Feet... the weak link in the squat...

Updated: Oct 9, 2019

Feet, feet feet..... yes we do go on a lot about feet I know, but they really are so important. 😀We talk a lot about foot strength for runners and how it affects gait, but the feet and how they work, really affects your body when you lift weights as well.

Imagine the basic squat, the way the hips and knees move are hugely dependent on the feet. If the feet collapse inwards, the knee will also collapse inwards.... an inwardly collapsing knee isn't ideal as it creates a strain on all the soft tissue structures, as the forces through the knee are altered. Those forces continue up into the hips, making it hard to get a full flexion...and that is without a weight.....🤔

Imagine adding that barbell and ramping up the weight, now the forces running through the leg have just increased and quite considerably. Therefore, the forces through the knee have also increased and any sheering force through the knee with additional forces (e.g the weighted barbell) is a very bad idea for the health of the knee.

Let's follow this through the biomechanical chain. As the knee drops and rotates internally it overloads loads the meniscus and the collateral ligaments, especially medially. It causes a strain on the whole of the joint capsule and causes the Rectus Femoris to be stretched, slightly inhibiting both it and the Tensor Fascia Late (TFL). A TFL that can't function properly inhibits the Glutes.... can you see where I am going here.... 😉 so over time we will begin to see an imbalance in the whole line of the lower body and deep squatting becomes harder and harder.

What does your client begin to complain of? Well pain in the knee, difficulty producing a full squat as they get inhibited at the hips.

What can you do about it? Add foot strengthening into their gym program 😀. Get them to stand on a wobble cushion or bosu in their socks, so their feet have to work unsupported by their shoes. Lots of one foot balance work, unloaded, again in their socks.... use balls, cups, pens anything you can find and get them to pick them up with their feet. Strengthening Tibialis Posterior will also help with arch formation, so heel raises are a great exercise option.

It can be hard to strengthen feet in the gym, as for safety reasons, everyone really needs to wear shoes and for hygiene reasons have at least socks on, but if you can create a safe area where clients can work in their socks you can really improve the lower body biomechanics, while strengthening the feet. Once they have the full hip movement back on their squat, slowly build up the weight limiting it by how well they can control the knee position. You may be surprised by how much more weight they can squat...🏋️

Fancy using this for CPD... try this task

Have a think about your gym set up, is there a way you can get create a safe space for clients to strengthen their feet. Think of some fun equipment you could set up in this area to allow your clients to strengthen their feet. If it isn't possible to do this in your gym environment, which exercises could you incorporate into your training programs to ensure the feet do not become the weak link.

Then write it all up in your CPD log. For our FREE CPD logbook, click here and subscribe to our newsletter.

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