Will weak feet cause your defeat?
Will weak feet cause your defeat?
By Dr. Glen Hyman
If a tree is not firmly
rooted to the ground, a strong wind will blow it over. A fence with poorly set
posts is flattened easily by a strong dog. And weak feet will lead to your defeat.
Your feet are more than
just a place to store your socks, they’re your connection to the ground. Strong
and healthy feet make you quick, powerful, and nimble. Weak and dysfunctional
feet make you slow, achy, and wobbly – and really bad at yoga. When it comes
to your entire body, your feet set the tone for performance.
Most of us don’t know much
about our feet, and most of us don’t want to. And that’s ok. With that in mind,
I’m going to be really light on the details. Ready?
There are over 20 muscles
in your feet. On top of that, about 10 muscles in your shins attach to your
feet, bringing the total to more than 30. These muscles’ job descriptions include
wiggling your toes, flapping your feet, pushing off from the ground, absorbing
shock, and supporting your arch. Yes, there are muscles that support your arch.
The Arch: That’s where I’m
going in this Special Edition of the Special Report. Your arches are supported
by ligaments and muscles in your feet and shins. Or at least they should be.
Somehow, we’ve all been
led to believe that our shoes should support our arches. This is true for long
distance running. But it’s not true the rest of the time. By relying too much
on high-tech shoes, and shoving things like orthotics in there, we’ve cheated
our feet. That’s right, we’re a nation of feet-cheaters. The high tech “solutions”
to foot problems actually create weak feet that cry out constantly for support.
Here’s a surprising fact:
The less industrialized nations of the world have citizens with far fewer foot
problems. Why? Because they actually use all of the muscles in their feet. Now
don’t get me wrong, I’m not indicting capitalism or the Industrial Revolution.
I love America, love my TV, my internet, my refrigerator, my indoor plumbing,
and cholera-free water supply. I also, however, think that the shoe industry
is kind of a giant sham.
Try a little experiment,
if you wouldn’t mind. Take of your shoes and go stand in front to the mirror.
Now, lift your left leg up and watch your right foot on the ground. What happens?
For most of you, after a few seconds, the arch will flatten out. This is usually
followed by shifting your right hip to try to correct your balance. Then the
hand flailing begins. Soon, you must put your left foot back down to regain
your balance. It all started in the feet.
There are two muscles,
the Tibialis Anterior (on the shin) and the Tibialis Posterior (deep in the
calf) that should, if they’re strong, support your arch. You also have muscles
in your feet that help. When they are weak, as they usually are, your balance
is bad. Dancers and gymnasts usually have very strong feet, and therefore very
Try the one-foot test again.
This time, make an effort to hold your arch up while you’re on one foot. (Imagine
that your favorite pet bug is walking under your arch and if you let it flatten
out, the bug gets squished.)
What happened? You were
more stable, took longer to lose your balance, and felt a strange muscle burn
deep in your arch and calf. You’re surprised. You’ve just learned something
that most people never figure out: you shouldn’t rely only on shoes to support
You may be shocked. You
do calf raises at the gym. Shouldn’t that strengthen the “arch support” muscles?
Not if you use shoes and not if you use machines. (Warning: Most gyms will make
you keep your shoes on, which is a good thing given how filthy their floors
Once again, high-tech shoes
provide too much support to let you challenge your arch muscles. And most machines,
calf machines in particular, do all the balancing for you. The result: a nation
of feet-cheaters riddled with plantar fasciitis, chronic ankle sprains, knee
problems, back pain, calf pain, etc…
It doesn’t have to be that
The solution: Get rid of
the shoes and get away from the machines (at least a few times each week). You
can strengthen your feet with the following bodyweight-only exercises in the
clean comfort of your own home. Practice these exercises three times a week
and you’ll be amazed at how much your balance improves and how much stronger
your feet feel. You’ll notice the difference in your sports of choice. And,
you’ll probably have fun.
First, some general rules:
Make sure you have lots of space around you in case you fall. Move slowly and
come to a full stop at the top and bottom of each rep. Start with 1 set of 3-12
reps of each exercise. If they’re all too easy, hold a weight. Apply the core
contraction skills I taught you a few newsletters ago. You’ll be surprised how
this helps your balance. (You can find this article at www.denverback.com) And
of course, always clear anything you ever do physically with your doctor.
Standing calf raises, 2
legs. Just like the machine version, but harder. Slowly raise all the way to
your toes, and hold for a count of 5. It’s harder than you think. Yes, you may
do this off the end of a step, just don’t bounce. Try the 1-leg version, too.
Back lunge. Lunge backward
slowly and try to maintain your balance with the planted leg. Then slowly come
back up. Remember, you’re working the foot, not just the quad.
One legged squats (Advanced).
This is a tough one. Standing on one leg, bend the knee and fold at the hip
to squat down. Go until you reach the floor with your hands, but do not let
the ‘flying foot’ touch down. Remember to tighten the core. Then, come back
up. (You may have to tap your other foot for balance at first)
Very advanced: The one legged
Inevitably, you’ll want
to know what kind of shoes you should be wearing. If you’re a runner, get running
shoes you like. You’ll want some support there, and you’ll want to consult a
running pro. For working out, go low-tech. This is the time to challenge your
arches. I prefer either the Converse Chuck Taylors, or Adidas Stan Smiths. (By
the way, if anyone knows who Stan Smith was, please call me and tell me.)
Chuck Taylors are available
in many styles, high and low, for both men and women. They even come in pink.
They run a whopping $40. Remember $40 shoes? I don’t either. Wresting shoes
are good, too. But they look kind of strange. Unless you’re a wrestler.
And of course, it goes without
saying that years of feet-cheating may leave you with dysfunctional, scar tissue
clogged muscles. This will affect how your muscles work and how they feel. Active
Release Technique is still the one and only technique that actually breaks up
scar tissue. So, come on in and get fixed up. 303.300.0424
© Dr. Glenn, Inc. 2004.
Denver Chiropractic Center. All rights reserved.
Used with permission by
D3 Multisport, Inc. 2004