As I navigate through my classes on any given day, I run in to various body aches, pains, and limitations. It is my job, at that point, to help you still achieve a great workout without aggravating the spot in question or continuing to injure it even more. As I think more and more about how I can help….I have decided to write this series of blogs to address the most common area first. You guessed it. The knee. (this is an area even I get pain from time to time)
I’d like to begin at the base. Your feet. Our feet set the foundation for every single functional movement. They provide a stable platform for the rest of our body to move. I mean come on guys, how much attention do we really pay to our feet? Even though they are the structures built to carry our entire body every day?
Whether we are squatting, lunging, running or jumping, a stable foot provides a platform for efficient and powerful movement for the rest of the body. From the outside we don’t see much, but actually, our feet are very complex. They are built out of 25 different connecting bones, which means not only are they super mobile, but also loaded with muscle. The role of the muscles in the feet should be to maintain stability while performing various types of movement. For instance, the moment we un-rack that heavy barbell from the rig, we want our hyper-mobile feet to be stable.
I am going to be using squatting as the example for this piece considering it is relatively the most used movement here at the gym. When we squat, we want the foot to ideally maintain it’s stability. The moment our hips and knees dive inward…what do our feet do? They collapse inward and the arch in the foot is lost. Likewise, if our hips and knees move too far out…the arch begin to arch too much.
We can alleviate bad patterns or habits by making sure that we place ourselves in the optimal squat position before performing a squat. Creating good habits and making sure that everything is operating properly first will ensure that the entire machine runs efficiently.
To create an optimal foot position for a squat you want to run a test. Try this one barefoot first to be sure that you can really see what the feet are doing as you move.
1.Set your feet about hip width apart.
2. Make sure that the base of your first toe, base of your last toe, and your heel are all touching the ground. (Envision a tri-pod)
3. Once you have achieved that, using proper squat mechanics, move into a simple air squat.
4. Now, you all of your bases stay fastened to the ground? Does one or two move?
5.If so, you have maintained optimal power from this squat. If not, and any of the parts have malfunctioned, you have no achieved optimal power and stability can fail.
The goal with this drill is to increase our awareness of our feet position during the squat. Every person, regardless of foot type, should be capable of performing a double leg squat barefoot while maintaining a stable foot. Any inability to do so highlights a crack in our movement foundation. Sweep this under the rug, and this crack will continue to wreak havoc on squats and the body/ability to move on to higher intensity movements.
Once you can adopt a better position with your feet, a lot of the other movement problems will begin to take care of themselves. The body naturally starts to assume better positions because it is now moving from a stable platform. In doing so, we not only improve movement quality but also decrease pain and improve our performance. This all starts with solidifying our base. With this post, I hope you have a better understanding on how the foot can help with squats, ongoing or nagging knee pain and other fundamental movements.
Now, I expect to see you all in here practicing, barefoot. But, I’ll ask you to put your shoes on eventually. 😉
Until next time FREQ’s