By Dr. Edythe Heus
With spring here and more people hitting the road or trails running, hiking or walking it is appropriate to offer you one single gem that you can immediately put into practice and see measurable benefit. This small but significant area of focus could be the difference in each of you achieving your personal running goals, enjoying your hike more, adding more distance or making it less painful.
In all of my work with Olympic gold medal sprinters, world class ultra-marathoners as well as recreational runners and hikers, I have found the single most neglected facet of training was the feet. Training the feet results in such dramatic improvement that at Revolution In Motion we dedicated an entire class to this topic, “Feet First.”
We usually hear medical and footwear sales professionals referencing our medial or inside arch that runs from the big toe to the heel. I always like to ask what happened to the other two. Yes, you heard correct, most people think of only one arch of the foot when there are actually three all with significant purpose. You have the outside arch, which also runs lengthwise, but from the pinky toe to the heel on the outside of the foot, and finally an arch that runs across the foot from the base of the big toe to the heel. These arches are key factors in shock absorption, balance, and propulsion. They also contribute to the elastic rebound that happens when your foot hits the ground. Optimal running absolutely depends upon the performance of all these three arches, yet traditional training methods still neglect this fact. We have been dedicated to sharing this benefit and bring awareness to the running community, by emphasizing, strengthening and training each arch in all of our classes.
We are all taught that our hands and fingers have a high concentration of sensory nerves which allow us to perceive and explore our surroundings. Did you know that your feet are equally endowed? This rich sensory input that our feet provide us with is vital to proprioception-our body’s ability to sense position, location, and orientation. As your feet improve their ability to perceive your running surface, your gait will improve, your speed will increase and injuries will become less frequent and less severe (better cushioning and landing). In our Feet First class, we use a variety of unstable surfaces to provide the feet and ankles with heightened dynamic stimuli. This enlivens the sensory nerves in the feet making it the most effective way to tap into this essential component of cross training for running, hiking and walking.
Here are the links to one of our foot exercises
Slant board (arch downhill) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDCLijFtcb0
Slant board (arch uphill) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY5dhLMldfE
Slant board (toes downhill) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoYctgss_Ig
Slant board (toes uphill) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJnYuzJFC9A
You can make your own slant board using a cutting board with non-skid shelving material on a brick or a book.
Some recent remarks from runners in our program, “I felt my toes were going to tear through my shoes they were so strong” and “my running has become nearly effortless.”
Dr. Edythe Heus is a Featured Leading Lady and specializes in chiropractic health and kinesiology. Read full bio