“Think of the magic of the foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle and dance is a celebration of that miracle.” Martha Graham
Isn’t it fascinating that 26 small bones are capable of carry the physique weight of a human being? Often taken as a right, the coordination and built-in power of the human foot has advanced to permit miracles in motion.
As a Functional Podiatrist and health and fitness skilled, I’ve devoted my profession to serving to others discover magnificence in motion by means of the science of barefoot stimulation and foot core integration. Daily foot strengthening is some of the efficient means for stopping foot ache and for making certain optimum power switch with every step.
What follows are a number of foot-strengthening exercises focused towards constructing the foot’s “core.” But first, a fast evaluate of some key ideas associated to the ft:
1. Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Muscles
The foot and ankle function two classifications of muscle tissues: extrinsic and intrinsic. The extrinsic foot muscle tissues originate outdoors of the foot, however insert inside the foot (Figure 1). There are 12 (and typically 13) extrinsic muscle tissues of the foot, which could be divided into compartments of the decrease leg. It is their coordinated muscle contractions that create rigidity and stiffness throughout dynamic motion.
Conversely, the intrinsic foot muscular tissues each originate and insert inside the foot (Figure 2). There are 12 intrinsic muscular tissues, two on the highest of the foot and 10 within the plantar facet of the foot. Like the extrinsic muscle tissues, the intrinsic muscle mass are grouped into compartments, which permits for the dissipation of influence forces and foot stability.
When it involves foot-focused exercises, something that creates motion of the ankle, subtalar joint or toes is an extrinsic exercise, whereas exercises that target stiffness and rigidity goal the intrinsic muscle tissue.
A calf increase, for instance, is an extrinsic exercise as a result of there is motion at each the ankle and toes. Conversely, the brief foot exercise (described under) is an intrinsic exercise that focuses on foot-tension. Functionally it is essential to strengthen each teams of muscle tissues, as each teams are concerned in an exercise or motion, and the order of their involvement is essential. This is known as intermuscular coordination and is the key to optimum foot perform and foot-core stabilization.
2. Local vs. Global Stabilizers of the Core
The physique’s core could be damaged down into two totally different classifications of stabilizers – native stabilizers and international stabilizers (Figure three). Local stabilizers are deeper core muscle mass that contract isometrically to create stiffness and include a excessive focus of proprioceptors. These could possibly be in comparison with the intrinsic muscle tissue of the ft.
Conversely, the worldwide stabilizers are extra superficial and performance to decelerate motion via eccentric contractions. Like the extrinsic foot muscular tissues, the worldwide stabilizers ought to comply with the intrinsic or native stabilization activation and carry the identical intermuscular coordination because the ft.
This local-then-global activation is just like the intrinsic-then-extrinsic activation of the foot.
three. Focused Intrinsic Activation
The short foot exercise [click for video demonstration] targets the abductor halluces, which is an intrinsic muscle. The abductor halluces originates on the medial facet of the heel (calcaneus), runs the size of the medial arch and inserts on the aspect of the large toe (proximal phalynx). Functionally this muscle:
- Abducts the hallux
- Lifts the medial arch (navicular bone)
- Inverts (stabilizes) the subtalar joint
- Creates a coordinated contraction within the deep core
The brief foot exercise might be carried out as a foot activation exercise or built-in into many different closed-chain exercises together with squats, lunges and step-ups.
four. Foot Intrinsic Extrinsic Coordination
During all dynamic motion, the ft perform by means of the coordination of intrinsic-then-extrinsic activation. Therefore, exercises ought to combine this similar idea. The short foot heel raise [click for video demonstration] is one instance of a coordinated foot exercise.
To make this exercise much more useful, nevertheless, requires integrating the ft with the remainder of the physique, particularly the core.
5. Foot-to-core Integration
To really be practical, it is essential to combine the foot’s core power with the physique’s core power. This is finished by way of the coordination of the breath [click for video demonstration] with every foot activation.
Whether your shopper is an avid barefoot mover or new to foot fitness, foot strengthening should all the time return to perform. The ft are the physique’s basis and related to the physique’s middle of gravity, the core.
An particular person’s potential to combine intrinsic foot strengthening into core stabilization finally is the aim throughout any closed-chain exercise. The integration of the exercises described right here can simply be utilized into any shopper’s motion prep at first of the session or all through every closed-chain exercise.
Learn extra about the way to strengthen the ft within the course Feet, Fascia and Functional Movement.