As runners and obstacle course racers, strength training is highly important. When you do strength training, you do things to strengthen the areas that are known weaknesses or you simply work to gain more overall strength. Whichever direction you choose to go is great!
As a runner, you often do the necessary strength work in the legs and core and sometimes add in the arms. As an obstacle course racer, you do strength work for the legs and core and also add in the shoulders, arms, and grip strength.
But something continues to be neglected on a regular basis – Your Feet!
Your foot does so much more than just providing a base for you to stand on. It actually has a job! When your foot is functioning as it is meant to function, it adapts to the ground, it provides shock absorption, it propels your body forward, it pronates, it gives control and stability to your leg…and much more.
Many times, the solution provided by podiatrists and shoe stores for weak feet is to make them weaker by placing orthotics in your shoes and/or selling you stability shoes. When your foot muscles are not required to work, they won’t work. Simple as that. By putting something in the shoe that controls your foot for you, your muscles shut off. Ultimately, the more you use support in your shoes, the weaker your feet get. It is a downhill spiral!
Besides the weakness aspect, our feet absorb forces by allowing the foot to pronate. (Yes, there is a difference between pronation and overpronation. Pronation is normal and necessary, overpronation is due to weakness.) When you restrict pronation by blocking it with an orthotic or stability shoe, your body cannot absorb the forces placed upon it when you step, which translates the forces up into the tissues of your leg. This eventually results in your chronic stress or ‘overuse’ injuries.
Have an issue with your knees collapsing in when you squat or jump no matter how much you attempt to strengthen your hips? My guess is your feet are collapsing. If you do not know how to control your feet, no amount of hip strength will keep the knees and legs in a good position.
When it comes to foot strengthening, it is so much more than doing banded ankle exercises, mindlessly doing heel raises, and doing balance or single leg exercises, especially if you are in shoes for those. You need to learn how to control the toes and the foot. You need to learn how to control pronation and supination. You need to learn how to maintain a strong, stable foot with your single leg and balance activities.
Once you gain strength and control in your foot, you will be amazed at how much stronger your body is, how much more weight you can lift, and most importantly, how many of your chronic injuries go away.
Not sure what to do for your feet? Start here and see how you do:
Once you go through those, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me how they went. I would love to hear.
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