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bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Posted by Bob D. on 12/05/03 at 08:29 (139391)

I have tried several things to relieve my fasciitis,including Powerstep inserts (excellent), stretching and ice. I recently noticed that adding bicycling for about 30-40 minutes followed by ice on the heel seems to be greatly reducing the pain. I have not seen this in any treatment regimens. Anyone have any experience in this area?

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

R C on 12/05/03 at 10:02 (139399)

That is my experience as well. In fact, any kind of vigorous, non-weight-bearing exercise seems to help (swimming is my thing). It may be due to the increased circulation to the affected tissues.

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Shawn P on 12/05/03 at 13:01 (139408)

My 2 cents.... No more that 30 minutes on a bike in a club. More than that affects the achilles. My success has been attributed to having a good bike fit on both my road and mountain bikes. And bike a lot. Cycling enhances your flexibilty thoughout the whole calf/achilles/footcomplex. Plus, you are throwing blood into your foot with every revolution.

There have been posts here to avoid cycling. I disagree, as long you get get out of the club (recumbants are the worst) and on a good bike that really fits. Start slowly... one mile, then two miles, then three and so forth. I am again able to really do the long distances. Oh... and have good othodics in your bike shoes. Don't skimp on the cost and quality of the shoes.

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Pauline on 12/05/03 at 14:01 (139415)

Could you expand on what you mean by having a bike with a 'good fit'.
How do you get a good fit? Are the knees supposed to be totally extended?

More explaination would be greatly appreciated.

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

francesc on 12/05/03 at 15:38 (139428)


i only cycle in the gym in Spinning classes which have stationary bikes that try to emulate the feel of a road bike. i just wear my regular running shoes with my orthotics in them but, the cycling seems to help stretch my calves and foot (PF area) because the instructor always stresses taht we should be diving our heels down to get more of a hamstring/buttock workout as opposed to a quad workout. so i find it stretching me and also giving me a good workout.

plus, it makes me feel like i have an option since i can't run anymore!

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Dorothy on 12/06/03 at 00:35 (139460)

What do you mean when you say 'diving our heels down'?

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Julie on 12/06/03 at 02:53 (139462)


I think Frances means pedalling with the heels lower than the balls of the feet (rather than the 'proper' toe-first position). This is what stretches the calf muscles and - to a degree - the hamstrings. I always liked cycling this way because of that stretch. I suspect it might be too strong for many PF-sufferers, though.

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Dorothy on 12/08/03 at 00:45 (139566)

Thank you, Julie.

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

francesc on 12/08/03 at 12:03 (139580)

oops, it was a typo. yes, i meant 'driving our heels down.'

so when you pedal, you push more with your hamstrings and with heel down lower than the toe. it does give you a stretch and it feels good afterwards for me.


Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

AndrueC on 12/08/03 at 15:15 (139599)

Several people (including me) think that cycling contributed to or caused their PF. The problem comes about if you use correct technique and push with your toes.

The Heel Pain book warns that pushing a car, mowing a lawn and crouching can all trigger PF. Many people here argue against the classic 'foot hanging off a stair' stretch. These are all positions where force is being transmitted from the toes to the ankle. Sound familiar?

Cycling shoes (I have a pair) have a solid sole, like clogs. This is to help transfer the force without straining your foot.

Gentle cycling /preferably in proper cycling shoes/ is likely to be very good for you. Hard cycling or using shoes that do nothing to help transmit the forces from toe to ankle may not be so good.

One other aspect of cycling that I think I encountered is that it tends to tighten the calf muscles. This is also a bad thing.

I'm not trying to say cycling is bad for PF - just that you should be careful.

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Nigel on 12/08/03 at 15:45 (139603)

Very interesting reading about cycling. I have just taking up running again after a year of mountain biking and have developed PF. I wonder if that contributed to my PF due to a shortening of the calves??
I was wondering what stretch should be used in place of the classic 'foot hanging off a stair' stretch????

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Dorothy on 12/08/03 at 15:58 (139605)

I have been doing a very gentle wall stretch lately - not too vigorous and not too abrupt - and it's good. Also see the Yoga stretches here by clicking on the word in blue (usually referred to as Julie's yoga stretches here as the very helpful poster, Julie, shared them with others here). There is a stretch which Dr. Z and others recommend (do a message board search using 'stretch' or similar term). Finally, but not least, are the Personal Foot Trainers (www.foottrainer.com) which many here, including me, use and recommend for stretching and strengthening in a non-weight-bearing fashion. Very good product.
Oh, by the way, I purchased a very inexpensive cycling device where you sit in a chair and do a limited version of cycling that is not weight-bearing. You can buy this online and the most reasonable I found was from the very good folks at footsmart (www.footsmart.com)
I am sure others will give you lots of good feedback here as well.

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

Shawn P on 12/10/03 at 07:12 (139710)

There are a great many web sites that will explain a good bike fit. One is here http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm (I am not associtated with this site). Most good bike shops will fit you on you bike, with and/or without special fitting machines. There are alos physical therapists trained in fitting bikes to people.

One other thought on this string.... there was a mention about calves shortening and getting tighter. This is not my experience. Cycling enhances flexibity.

Re: bicycle riding and plantar fasciitis

HilaryG on 12/10/03 at 08:00 (139718)

About a month ago I started cycling on a device like the one Dorothy bought from Footsmart. I've been going one mile at very low tension and for the past few days have been havine a lot of tightness in my calves. I have been stretching my calves after cycling, but that doesn't seem to be enough. So now I have decided to take a break from cyclling for a week or so, because I am afraid of a recurrence of my PF shich has been fine for awhile now, thanks to ART. Anf after a week or so I plan to go back to cycling, maybe only a quarter of a mile for a awhile. Does anyone have any other suggestions. I need to exercise for my blood pressure. I do yoga, but I need to do something aerobic. I have to admit I hate aerobic exercise and becaue of my PF, as you all know, Idon't really have too many choices anyway. Swimming is not really a practical option. ( I live in the country- nowhere near a pool). Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.Hilary