Create A Tripod Foot
You would never build a house on a faulty foundation, and the same can be said with the feet. If your feet and lower legs are unstable, it will cause a chain reaction of dysfunction and impaired performance throughout your entire body. To create the tripod foot, your weight needs to be distributed through the center of your calcaneous (heel), and on your first and fifth metatarsal (big and baby toes). You also want to make sure that you keep your middle three toes down on the floor the entire time. Not having a tripod base will reduce the overall force you are able to produce, and it will also make your foot and entire body less stable, and more susceptible to injury. This will negatively impact your performance in the gym, in your given sport, and even during your basic daily activities. When you are running, it is important that all of your toes strike the ground, particularly your big and baby toes. This will increase your overall stability, the amount of force that you are able to produce, and will increase your running efficiency. When all five toes do not strike the ground, and when the foot does not strike the ground evenly, you will often see the ankle invert or evert, and this will make you more susceptible to ankle sprains, or other injuries, especially since running is incredibly repetitive in nature. The same can be said for sport specific movements like sprinting, jumping, striding, lateral bounding, and planting.
Do You Make This Common Mistake?
It is also important to note that when you are strength training and are performing most lower body exercises, you should press through the mid/back of your foot (not just your heel) but keep all of your toes on the floor, particularly the big and baby toes as this will allow you to recruit the right muscles in your body, have a stable base, and generate as much force as possible. Many people make the mistake of lifting their toes off the floor. In some instances it is because they are focusing so much on pressing through their heels (this is actually bad technique), and in many other instances, they do not have the strength or stability to form the ever important tripod foot, or their foot is incredibly tight due to being weak, or from spending too much time in improper footwear like high heels. I actually just finished training a client, and during the workout she was doing rear foot elevated split squats and I asked her where she was feeling the exercise. She said her outer quad of the working leg. I noticed that her big toe kept lifting up off of the floor, and that her knee kept tracking laterally. The second I instructed her to gently press down with her big toe while driving through the mid/back of her foot, her femur and knee became stable and she felt the exercise in her glutes and inner quads, which is a good thing.
Here is one of my favourite exercises that will help you strengthen your feet, and will help you master the ever-important tripod foot:
Instructions: Pass a weight or kettlebell from hand to hand while maintaining your balance, tripod foot, and full body alignment. This great exercise forces your foot to stabilize in many different directions. You will also notice that if you are doing this exercise properly, you should feel your glutes in the planted leg.