Why You Should Be Training Your Feet
August 17, 2022
Did you know there are 20 muscles in your 1 foot alone? These are what give our foot its shape, support and ability to move. But why do we not train these muscles like other muscles?
There have been studies on the ability to stand on one foot for 10 seconds and how that can be linked to your overall health. As we age our natural ability to absorb force and keep strong stable structures starts to diminish. Training our bodies to absorb force is a necessary skill, focusing on building ankle stability and connection to your feet.
Why Do Your 40 Foot Muscles Need Training?
Everything we do starts with our feet; we stand, we walk and run with our feet. But we live in a world where shoes are not always made for function, more so for fashion. The outcome of this more often then not, ends up putting your foot into a metaphorical straight jacket. Desensitizing your feet/toes to normal demands and needs (stability and control). I wrote a blog on this topic alone linked here .
In training your connection to the floor will vary in demand both statically and dynamically. There are 3 points on our feet (big toe, pinky toe and heel) that we want to be working into the floor, which connects us to our pelvis and give us control up our kinetic chain.
Every great tower is built on a solid foundation; so it only makes sense for the foundation to be strong, stable, and able to create the demand asked (ex. move with power and speed). Yes some of these demands may seem like only something an athlete needs, but that couldn't be farther from the truth.
For example, you step off a curb wrong and have to catch yourself. Your body must intrinsically and reactively absorb your weight and stabilize on a new surface. No time to think about what is going on or how to best set up to land, just your foot and ankle complex to rely on.
Compare this to a basketball player. They go up for a jump ball, and as they fall back down to the ground they must be able to absorb the exact same force they just generated vertically. They have no time to look down at their feet, as they are focused on the ball and then where they need to move next. Both of these situations ask a lot of the foot and ankle complex without conscious consideration.
Now think about generating force and speed, like in sprinting. The goal of force production is to create as much power as possible while limiting your ground reaction time as little as possible to get up in the air. This chain reaction moves upwards, starting with your toes, feet, ankles. In efficient running, your goal isn't to absorb shock forever and let your body melt into the ground, but instead to convert the shock absorbed quickly into energy that propels you forward.
Your Feet and Strength Training
Why then do I stress using your feet for strength training or my favorite, the kettlebell? Each pattern we train requires control. We don't want to have instability while creating max tension. Whether it's at the top of a kettlebell swing or through a turkish getup, you are building the same type max tension and control, but one is changing planes of motion sequentially and the other is power based and static.
The idea that I reminding myself with training is that your training should directly imitate the demand your life or sport needs. One of my favorite quotes by current Head Coach of the USA woman's national volleyball team, Karch Kiraly says "treat every practice as if its a game and treat every game like it is just another practice". So we practice and train like it's game time, for the sport of life!
Bottom line, connecting to the floor is a basic need in my eyes, it is something we rely on daily with no thought at all. It's like breathing; if we can breathe more efficiently to make you more efficient in your life, training or your sport in general. Training our feet to be used 24/7 365 days a year should be viewed in the same light and with the same importance.
Listen to Your Feet & Change Your Training for the Better
There are so many different entry points. The key is to find one to fit you and your needs. Some examples are heel elevated variations, plyometrics, static holds or a single leg balance. Even just performing a split squat in your socks gives us exactly what we need. All of the above and so many more can be used for strength, power, and speed all with the emphasis on the ankle and the the feet.
Like I said before, everything starts with your roots. You may be surprised at what training from the ground up can do for your body!
Try it for yourself!!
Interested in learning more or taking your training to the next level, book a session below! Kingdoms weren't built over night, it's time to treat your body like the palace it is.