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Cobra9 Pro Case Study – Forefoot Pain

An example of some of the unique Cobra9 Pro devices we hand fabricate here at Cobra9 and the pathologies that warrant them.

A regular high kilometre cyclist ‘Woodie‘ recently sought the assistance of Cobra9 to reduce significant pain in his left forefoot during but largely after cycling.  Woodie has been riding big miles of recent and the problem has been intensifying.

A few months ago, Woodie traded in his old road shoes for some Bont Vaypors for improved stiffness and performance.  The difference was enormous.  No surprises here as Bont makes terrific shoes with ridiculous sole strength and nice closure technology.  Unfortunately the level of firmness was playing havoc with his forefoot comfort which was also present in his previous road shoes.  The basis for his discomfort had nothing to do with the Bont Vaypor construction but with Woodie’s underlying unusual biomechanics.

Woodie’s left leg and foot were proving to be the issue.  His lower leg was curved excessively in the lower 1/3 giving the appearance of someone who has been riding horses rather than bikes for the last 10 years.  The foot as a consequence sits ‘off camber’ to the standard sole platform.  Due to the long-term nature of this condition, Woodie’s 3rd and 4th metatarsal heads had become increasingly prone to high levels of  pressure.  The skin and fat beneath this region had become thin and dystrophic. The 5th metatarsal head being able to move independently had drifted up and allowed itself a position free from pressure (The fifth metatarsal is not bound by the same structural ligaments and is able to freely drift up or down).

Cobra9 Pro 2
Pressure aperture evident beneath the EVA foam outer

Cleat wedging to balance the angle of the lower leg was partially successful but the prominence under the ball of the foot was still very painful.  As a consequence we faced a tricky scenario with the necessary profile to allow Woodie to maintain the use of his high performance Bonts, and offset the pain related to his unusual condition.

The solution required some very specific modification and adaptation of the Cobra9 Pro.  The underlying shell profile remained crucial as this allowed for increased surface area for fairly basic pressure reduction.  Basic physics – Pressure = Force x Area of Application.  The profiling of the shell proved to be the easiest task.  At Cobra9, contouring carbon shells to unusual arch profiles is a daily fixture.

Cobra9 Pro
Memory foam – Thick but displays quick effective compression

Next came specific localised pressure deflection and proximal loading.  There is no point loading somewhere else if this region then becomes painful due to a lack of tolerance.  In Woodies example, we placed a small raised flange/dome proximally (behind) the effected forefoot region to gently elevate these structures.  Not too much and not too firm otherwise tolerance and space occupation becomes a huge issue.  Next a direct load aperture was ground underneath where the 3rd and 4th metatarsal heads sit on the orthotic.  The material of choice for this deflection is slow memory foam.  It has excellent compressive properties yet rebounds every time.  Because it rapidly compresses, it also minimises the potential spongy sensations provided by other more dense materials.  Despite this, the aperture still provides nice direct pressure deflection.

The result is great comfort without sacrificing the performance of a shoe like the Bont Vaypor.  In subsequent rides since using his Cobra9 Pros, Woodie is back to his pedal crushing ways without lingering post ride pain.

Not all Cobra9 Pros are as complex as this, but this case study typifies the benefits afforded by the hand crafted product that is the Cobra9 Pro.  Need help with your cycling shoes?  We ready for the challenge!

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