How can your feet help you move better?
Your feet affect the performance of the entire body. Whatever kind of training you do, your feet will be vital to improving movement. For example, if your feet don’t perform in a smooth, strong, stable, well coordinated way during running, your endurance and muscular soreness will be worse. In Gary Ward’s excellent book, What the Foot, he says you can’t study optimal movement, pain management, or injury rehab, without looking at the whole body. Any kind of athletic performance will include the complete muscular and skeletal systems. Furthermore, fine tuning the flexibility, stability, and endurance of the feet will take advantage of the powerful impact the feet have over the performance of the whole body. Training your body without being mindful of your feet, could be a big mistake!
Nerves connect the Feet to the Brain
Because each foot is loaded with nerves, they can communicate constant information to the brain. For instance, data about terrain, balance, posture, and coordination, will keep you moving the best possible way. All of these sensory nerves in the feet allow your body to perform with graceful, coordinated motion. The brain is always trying to minimize overall stress on the body. The feet supply vital information to that goal. Moving the body efficiently is built into the nerves and muscles of the feet.
Ground Reaction Force and Cumulative Impact
Feet are remarkably resilient to intensive cumulative impacting force, because of the muscoluskeletal and fascial systems which absorb and redirect force. Ground Reaction Force, that’s the study of how the body copes with gravity and other forces of physics throughout specific movements, like a golf swing or high jumping. Running for example: each running step a runner takes is equal to about 2-3x the runner’s bodyweight. If I weigh 200 lbs, that’s 600 lbs of impacting pressure, per foot, every step.
Doing some quick math with some ground reaction force data, you can figure out that running a 5k distance, impacts a cumulative 2.5 million pounds per foot! Running a 5k is a completely average distance for anyone who runs frequently and is in moderately good shape overall. To give some perspective on the immensity of what 2.5 million cumulative pounds of force would look like, let’s take a look at Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, who is arguably the strongest human on the planet right now. You might know him as “The Mountain” from the show Game of Thrones. His record breaking personal best dead-lift was 1041 pounds. He would have to lift that much again, about 2400 more times, to equal what the feet can quickly and efficiently disperse in an average run through the park.
Help Your Performance from the Feet Up
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a performance plateau? What if you’re not recovering from an injury as quickly as you think you should be? Look to your feet. Are they flexible? Are they stable? Have you trained them for the specific sport or activity you’re working on? Ultimately the performance of the feet directly impacts the performance of the rest of your body. They are both highly sensitive to the environment and extremely strong against repetitive stress. If you suffer from pain elsewhere in the body, take a look to your feet for possible solutions. Because of the amazingly complex connection between the feet and the brain, a highly trained reflexologist can help you assess stress points and imbalance in your body. Sports Massage and Medical Massage techniques can encourage improved balance and optimal performance of the muscles and joints.
Come by and visit our practice Hands on Health Massage Therapy and Wellness in Cary, North Carolina to work with our team of highly trained and experienced practitioners. Help your feet feeling amazing and get your body performing at its best!
Written by Nationally Board Certified Reflexologist Tom Maxson, NC LMBT 17313