Pay attention to your feet!
Coaching movement and mechanics can be very tricky at times. Trying to pinpoint areas of inefficiency in a complex, dynamic, and quickly moving system can be difficult, to say the least. But one thing I have learned through coaching many different sports (Baseball, Skiing, Snowboarding, CrossFit, etc.) is that most movements start going wrong before the athlete even starts moving.
More often than not, the problem in question can be addressed by looking at the feet.
Proper set up is a given (foot distance, orientation, etc.) so I will focus on what you can do to make sure that you are taking care of your feet so they are ready for activity.
Do you “duck walk?”. Do you have knee pain? Do your heels want to come off the ground when you squat?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably have tight ankles, calf muscles, and soft/weak arches.
Your ankles are designed to be supported by the arches in your feet. The minute you lose that support, your ankles will start collapsing, thereby putting pressure on your knees, and hips. Do this 10,000x per day, for years on end, and you have yourself a recipe for a really funky movement pattern.
The good news is, your feet can be saved. So, what can you do to ensure that you are taking care of your ankles and feet?
- Stop wearing shoes that change your natural walking mechanics (running shoes, or any shoe with a cushioned or “air” sole). These shoes promote heel strike while walking, and weaken your arches. Since they are so soft, they react differently each time you take a step. Instead, wear flat shoes, with minimal sole height, and WALK BAREFOOT as much as possible.
- Walk with your feet straight. Now that you’re walking around like a caveman (or cave woman) pay attention to your big toes. Make a mental note about where your toes are pointed as you walk. Think about pointing them “inward” toward one another at first, it will feel weird, but you will likely be making a compensation to straight ahead.
- Do regular maintenance. If your arch is collapsing, and your ankles are tight, you likely have tight hips, hamstrings, and calves as well. Get on a regular mobility plan. We recommend. www.romwod.com or www.mobilitywod.com as great options. But something as simple as grabbing a lacrosse ball, or tennis ball to roll your feet, and on your legs will start moving things in the right direction.
For more information, tips and tricks on how to fix your ankles, get with your Coach for Life for a specific prescription.