Do you balance better with two points of contact, or with three? Do you feel more stable when your whole foot is used, or only part of the foot? Do you want to learn a simple cue that helps you have better balance and better response to increase performance?
Many people don't utilize their foot efficiently, and that in turn affects their entire leg and body movements. This can be from prior injury, poor footwear, or just plain bad habits. People will learn to move and walk without using the foot efficiently, and if we can change this one simple thing, then people will have a better base to support the leg and transfer power and energy throughout stance activity.
Whenever we put weight through our foot, which is anytime we are standing, we have three contact points to focus on each foot.
The first point, and the most obvious, is through the heel. When we put weight through our heel, it transfers weight into the bones of our lower leg, and even without good muscle strength, our bones will hold us up if aligned properly. Our heel takes a heavy burden of the weight, but our heel is designed to do so. We have a pad of fat under our heel that acts as a shock absorber. This pad can become painful however, so people will learn to unweight it, resulting in an inefficient reaction to the ground.
The second point, and probably the most commonly underutilized, is the base of the big toe. Putting weight through the base of the big toe, and by association through the big toe, activates the arch of our foot, and that arch transfers energy by creating a spring we can load and release. People that have had a history of heel pain or ankle sprains often roll onto the outside of the foot, and that limits the weight acceptance along the base of the big toe. Without loading the big toe correctly, we loose the elastic energy the foot is designed to conserve and use to make our ground reaction springy and effective.
The third point is the base of the pinkie toe. This area can be underutilized due to poor footwear that squeezes our forefoot tight. This area can also be improperly used due to a prior history of stubbing a toe or dropping something on our foot.
The base of our toes and into our toes should be the widest part of our foot. Most shoe manufacturers have our toes squished into the shoe for no other reason than the shoe looks better. If you look at a child's foot, you will see how it continues to get wider toward to toes. The reason our foot shape changes, is that we wear improperly designed shoes throughout much of our lives.
Having our foot improperly positioned affects our ability to accept and transfer weight, which affects our ability to generate strength and power through the leg. Many knee, hip, back, and even neck and shoulder problems result from improper loading of our foot during stance activity.
It's beneficial to progressively increase our amount of training barefoot. This gives us three major benefits.
One is that we have more sensation through our foot, and we can focus on the contact points of the heel, the base of the big toe, and the base of the pinkie toe. If we bring attention to these three spots and work to evenly distribute pressure, many of our other ailments up the leg and into the back resolve on their own.
Two is that our foot can now spread out into the shape it was designed to be in. Remember that our foot shape has been altered during our lifetime due to poor shoe design. Shoes were originally designed to protect our feet from damaging objects like rocks, sticks, hot surfaces, cold surfaces, etc. Over time, shoes became a fashion accessory, and they were designed to look good. This transition has affected our foot health, which can be correlated to the rise of injury in general, including back pain and sedentary lifestyles.
Three is that by not wearing rigid shoes that affect our foot mobility, the intrinsic muscles of our feet have to work and become stronger. Like any muscle, it's use it or lose it. If we don't use the muscles in our feet, they have no reason to stay strong. When they aren't strong, we can't transfer energy through our legs as efficiently, resulting in decreased athletic performance and progressive deterioration or compensation of our entire muscular system resulting in aches, pains, and injuries.
Training your foot takes time like any new exercise. It's not recommended to go all in on no shoes suddenly. That would be too much of a shock to your system. It is recommended that you start training your foot though, and treating it like any other joint you would train.
Start focusing on the three contact points of your foot. The heel, the base of the big toe, and the base of the pinkie toe. Think about these three points when standing, walking, stair climbing or squatting. You will find that during some movements, you lose pressure at one of these points. This is where your foot stability is failing, and that is causing other problems throughout your system. #snowbeastperformance