis, blisters, ankle tendonitis, and the worst of all...multiple metatarsal (toe) stress fractures.

The year I experienced stress fractures in my right foot, I raced with them at the Chicago Triathlon like a bonehead, complicated the injury, and was later prevented from running the marathon at Ironman Hawaii that year (per doctor's orders).

I visited multiple physicians, physical therapists, podiatrists, and the like and all couldn't believe what the xrays were showing--a very odd location for stress fractures in the bottom of my toes (think where the toe joint connects to the foot). I insisted that this wasn't from running, but rather it really felt to me that something about my cycling was causing the problem.

I noticed that the Carnac and Shimano cycling shoes I was wearing had soles that sharply curved up at the front of the toebox, and I also noticed that Nike made shoes that are much flatter. So, I switched to the flatter Nike shoe and I had orthotics constructed to compensate for a very high arch. Since then, no problemos.

Two lessons:

1. Consider various cycling shoes - Dedicate the same amount of time (or more) to choosing a cycling shoe as a running shoe. And, be sure to go to a store or multiple stores so you can try on different brands. All manufacturers vary in width, flexibility, and shape. Walk in them and also see if you can ride in them before buying--even if it's on a stationary bike or cycling down the street.

2. Orthotics can be a godsend! In addition to having footbeds made at your neighborhood podiatrist or physical therapy office, a variety of insole companies are using the latest in technology to analyze feet and create molds. Esoles, for example, uses the latest in laser technology to scan your foot in four different ways to obtain a precise image of balance and alignment. In addition to Jane and John Doe, Esoles has also produced insoles for the likes of Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, David Zabriskie, and Levi Leipheimer. Their website needs to do a better job at explaining costs and scanning locations, but it appears that they will be at the New York City Marathon this Fall and plan to open other scanning locales in the near future. I haven't used them, so can't endorse the company, but they should be kept on your consideration list.

Bottom line: If you don't take care of your feet, you will certainly suffer from "the agony of defeet."

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