Do you know what your foot is doing while it is on the ground? Most people do not. I can honestly say I was guilty of this myself for a long time. I thought I knew what my foot was doing, but I realized recently how wrong I was!
Our foot is essentially a ‘tripod’. When it is on the ground, we should have equal weight distribution between the three points of contact (see image).
Many times, due to both subconscious and conscious reasons, it is not happening that way.
There are common trends I see in people, especially when lifting, but also in daily life:
- You hear the ‘knees out’ cue by a coach with squats and lunges and push to the outside of your feet to create the knees out position rather than activating your hips to get your knees in the right position.
- You avoid the pronation position as much as you can because it becomes ingrained in your head by many clinicians and coaches that pronation is a bad thing when in all reality pronation is a totally normal (and necessary) function of the foot.
- You are told to get off the balls of your feet and toes when lifting and to get more weight on your heels. Rather than shifting into an equal weight distribution on your foot, you overexaggerate the weight shift onto your heels, completely taking your weight off the balls of your feet.
I don’t provide any of these examples simply because it is what I see as a clinician and a coach. I say them from personal experience, as I was guilty of all those faults at one point in time.
So how do you fix this?
You train your foot and ankle complex how to work properly, first with just body weight and then loading it with weight in a variety of movements and bases of support. And actually, the real first step is by walking barefoot as much as possible.
From there, you start to do exercises to train your foot how to work like it was designed to work – how to get and maintain equal weight distribution between three points of the tripod, how to maintain equal weight distribution between the inside and outside of the foot when on the ball of your foot, and how to move between pronation and supination smoothly with functional movements. These movements are all performed barefoot of course!
Once you get good at that, then it is time start paying attention to what your foot is doing when you are loaded with squats, deadlifts, lunges, kettlebell swings, etc. If you have the ability to do these barefoot as well, I highly suggest that. Shoes tend to shut the foot down, not allowing it to function as it is meant to. The more you train without shoes on (or with minimalist/barefoot shoes such as Xero Shoes) the better off you will be in the long run.
The foot is the foundation of your body. The more control you can train your foot and ankle complex to have, the better control you have of the rest of your body, the less pain you experience in your foot, lower leg, knee, IT band, hip, back, and even shoulder and neck.
Think about the injuries you have experienced in your foot, ankle, knee, hips, or back. Have you ever addressed the foot control and placement during your rehab for them? If not, you may want to consider it. Have more questions on how to do that? Let’s chat! Schedule a FREE consultation call with me to figure out what you need to do for your feet.