Effects of cycling shoe cleat position in performance and physiological variables during cycling and subsequent running in simulated Olympic distance triathlon

Authors

  • Geoffrey Millour PSMS Laboratory (EA 7507)
  • Loic Janson French Triathlon Federation, Reims, France
  • William Bertucci PSMS Laboratory (EA 7507)

Abstract

Keywords: 1st metatarsal head, Antero-posterior cycling cleat position, Pacing

Background: A proper intervention at the foot-shoe-pedal interface in cycling could optimize lower limb kinematics, improving health and performance (Belluye and Cid 2001). It has been established that the 1st metatarsal head must be positioned directly above the pedal spindle (Belluye and Cid 2001). But the triathlon, which combines swimming, cycling and running, has specific characteristics in terms of biomechanical and physiological responses and a backward cleat position could be more appropriate on subsequent running in a triathlon at constant load (Paton and Jardine 2012). However, the legal drafting in Olympic distance triathlon leads to a great variability in crank power output production (PO) (Bernard et al. 2009). Another study which has simulated draft-legal triathlon did not observe any benefits with an aft cleat position, whether for cardiovascular cycling or running performance. However, the authors have reported a change of running pacing and particularly a faster running speed during the 1st kilometer with the traditional 1st metatarsal cleat placement (Viker and Richardson 2013). The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of the antero-posterior shoe cleat position in performance and physiological parameters during the cycling and running phases of a simulated Olympic distance triathlon.

Methods: Eight well-trained triathletes (6 males and 2 females) volunteered for this experiment (Mean ± SD:  22 ± 11 years old, 1.73 ± 0.09 m, 60.8 ± 7.7 kg). The participants performed three experimental tests within two weeks. Firstly, they completed an incremental cycling test until exhaustion to determine the maximal aerobic crank power output production (MAP) and the maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). Then, they did a cycle-run protocol simulating the intensity of a draft-legal triathlon with two cleat positions in a random order (Table 1). The forward cleat position (FCP) positioned the center of the cleat 5 mm in front of the 1st metatarsal and the backward cleat position (BCP) placed the center of the cleat 5 mm behind the 1st metatarsal. The cycling tests were performed on a Wattbike® cycle ergometer (Wattbike Pro, Nottingham, UK) allowing to control the break resistance and the running tests were made on a standard treadmill® (Tunturi T90, Tunturi New Fitness BV, Almere, Netherlands). The VO2 was collected during cycling and running with an Oxycon-Pro® system (Oxycon-Pro, Erich Jaeger, Germany) and the energy cost (C) was calculated for the running tests (Di Prampero 1986). The cycling PO was measured with the Wattbike® and the running distance with the treadmill. Pairwise Wilcoxon tests were used to establish statistical differences between means. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.

Table 1: Cycle-run protocol


Cycling

Transition

Running

FCP

32 minutes divided into 8 sections of 4 minutes

1 minute

Maximum distance over 20 minutes

3’30 at 50-75% of MAP and 80 rpm

30” at 100-200% of MAP with free pedalling cadence

BCP

32 minutes divided into 8 sections of 4 minutes

1 minute

Maximum distance over 20 minutes

3’30 at 50-75% of MAP and 80 rpm

30” at 100-200% of MAP with free pedalling cadence

Results:

Table 2: Mean of performance and physiological parameters during cycling and subsequent running according to the cycling cleat position


Cycling

Running


Total

1st section of 5’

Total


FCP

BCP

p

FCP

BCP

p

FCP

BCP

P

% of MAP

70.4 ± 8.6

66.8 ± 5.9

> 0.05



 


 

 

Distance (meters)



 

1190 ± 150

1150 ± 100

> 0.05

4960 ± 540

4910 ± 480

> 0.05

% of VO2max

65 ± 3.9

59.7 ± 6.7

< 0.05

68.8 ± 11.0

60.9 ± 10.9

> 0.05

75.6 ± 8.8

65.2 ± 15.6

> 0.05

C (mlO2.km-¹.kg-¹)



 



 

147.5 ± 22.8

127 ± 34.7

< 0.05

Table 2 shows a significant decrease of oxygen consumption with the BCP during the cycling part of the test. However, we can notice a slight decrease of PO with the BCP but no significant. During the subsequent running, the performance was better while the FCP condition, and particularly during the 1st section (40 m) but no-significant. This improvement was coupled with a no-significant increase of VO2, which could explain the gain of performance. However, the C was significantly higher during the FCP condition compared to the BCP condition.

Discussion: For cycling, our results suggest that the BCP is more economical despite a no significant decrease of performance. It has been reported that a forward 1st metatarsal cleat position could lead to overuse injuries (Belluye and Cid 2001). Thereby, a 1st metatarsal or a slightly aft cleat placement could be more suitable for performance and injury prevention in cycling. Despite a performance improvement with the FCP during the subsequent running, the BCP was significantly more economical, which could be caused by a muscular economy (Paton and Jardine 2012). Moreover, the pacing was different with a faster 1st running section with the FCP, which is in agreement with previous study (Viker and Richardson 2013). In conclusion, our results suggest that a 1st metatarsal or a slightly further backward cleat placement would be more appropriate for cycling and subsequent running economy in Olympic distance triathlon despite a better performance (but no significant) with the FCP.

Acknowledgements: Morphologics Company.

References:

Belluye N, Cid M. (2001) [Biomechanical approach to modern cycling, data from the literature] Approche biomécanique du cyclisme moderne, données de la littérature. Science & sports 16(2):71-87.

Bernard T, Hausswirth C, Le Meur Y, Bignet F, Dorel S, Brisswalter J (2009) Distribution of power output during the cycling stage of a triathlon world cup. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 41(6):1296-1302.

Di Prampero PE (1986) The energy cost of human locomotion on land and in water. International Journal of Sports Medecine 7(2):55.

Paton CD, Jardine T. 2012 The effects of cycling cleat position on subsequent running performance in a simulated duathlon. Journal of Science and Cycling 1(1):15.

Viker T, Richardson MX. (2013) Shoe cleat position during cycling and its effect on subsequent running performance in triathletes. Journal of sports sciences 31(9):1007-1014.

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Published

2018-12-04

How to Cite

Millour, G., Janson, L., & Bertucci, W. (2018). Effects of cycling shoe cleat position in performance and physiological variables during cycling and subsequent running in simulated Olympic distance triathlon. Journal of Science and Cycling, 7(2). Retrieved from https://jsc-journal.com/index.php/JSC/article/view/393