Are my sore ankles being caused by incorrect bike fit with long femurs?

Hi Guys,

I’m after some help please with issues I’ve been having recently with sore ankles. It’s been that bad that my training has been next to non-existent with most workouts being abandoned. I’ll try give all the important details below.

In December, I had my first bike fit in two years and I also switched from mountain bike pedals and shoes on my road bike, to some fancy Gaerne carbon road shoes with custom carbon insoles. This was my first time in 7 years of cycling that I used road shoes. Up until this point, I had used the same Specialized mountain bike shoes with custom carbon insoles with no issues in my ankles.

As part of the bike fit, my saddle was brought forward perhaps a good four inches or so as it was really far back.

I quickly developed problems with both ankles being incredibly sore when peddling, something that I think is referred to as an ‘ankle impingement’. Most workouts I had to quit after 20 minutes or less.

After about 6 weeks, I swapped my road shoes & pedals out for mountain bike shoes & pedals. I did notice an initial improvement & I hoped that I would be able to get back into the training plans, however, the ankle soreness still wouldn’t go away.

Yesterday, when doing Monitor +5, I made it to the fourth interval and had to stop. I decided to see if moving my saddle back would help. I moved it back about about an inch and a half and noticed a big improvement. I did four more intervals and then on the fifth they were getting a bit sore again, so I moved the saddle back about 2 inches and noticed another big improvement.

I have very long femurs. To put it into perspective, my wife and I when sat down are the same height, despite her being 5’5 and me being 6’1. When we did some measurements, we realised the bulk of my height came from my femurs being 6 inches longer than hers & my lower legs being 2 inches longer, explaining my 8 inches of height over hers but with the same torso length.

I’m guessing that because I have long femurs, the more forward the saddle is, that it reduces the angle between the toes and the shins and can thus increase ankle impingements and that by moving back the saddle, I’ve decreased the angle and alleviated the pressure I was experiencing.

I was wondering if anyone else could offer any thoughts, recommendation etc on what my problems are, next steps I should take etc & your thoughts on my analysis of the possible problem.

Thanks to everyone in advance and sorry if the above is a bit long.

All the best,

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Im similar (2nd longest femurs my bike fitter has seen) but don’t suffer issues on the bike BUT I did develop impingement from running. Mine was caused by my high arches closing the gap at the front of the ankle joint (compounded by a torn ATFL causing ankle instability). I would say ita quite possible for what you are experiencing to occur. I would suggest seeing another fitter who had a background in physiotherapy if possible, they will be able to take into account your specific morpgology. I would definitely advise not continuing with the position that is causing the impingement as you dont want it to become chronic requiring an opwration to clean it out.

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Thank you for the response. I think you’re right, I should be more cautious and not pedal through it. I’m planning on doing a ride tomorrow so I’m hoping that I don’t feel anything. I also have high foot arches, hence the custom carbon insoles, so I suppose that combined with long femurs and a forward saddle could compound it.

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