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Be About It

CPC's Blog About Health and Wellness

The Balanced Athlete Through Your Feet

Tuesday, 6 / 20 / 17

For those of you who do not know, I went to Colorado Springs last weekend for a Hockey Strength and Conditioning Clinic put on by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The two-day clinic was extremely insightful as we were being educated by the best hockey strength coaches in the country. Even though this was a hockey specific clinic, I still learned a great deal of information to not only bring back for my athletes but for my clients and all of you!

There was one specific presentation that stood out the most to me. It was about a revolutionary injury prevention practice, presented by Johnny Gillespie from Balanced Athlete. This injury prevention practice was focused primarily on the lower extremities and can applied to any individual, especially those who have weak foot arches, plantar fasciitis (even extreme cases) or have knee/hip pain.

What Johnny really emphasized is that everything starts from the feet and travels up the kinetic chain, starting with the big toe. The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, and hundreds of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. There are three arches in the feet that are located on the inside, outside, and across the bottom of the foot. From there, you can really look at the human foot as a spring. When the foot hits the ground, the 33 joints expand and then they snap back up. Those arches wind up pulling force through the foot, into the leg, then the pelvic through and into the spine.

Now, with movements, the developmental stage is important and it starts when you are a baby. The movement patterns usually go in this order: you start on your back, you work your way onto your belly. Eventually you’re sitting cross legged, swaying, sitting with upright posture. Then you make your way to your knees, start to crawl, find furniture to pull yourself up, squat, sway finding balance and fall. Through time, this creates the perfect runner. As you were developing and growing, these movement patterns can sometimes get thrown off and put you into a position where you can get injured.

From knowing about the feet and the developmental stage, the primary cause of injuries include lack of spinal stability, unaddressed asymmetries, and nervous system disconnections. Reconnecting back to these fundamental movements will make you a more integrated, stronger, and flexible individual and athlete. After explaining this, we were taught on how to strengthen the foot, which I am going to give to you for you to add to your tool box!

  • First, stand and lift all 10 toes off the ground. Make sure your knees do don’t bow out. Feel the muscles in the foot and in the shin start to fire. You will feel your body sway back into a more upright posture. Hold it there for 30 seconds.

  • Second, put your toes back onto the floor. Lift your heels off the floor, stand on your toes, and ground your big toe into the floor. Again, hold this position.
  • Slowly drop back down onto your heels and then lift your toes off the floor again. even higher. Make sure to squeeze your legs and engage your muscles (even your pelvic floor). Hold briefly.
  • Now, repeat those two in a controlled manner, shifting up onto your toes and back onto your heels several times.
  • After that, stand on your toes again and begin to HOP onto your toes without touching your heels to the floor, for about 30 seconds.
  • Then, this time, you are allowed to kiss your heels to the floor. Repeat again for several times.

Rest for a moment.

  • Plant all four corners of your feet into the ground and perform a downhill skier pose. Sit in this position, which will really engage your muscles, including your core.
  • The next exercise is a stationary lunge. Get into a lunge position. Plant that front foot into the floor on all four corners, with your back foot on your toes. Make sure your chest is upright and just drop that back leg straight down to the floor and back up. Several reps on each side.
  • The next exercise is hip hinging. Plant your feet solid into the floor and shoot your hips to the wall behind you. Feel that weight shifting and keep yourself balanced and grounded.
  • From there, you can work your way into a single leg hip hinge. Again, really focus on squeezing your toes into the floor and keeping your hips squared and core tight and engaged.

I personally have awful, awful feet. Johnny told me that I do not have flat feet but I have weak arches, which would explain the chronic knee pain that I have had. For years, my knee-tracking has been off and all I have been told to do was roll and stretch my hamstrings. When, honestly, the pain all stems from my weak arches. I’ve been trying these exercises, on top of rolling my feet on a PVC pipe, and it already made a difference.

We give our feet a beating every single day! Do them a favor and give it a try! Let me know how you like it or come find me if you have any questions!

TAGS: Feet, Foot Health, Runners, Athletes, Injury Prevention
Madison Schiltz