I'm having some pain issues (won't get specific, I know not to let the Internet diagnose me) in one foot but not the other. What kinds of motions on a bike stress one foot more than the other?

So far I've thought of

  • the Sheldon Brown technique for mounting a bike (one foot stomps the pedal, the other pushes off from the ground)
  • coasting, where I have a habit of always leaving the same foot at full extension (and carrying more weight)

Anything else I've missed? I'm consciously changing my coasting posture, and trying to train myself to Sheldon-Brown-mount with opposite feet. If there's anything else I could be doing, it would be good to know.

  • Do you use clipless pedals?
    – mikes
    Apr 24, 2015 at 0:17
  • Nope. MKS Lambdas with street shoes (usually Keen sandals).
    – D.Salo
    Apr 24, 2015 at 0:44
  • 2
    Keep in mind that your body is not symmetrical. Not only is it likely that one leg is shorter/twisted more than the other, but also it's likely that one leg is stronger. Apr 24, 2015 at 1:32
  • 1
    If they are anything like the Keen sandals I have extremely flexible soles, which isn't ideal for riding. Try something with harder soles. That being said, I do use my Keens for short rides in the summer, especially when it's raining as they dry off so quickly.
    – Kibbee
    Apr 24, 2015 at 16:11
  • As Daniel R Hicks mentioned most of us are not symmetrical including legs of different length up to 1.5cm or more than half an inch. The position of the foot on the pedal is important. Pedal clips or automatic pedals, if correctly adjusted, may help to balance the pedal force. A professional bikefitter will diagnose the source of the problem but this comes at a price!
    – Carel
    Apr 24, 2015 at 19:54

2 Answers 2


Perfect pedaling is actually on the rare side and generally takes a lot of work to develop. That being said many people pedal in an unbalanced way (I tend to have a much stronger downstroke on my right and upstroke on my left). I use clipless however, so my feet are always in the proper position (for me). If your foot position varies or isn't correct (for you) you may experience uneven pain. It's also possible you have an unbalanced stroke. Either of these could contribute to single sided pain.


I think I may have worked out what was doing it. I don't "ankle" (see Sheldon Brown) while pedaling, but while coasting I unconsciously point my toes downward on the extended leg, which seems to have led to the same symptoms.

I'm making myself flex my foot at the ankle while coasting instead, and so far so good. Gearing down and pedaling faster has made some difference also.

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