Start With Your Feet
Maybe you have seen some of the info out on barefoot training. Companies like Vibram, Merrell, and New Balance have made a push to create “minimal” shoes to give you that barefoot feel. These are a great start to this concept, but your feet need sensory input. The more you shove them in shoes, the more you need to get them out of shoes. Why?
You can look at different approaches to fitness and therapy. Some look at facial lines, some look at a joint by the joint approach, even the history of Reflexology tie the feet to the whole body. Any approach will still see the importance of the body working as a unit from top to bottom. The feet are your grounded base to the floor. The architecture of a healthy foot mimics the engineering of a perfect suspension bridge. Those “guidewires” of the feet affect muscular activation and tension all the way up the chain. Thomas Myers’ Anatomy Trains shows a direct connection from the foot to the groin, deep abdominal system, and the diaphragm in the Deep Front Line. That means that a weak or poor foot position can negatively affect core activation. Good foot position also creates improved knee tracking and lateral hip activation. So what does all this mean?
If you train, run, hike, etc, then you want a strong and stable hip and core. Poor alignment of the foot and knee will lead to dysfunction at the hip, increase the potential for injury at the knee, decrease activation of core stabilizers, and increase potential of back pain. That’s a lot of unhappy things associated with just having a collapsing foot. Don’t believe me? If you have “flat” feet, try this… stand up, squeeze your glutes, and twist your knees outward. Your arches raised up, didn’t they? Now let your feet collapse and try to squeeze your glutes. It doesn’t work nearly as well. Trust me, ignoring your feet is the biggest training mistake you are making. So what to do about it?
Let’s make it simple. Your goal is to create a foot tripod. You want even pressure between the ball of your big toe, ball or your little toe, and your heal. Try to stand with your feet forward and you tripod engaged. Wiggle your toes and see if you can maintain it. Now try it on 1 foot. Build yourself up to being able to grab the floor and stabilize the foot. Now work it into your training. Try squats, deadlifts, walking, running, anything with good foot position. Better yet, if your gym allows it, try some of those things barefoot. Spend some time on your feet and your body will benefit!
Ryan Golec, BA, ACSM, Chek P2
Director of Movement and Education at Performance EDU