Foot & Ankle Stability
Let’s Talk About Feet…
Today, I want to talk about feet!
Our feet serve a few really important purposes.
The foot and ankle function as support for the rest of the body, provide balance, and absorb ground reaction forces, transferring them up through the skeleton.
For this reason it is crucial that we achieve good alignment starting at our feet. This can help us with joint pain and improve technique and function.
A big part of how our feet function is determined by what we put on them.
We have a lot of options for footwear. Here at Vagus, we have a few recommendations for footwear both inside and outside of the gym to help reduce joint pain and increase mobility and functionality.
Look for footwear that is flexible, allows for toe spread (not too narrow), thin soled, and a flat bottom so you can feel the floor. Shoes like this are built to mimic how being barefoot feels.
Almost all of our clients learn to lift without shoes on, so they can get the benefits of sensory feedback and learn how to support their ankles using their muscles rather than relying a shoe do it for them! There are a lot of options for training shoes out there if you know what you are looking for. For strength training, a shoe like this is what we recommend…
Let’s take a look at what happens when feet are in abnormal postures.
Many of us over-pronate our feet (inversion of the foot, ankles rolling inwards).
Heel goes out, top of the ankle goes in, lower leg bones rotate in, knees knock inwards, femurs rotate in (disengaging our glutes), and anteriorly tilting our pelvis.
This makes it really difficult to engage our core. Check out the video above for a visual of what this looks like.
Some of us on the other hand, will experience the opposite, over-supinating our feet.
Our heel goes in, the top of our ankle goes out, our lower leg bones rotate out, varus at knee (bow legged), our femur rotates outwards, over activating the outside quad muscle, and under activating the vastus medialis (part of our quad), giving us an extreme posterior pelvic tilt preventing us from standing up straight.
You can see how this kinetic chain carries all the way upwards, affecting posture through the whole body.
What we want to do is create a supported and neutral stance to help us activate muscles evenly and properly throughout the whole body.
A simple way to do this, is to grip the floor with your feet, maintaining three points of contact on a working leg at all times. These points are the base of the little toe, base of the big toe, and the heel. Maintain the arch through any movement by keeping the arch active.
Watch the above video, and you can see the difference between when I use this technique and when I don’t. You can see my balance is better, my movement is smoother and I have better alignment.
Give barefoot training a try - bare feet are free!
In our next episode we are going to take this to the next level and get into exercises that can be used to strengthen the feet.
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Written by Saveah Reinhardt. Saveah is a strength coach at Vagus Fitness, specializing in corrective exercise for healthy bones and joints. Saveah is a kinesiologist, and plans on attending school to become a physiotherapist. She loves working with clients who are new to strength training, or are looking to use strength training as a tool to live a stronger, more mobile and energetic life! Contact Saveah at email@example.com.