One of the most common misconceptions about foot position on the bike is the need to be on the ball of your foot so you can use your legs properly to absorb impacts and land jumps. The usual train of thought goes that since you first contact the ground with the ball of the foot during a vertical jump this means you need to be on the for your ankles to help absorb the impact.
However, as usual there is more to the story than tired analogies that don’t apply to our sport. As I’ve pointed out before, since you aren’t actually coming off and back onto your pedals your feet and ankles work differently than when running or jumping (which is why you don’t do KB Swings perched on your toes).
Besides this, though, during my workout the other day I realized that your foot also works two different ways when landing from a jump depending on which way your energy is being projected, which seems to fly in the face of the “you always land on your toes when jumping” crowd.
More than this, though, it highlights the real reason you land on one end of your foot when jumping, which is to get your foot to a flat, balanced position so your hips and legs can then absorb the impact.
I know that this may be difficult to visualize so I shot this video that should clear it up a bit…
The point of this is that we really need to take a step back and question some of the prevailing logic about the need to be on the ball of the foot. The mid-foot position is a much stronger, stable position for the foot to work from and this translates into stronger, more stable movement with the rest of your body.
And just in case you don’t believe me, ask yourself why Sam Hill uses a mid-foot position on his pedals…and has won World Cup DH Races and Enduro World Series stages with the “wrong” foot position.
Until next time…