Barefoot Science, General, Naboso Technology

Three of the Best Ways to Strengthen the Foot Muscles

Physical inactivity is becoming a greater risk around the world, affecting more adults than ever before. Modern lifestyle relies heavily on technology. The downside of it is that it’s no longer necessary to be active to earn a living.

But the good news is, modern technology backed by scientific research can enhance and support a healthy lifestyle.

The Irony of Increased Exercise

If you do more sports activities, you must be aware of how to keep your body safe and healthy while exercising. Studies show that the most common sprains and strains are related to sports: the ankle joint accounts for 72 percent of all injuries.

How serious is this in the United States alone? Two million individuals suffer ankle injuries every year, and the cost to repair your feet muscles are far from cheap. A single sprain leads to setbacks at work, family life, and general life satisfaction.

You might recognize the initial symptoms of swelling and ankle pain when jogging excessively, or working out in the gym. If not treated, an ankle sprain can lead to secondary conditions. These include tendinitis, medial tibial stress syndrome, and medial knee pain. Up to 80 percent of patients who suffer a small ankle sprain will develop chronic ankle instability. More will experience permanent foot injury.

So how do we address this growing health problem? The best way is to ensure that while you are exercising, you are also strengthening your foot muscles. Balance, power, and strength are all factors in helping you perform physical exercises without the risk of injury. Here are three ways to do that, backed by scientific proof:

  1. Barefoot Training

Can training without sports shoes on benefit your feet muscles?  Absolutely!

Science has proven that it is far from normal for humans to be wearing closed or Barefoot Strong Covercovered shoes all day long. Shoes support our feet, but they also restrict movement. They decrease flexibility, and inhibit our muscles from performing as they should.

This is why many physical therapists recommend exercising barefoot. Look at yoga or Pilates athletes. Their agility and balance is enhanced when their feet aren’t restricted by shoes. Similarly dancers are barefoot or wear flexible shoes that promote — not inhibit — movement.

When you train barefoot, you enhance sensory stimulation, improve joint health, and optimize balance. And when you are more stable, you’re less likely to suffer injuries due to a fall. To learn more about barefoot training check out the book Barefoot Strong by Dr Emily Splichal.

  1. Short Foot Exercise

Many active people suffer from plantar fascial pain and metatarsalgia. This is often due to a weakness of the small foot muscles. Short foot exercise (SFE) or “foot doming” is one of the most effective foot exercises which can improve this. The exercise conditions your feet muscles for endurance. It requires no equipment and you can do it anywhere — even seated.

How does SFE work? Start by finding your foot tripod which is under your first toe, first img_7134.jpgtoe and heel. Lift the toes, spread them out and place them back down onto the ground. Using your intrinsic foot muscles, start to push the tips of the toes down into the ground. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 5 times per side. If you experience cramping, simply relax and try again later. To see a full video on how to perform SFE click HERE

In one study, short foot exercise was used to address chronic foot instability. Thirty adults were monitored during exercise for eight weeks. Scientists measured the quantitative somatosensory of joint position sense, vibration sensory thresholds, balance, and ankle instability. The group that performed the short foot exercise showed significant improvement in all the categories. SFE was more effective than regular physical therapy for treating ankle sprain patients.

  1. Texture Stimulation

Your feet can affect everything else in your body. How you exercise will directly affect the pressure on your knees, hips, low back, and neck, so it can lead to many injuries.

When exercising, pay attention to the skin on the bottom of your feet. It is critical for balance, posture, motor control and human locomotion. Using scientifically-backed texture technology during exercise protects your soles. It ensures you get the most out of your workouts, every time. Naboso Technology has both textured mats and insoles that are perfect for strengthening your feet and body.

The Naboso mat was developed by Podiatrist and Human Movement Specialist Dr. Emily Splichal. It has a unique, patent-pending material based on texture research and surface science. The unique texture will stimulate your body’s nervous system through the skin on the bottom of your feet. When using it, you may notice an improvement in your Naboso Czech Picpostural control, stability and strength.

Here are three ways you can use the Naboso Mat:

  • To optimize foot stimulation during standing barefoot exercises
  • When exercising with kettlebells, sandbags, or Olympic lifting
  • While doing barefoot bodyweight exercises such as step-ups or lunges

Similarly, Naboso Insoles work by stimulating the nerves in the bottom of your feet. They not only improve balance but positively impact gait patterns, ankle proprioception and force production.

You can think of Naboso Technology like “braille for the feet”. Naboso material lets your feet “read” the ground. With every movement, you become stronger, more flexible, and empowered.

For more information about Naboso Technology, visit our website and explore our product line today.

Advertisements
Standard
Barefoot Science

Are you barefoot with a purpose? The science behind intentional foot activation

The dust has settled.

Gone are the days of viral debates and forums on the benefits vs. risks of barefoot running.  Newspapers such as the New York Times have shifted their focus away from ripping into minimalist shoes and Vibram’s lawsuit is “old news”.

With no more talk about barefoot running – does this mean that benefits of “barefoot” cease to exist?

Far from so!

squatIt is finally time to shift the direct association made between the words “barefoot” and “barefoot running”.   To much of my surprise people STILL think that EBFA’s Education is centered on “barefoot running” despite our Certifications being called Barefoot TRAINING Specialist® and BarefootRx®.

It is time to expand our minds – set aside pre-conceptions and images of people running on concrete without shoes – and take a moment to understand and EXPERIENCE the power of training barefoot.

For those who are yet to experience the power of the plantar foot – I warn you – your life and your movements will forever be changed.

I’m not kidding.

The Evolution of Barefoot Strong

B-barefoot-strong-yellowBack in 2009 when I first started lecturing on barefoot training my focus was primarily on the direct stimulation of the skin on the bottom of the feet and it’s role in balance.  It’s funny when I look back at my old presentations.   I have to laugh at how LIMITED my perspective was back then.  Sure I saw the proprioceptors in the plantar skin – but I wasn’t even scraping the surface of how powerful the foot is in movement and performance!

The pivotal point in the Evolution of Barefoot Strong was when I actually stepped away from (meaning quit) my surgical residency training to go back to graduate school and get my Master’s in Human Movement.   To leave a medical residency in the middle of training was a decision that could have potentially cost me the ability to ever practice medicine – but in my heart I knew I needed to do this.   In my journey I knew I had to connect some of the dots in my knowledge and perspective on human movement.  (For those who are curious I later when back to complete my residency training and practice medicine in NYC)

These next 2 years were dedicated to the exploration of human movement as it relates to foot, barefoot science and fascial integration.  The research I uncovered took my Podiatric Medical Degree to a level I never dreamed possible.  With this new in-depth knowledge of foot fascial integration, neurology and neuromuscular coordination I knew I was onto something powerful.  What I discovered was that the biggest secret to being barefoot – is that you have to be barefoot WITH A PURPOSE.

What does this mean?

Science of Intentional Foot Activation

footyogaThere is a powerful interconnection between the deep foot stabilizers (intrinsics) and the deep core stabilizers (pelvic floor, deep rotators etc) – I refer to this as our local stabilization pathway.  What fascinating is that in yoga they refer this as Pada Bandha (foot) and Mula Bandha (pelvic floor).

In dynamic movement such as walking the only contact point between the body and the ground is our foot – therefore foot stability is crucial to proper transfer of impact forces.   When it comes to quickly and efficiently transferring these impact forces during walking – the faster our feet and core can “talk” to each other the better our walk, the decreased the risk of injury and the more efficient our gait (less energy).

The exercise for integration our feet and core is called short foot.   I know I speak about short foot A LOT – but it is THAT important of an exercise.    Check out the video below on how to integration foot to core sequencing via short foot.

Want to take it beyond walking?

Every exercise or injury rehab program – regardless of region of the body – will benefit from foot to core sequencing.   Be it shoulder stability or s/p ACL surgery – all joints in the body require fast pre-activation of the deep core stabilizers.   Since our feet are the only contact with the ground the feet actually play a critical role in how quickly we can stabilize the core when standing or moving closed chain.   (Think pitcher throwing a ball or a tennis player swinging a racket)

So the next time you go to the gym or have you weekly rehab session if you are already training barefoot – I challenge you to ask yourself.   Are you barefoot with a purpose?   Are you integrating an intentional foot contraction during your exercise?

I recommend start your session by integrating 5 minutes of foot to core exercises (see video above) or integrate it throughout the exercises (think kettle bell swings).

Want to take it EVEN further?   Learn the science of foot assessments, foot-typing and reflexive stabilization by attending a Barefoot Training Specialist® or BarefootRx® Rehab Specialist Certification!

Find a workshop near you! 

Stay #barefootstrong!

Dr Emily Splichal

Founder EBFA

Standard
Barefoot Biomechanics, Barefoot Science

From Primal to Bipedal : Why we must lock in our rolling and crawling with foot to core sequencing

Rolling and crawling are currently some of the hottest trends in fitness and corrective exercise programming.   From Animal Flow to Original, health and fitness professionals are exploring the power of primal movement patterning for correcting movement dysfunction and achieving optimal function.

We actually happened to just do a webinar on this exact topic with Stop Chasing Pain’s Dr Perry Nickelston which we encourage you to catch the archived version on the EBFA YouTube Channel HERE!

baby-development-web

Babies Sitting, Crawling, and Walking

Why rolling and crawling are such powerful stabilization techniques is that they bring us back to our neurodevelopmental origins.   Back when we were first introducing our nervous system to the demands of movement – millions of neuromuscular pathways were being developed.

These neurological pathways soon become the joint stability and coordination needed to sit upright, resist gravity and ultimately put one foot in front of the other.

What movement specialists are starting to realize is that by bringing it back down to the ground and reducing the demands of gravity, clients and patients are better able to restore stabilization patterns.

Test Your Primal Stability 

One example of crawling stability is the quadruped position.  In Animal Flow they call this position The Beast.

animal-flow-fitness_1394828697

Begin on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly over your wrists, hips over knees, neutral spine and feet flexed.

After creating proper alignment on these 6 points of contacts, engage the deep abdominals and lift the knees 1 cm off of the ground.   Immediately you should start to feel all your stabilizers engage.

Richard Scrivener of Animal Flow recommends holding this 4 point Beast for 45 seconds to test stability.

From Primal to Bipedal 

Despite the current popularity in rolling and crawling I think that it is important for movement specialists to remember that we are still bipedal animals and that simply training primal patterns is not enough to restore the demands of bipedal locomotion.

One of the biggest differences between primal movements and bipedal movements is the degree of impact forces encountered with every step that we take.   When walking each time our foot contacts the ground we are encountering 1 -1.5 x our body weight in impact forces that are entered at a rate of < 50 milliseconds.

To effectively and efficiently load these impacts forces over and over (sometimes over 10,000 times a day!) requires fast and accurate stability.

Now although we were training stability in our primal patterning that stability was not at the rate nor was it specific to the demands of bipedal foot contact.

Foot to Core Sequencing 

This is where foot to core sequencing comes into our programming.

walking-barefoot-298x232I refer the foot to core sequencing we use in the Barefoot Training Specialist® Certification as the critical step in locking in stability.

Why do we want to lock in our stability with foot to core sequencing?

Here are a couple powerful reasons:

  1.  The foot is the only contact point between the body and the ground which means this complex structure is the neurological gateway between impact forces and stabilization.
  2. Fascial sequencing exists via the Deep Front Line connecting the plantar foot with the deep hip and pelvic floor.   Studies have shown that by training the foot to core sequencing you can begin to establish feed forward, pre-activation sequences to enable faster foot to core stability
  3. Thousands of small nerve proprioceptors on the bottom of the foot detect the vibrations of impact forces making the bare foot the gateway to understanding how hard we are striking the ground and how quickly our foot to core sequencing needs to occur

Training Foot to Core Sequencing

The simplest exercise to train foot to core sequencing is via an exercise called short foot.  For those who follow my work probably new I was going to say this!

A few tips with cueing and integrating short foot.

  1.  Start with pelvic floor activation and identification if the client or patient is unfamiliar with how to engage these muscles.   Video on pelvic floor activation is HERE
  2. Stand up and find short foot.  In those clients familiar with short foot immediately begin to cue that they start with the pelvic floor engagement then add in short foot The video on how to do short foot is HERE
  3. Begin to coordinate the breathe with short foot / pelvic floor sequencing ensuring that the engagement happens on the exhalation.   I prefer the breathe to be relaxed and not forced exhalation but natural deep breathing that involves the entire thoracic cavity with lateral ribcage expansion.
  4. Begin to integrate foot to core sequencing in single leg exercises such as those listed HERE

Want to learn more about the benefits of foot to core sequencing and the Barefoot Training Specialist Certification please visit http://www.ebfafitness.com

Finally – as always – stay barefoot strong!

Dr Emily

 

Standard