What do you think about when you hear the word exercise?
Most people usually think about completing some form of cardio like running, biking, or stair master and lifting weights to build muscle.
What we fail to forget is a crucial part of the human anatomy that allows us to do these strength training and cardio focused exercises. This body part is not only crucial in exercise but also in our activities of daily living (ADL). What body part is this do you ask?
Our feet provide a base of support that allows humans to stand up straight (hooray evolution!). They are specifically designed to bear our weight in full and allow locomotion. Our feet and ankle are made up of at least 26 bones, 33 ligaments, and more than a hundred muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Pretty complex stuff.
While browsing WebMD, I counted at least 20 different feet conditions ranging from plantar fasciitis to bunions. For such a complex structure at the foundation of our body’s movement, it is incredible how many people have foot pain and problems. Foot dysfunction then leads to dysfunction up the body’s chain of movement to our shin, knees, and hips. How many runners do you know with shin splints, ITBS, or hip pain? These imbalances stem from problems with the foot.
So what is the problem?
Experts and fanatics of barefoot running believe that our shoes are the problem. This may or may not be true. You have seen me wearing my recent purchase: Vibram 5-fingers. While I have yet to run in them, I am very happy with the increased lower-body muscle activation when wearing them during a lifting session. I can balance better and feel my feet getting stronger.
And right there is the missing the piece of the puzzle.
Strengthening our feet.
When is the last time you did exercises specifically for your feet? If you were like me, probably not for a long time.
For several months now I have had serious pain in my left foot right around the arch. Over time I kind of forgot about it and learned how to live with the lingering pain. Then I was asked by my friend Mariana to help her with some intense achilles tendonitis and flat feet. She wanted to get active again after weeks of rest and get stronger from ski season. A lofty goal!
- Regain flexibility in calves, quadriceps, lower body
- Develop strength in calves (gastrocnemius and soleus), shins (tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum longus, extensor hallucis longus), and arch of foot (tibialis posterior)
- Maintain flexibility (hip, legs)
Add to your normal strength training program. Good luck!
For some great compound moves to add to your repertoire for a full-body burn, I direct you to Tuesday Trainer. These ladies did a great job this week!