Building a Strong Foundation: Start with your Feet!
The average person will walk over 150,000km in their lifetime. That equates to somewhere between 180 and 200 million footsteps. When you think about it, that’s a lot of work for our feet. And yet, how many of us carry out any level of training for our feet? How many of us think of all those steps ahead of us when choosing which pair of shoes to put on? Indeed, how many of us consider our feet at all…unless or until we experience a problem with them?
In previous blogs, I’ve discussed the importance of building a strong foundation before attempting to add extra layers of complexity to our training. For instance, if you can’t perform a hip hinge adequately, you probably shouldn’t be doing deadlifts. Our feet are central to this foundation and don’t get enough credit. Unless you’re hanging from a bar or performing some kind of inversion, you will be standing on your feet. Your body weight, and any other weight you may be carrying, will be on your feet. You will use your feet to move, to balance, to make minor adjustments. But, if you’re like most people, you won’t think about them.
The attention to feet in my Academy Classes
A lot of my kids’ classes consist of bare foot work. No matter the age of the child, there will be a point where shoes are removed. Why? To work on their foundations. Just like the house that needs a solid, steady foundation to carry the load of the structure above, our feet need to be a strong, solid base for the rest of our body. Our toes are used to grip the floor. Our foot rolls side to side to allow for balance. When used properly, the whole foot provides a wider surface area on landing. So, in class, we perform slow, balancing exercises, feeling the ground with our toes, with the base of the foot. We grip. We look at our foot position, adjusting it if needed. We build that strong foundation.
The Linchpin Structure
Like the analogy of the house with poor foundations, the rest of our movements and our body as a whole will be affected by poor foot mechanics. If our feet are not doing their job, then our body will find a way to compensate for that. It will alter our gait, our stance, change the way our hips move, how we stand…the list is endless. The effects of poor foot health and mechanics are huge. About a ⅓ of all GP consultations dealing with musculoskeletal issues are due to foot or ankle issues. Foot and ankle pain can be hugely debilitating, both physically and mentally. Our feet are so much more important than we think.
Of course I am not suggesting that if we have poor foot mechanics, or if we’ve suffered an injury which has irreversibly damaged our feet, that we are doomed to a life of no activity. However, it will have knock on effects to the rest of our body. The good news is there is almost always scope for a little improvement!
So let’s start treating our feet well. Let’s train them as we would the rest of our body. Let’s care for them as we would other parts. And let’s start young. Try the following:-
- Balance on one foot – leg straight and leg bent.
- Walk barefoot (only if safe) and notice the ground you are on.
- Scrunch up your foot, then relax it.
- Grab soft objects with your toes.
- Get a good foot massage.
- Think about the quality of your footwear and whether it’s fit for purpose.
For more information on how I can help with your children’s health and fitness, or for more details on my kids’ Academy Classes, please contact Anne-Lise Fitzgerald at LiftOff Gym using the contact details below.