The Core Work All Runners* Should Do

Everyone knows core strength and stability is important. It has become a buzzword. Did you know there is a foot core? I'm not making this up, this term was actually coined in a research article. The foot core refers to the intrinsic muscles of the foot and the muscles in the lower leg that move the foot. They are often weak and neglected despite being very important for any kind of walking or running activity. Why are they so weak?



 

Your Other Core

Everyone knows core strength and stability is important. It has become a buzzword. Did you know there is a foot core? I'm not making this up, this term was actually coined in a research article. The foot core refers to the intrinsic muscles of the foot and the muscles in the lower leg that move the foot. They are often weak and neglected despite being very important for any kind of walking or running activity. Why are they so weak?

  • We wear shoes most of the time

  • Our shoes are often rigid and restrictive

  • Arch support in shoes does the work our foot core should be doing

  • We train other muscles but ignore our feet

Athleticism Starts In The Feet

Watch anyone who moves really well. We use the expression "light on their feet." It has nothing to do with body weight. Muhammed Ali was a heavy weight boxer, truly a big man, who was known for being able to "float like a butterfly". Look at Floyd Mayweather jumping rope:


Two things might strike you right away. 1. See how bad that camerawork was? 2. See how springy yet relaxed his lower leg movements are? That comes from having feet that are every bit as strong and functional as the rest of his body plus a few thousand hours of training. Very few of us need to be at that level, but we would all benefit from having feet that were proportionally strong. Our feet can be strong and springy for walking even if we never have any higher-level athletic aspirations.


My Favorite Foot Core Exercise:

I call this exercise by a couple different names: arch doming or active feet:


It takes some practice but you can actually start to activate your arches INSIDE your shoe. I think it is easiest barefoot, almost as easy in a minimalist shoe and gets harder the more stiff and supportive your shoe is. But the beauty of it is you can do it anywhere, anytime! Your feet will start to get stronger and you might even find you want to experience a more minimal shoe so you can use your foot a little more. Progress the amount of weight you have in your feet slowly.

  1. Just try it to see if you can feel the muscles of your feet. Grab the floor with your foot as you roll it toward the outer edge. Feel your sole muscles work. Keep that arch active as you slowly relax your toes and roll your foot back to center

  2. Try it sitting first, less weight makes it easier

  3. Try maintaining it sitting and do a few heel raises.

  4. Try it standing

  5. Try it walking, heel raising, walking backward

  6. Try it slowly jogging.

This is a PROGRESSION! To get from step 1. to step 6. took me several months. Believe it or not it was actually kind of fun. Once I could activate my arch inside my shoe I could practice in the middle of my day without designating any extra "foot work" time. There's no way I would have done it if it required a whole extra workout session. Ain't nobody got time for that :) It became a technique that I integrated into my daily routine so that I am now strengthening my feet any time I'm on them. It's helped my knees tremendously. Keep a light, curious mindset and give it a try!


 

Strong Foundation

At Neighborhood Physical Therapy I've seen people benefit from 'shoring up' their foundation to help everything above. Training your feet can help ankles, knees, hips and spine. It can change the way you move and make you feel lighter. You don't need to be the undisputed champ to be able to float like a butterfly!




1 view0 comments