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  • Another body part thread!

    So let's talk about feet and ankles. What do you do to strengthen them up?

    In my experience assessing movement patterns for a living I have noticed a considerable percentage of the population has very weak ankles and feet. This especially matters when one is squatting. One of the main reasons I see an individual's knees cave in is because the individual doesn't shift the ankle over the center of the foot which causes inefficient power transfer though the rest of the chain.

    Thoughts?

    Comments?

    Corrective exercises?

  • #2
    I think I would need a much larger head or much smaller butt to keep my knees that far back. It's a struggle enough to keep them over the toes instead of lunging out into space!
    Crohn's, doing SCD

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    • #3
      Try weighted one legged stretching on a leg press machine or standing calf raises with dumbbell or machine with progressive stretching of the Achilles tendon and the ankle joint. Also running barefoot on the beach or in snow, up and down stairs - weighted or un-weighted ankle rotations using hands for stability…
      "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

      - Schopenhauer

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Iron Will View Post
        So let's talk about feet and ankles. What do you do to strengthen them up?

        In my experience assessing movement patterns for a living I have noticed a considerable percentage of the population has very weak ankles and feet. This especially matters when one is squatting. One of the main reasons I see an individual's knees cave in is because the individual doesn't shift the ankle over the center of the foot which causes inefficient power transfer though the rest of the chain.

        Thoughts?

        Comments?

        Corrective exercises?
        I like the idea of barefoot work, especially on uneven terrain/sand, but I'm not sure I understand how you concluded that these people have weak feet/ankles as opposed to poor proprioceptive abilities in the region of the hip and/or weak abductors and related musculature. Are you sure it's not an issue higher up in the kinetic chain?
        The Champagne of Beards

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        • #5
          Originally posted by RichMahogany View Post
          I like the idea of barefoot work, especially on uneven terrain/sand, but I'm not sure I understand how you concluded that these people have weak feet/ankles as opposed to poor proprioceptive abilities in the region of the hip and/or weak abductors and related musculature. Are you sure it's not an issue higher up in the kinetic chain?
          First off to answer your question about issues further up the kinetic chain. Oh absolutely there are issues further up the chain! Most people can't hip hinge properly because they're quad dominant and unable to activate the glutes, periformis, and other muscles that adduct the femor plus weak abs and tight lumbar spine (lower cross syndrome) so yes absolutely there are issues further up the chain.

          I guess what I'm thinking about is that most people, (this site may not be the best cross section to look at) don't use minimalist shoes or work out barefoot. Most people wear soft soled running shoes or high heels or dress shoes that do nothing for your feet. High heels may strengthen your ankles but they shorten the calves which cause different issues again. These types of shoes are just like putting your foot in a brace 8 or more hours a day which weaken the foot, and I'm going to hypothesize, the ankle because it doesn't have the opportunity to stabilize like it would when one is barefoot.

          This could also be part of the reason for issues up the kinetic chain because if your weak in one spot something else has to compensate for the weakness. Knee pain? Tight TFL? Sartorius pulling on the knee displacing the tibia?

          Oh so much fun!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
            Try weighted one legged stretching on a leg press machine or standing calf raises with dumbbell or machine with progressive stretching of the Achilles tendon and the ankle joint. Also running barefoot on the beach or in snow, up and down stairs - weighted or un-weighted ankle rotations using hands for stability…
            Running barefoot in the snow? Damn you are a bad ass!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Iron Will View Post
              Running barefoot in the snow? Damn you are a bad ass!
              No problems, I did it every winter when I stayed in northern europe, here at the pasific coast of South America I must now stick to running barefoot at the beach instead!

              You can make intervalls from a warm Sauna and do "sets" as long as you can take it in the snow and then go in for re-heating yourself. Even better is running around in (flaming) shorts only and without a shirt and do some rolling around or wrestling in the snow with training partners etc...
              "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

              - Schopenhauer

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              • #8
                Walking around in minimalist shoes. I started with Five Fingers, but recently started wearing vivibareboot shoes to work and pretty much everywhere. They have even less of a padded heal than the Five Fingers and really force you to walk differently -- using the calf muscles more and stretching my Achilles tendon a bit to make running easier after all these years of wearing bad shoes.

                What about jump roping?

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                • #9
                  If you want strong feet and ankles you must exercise them. Get your feet out of their foot coffins. Walk around on uneven surfaces with your freed-up feet. And forget about those "non activating glutes". I don't think that's even possible. If most people aren't going barefoot or minimal and most people have weak feet and ankles, it's not because the largest muscle in their body forgot how to activate. It's because they're wearing too much shoe all the time.
                  Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                    If you want strong feet and ankles you must exercise them. Get your feet out of their foot coffins. Walk around on uneven surfaces with your freed-up feet. And forget about those "non activating glutes". I don't think that's even possible. If most people aren't going barefoot or minimal and most people have weak feet and ankles, it's not because the largest muscle in their body forgot how to activate. It's because they're wearing too much shoe all the time.
                    Are you suggesting LAS (Limp Ass Syndrome) is not a real condition? Tell that to all the globo-gym personal trainers.

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                    • #11
                      ^^^ I have always wondered if there was a connection between my massive butt and my constant barefoot walking.

                      Apparently yes
                      "The soul that does not attempt flight; does not notice its chains."

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                      • #12
                        I don,t think my issue is a lack of strength. Rather it is fore aft mobility. I have worked on squats with my feet together and have been (lamely and half assedly) working toward pistols. I have difficulty getting the weighting right and being able to keep my feet flat on the floor while in the down positioof a pistol. Thoughts on how to improve that mobility?

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                        • #13
                          Balancing exercises are good for your ankles and feet. Though you have to be careful with them, if done wrongly you might hurt more than you cure…
                          Also walking on a beach barefooted works miracles.
                          My story, My thought....

                          It's all about trying to stay healthy!!!!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by OneDeltaTenTango View Post
                            I don,t think my issue is a lack of strength. Rather it is fore aft mobility. I have worked on squats with my feet together and have been (lamely and half assedly) working toward pistols. I have difficulty getting the weighting right and being able to keep my feet flat on the floor while in the down positioof a pistol. Thoughts on how to improve that mobility?
                            Keeping your weight back in your heels will help but if you find yourself coming up on to your toes you most likely have very tight calves so you're going to need to do some serious stretching.

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                            • #15
                              Beach running, definitely. Gorbags stuff was pretty well bang on. I'll sometimes do calf raises without my legs at lockout and some flex in the knee to keep the Achilles activated. Lateral strengthening is tricky to drill for without sand or snow, though. A workmate has a mini bosu ball used upside down for rehab after tendon tears. Not sure how effective it is, but he likes it.

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