M4DE XD

MADE FASTER & STRONGER BY DAN COSSINS

M4DE XD

MADE FASTER & STRONGER BY DAN COSSINS

M4DE XD

MADE FASTER & STRONGER BY DAN COSSINS

M4DE XD

MADE FASTER & STRONGER BY DAN COSSINS

M4DE XD

MADE FASTER & STRONGER BY DAN COSSINS

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Gaining With Feet At A Time

Gaining With Feet At A Time

Training techniques and ideas are so numerous now, it is literally impossible to apply every good idea you have as a coach, let alone all the different ideas you pick up from other coaches and athletes you come across in this sport, or that you can learn about in books and on the internet......... 

A good coach has to filter through everything they learn and know and put it into a plan that makes sense for the athletes they coach. Looking at strength and conditioning specifically, it’s almost unheard of to find programmes that don’t include some work on the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, abs and the upper body in general. All are essential of course but there is an area of the body that gets almost no effective or specific work in the gym and even in most maintenance and therapy regimes that an athlete is exposed to in an average week. That area is THE FEET, and ok, that’s technically 2 areas of your body, as most people do have two.

I admit there have been times I’ve ignored this area. I used to regularly get my feet treated by my long time Osteopath, Zara Ford, in Portishead, and she would always say how amazed she was that athletes didn’t look after their feet. Even then I didn’t really listen and it’s only recently I’ve seen the value of addressing the health and strength of feet.

Let’s think about it. For one, your feet are the only part of your body that make contact with the ground as you run. Your feet will take the entire weight of your body, one at a time, and this is added to the extra force that has to be dealt with due to the fact your are dropping out of the air. They get battered. If your feet aren’t healthy, are they going to be able to tolerate those forces?

What happens to the feet when they are not taken care of, is they start to get stiff. I often find toes that are very immobile. Dropped arches are often present (particularly in black athletes) and this can go hand in hand with chronic or occasional plantar facscitis. The mid foot is often locked in place and does not rotate at all, which it actually has to in order to stay injury free and to be able to transfer forces effectively. 

I mentioned it briefly in a blog about back injuries last week, but if we look at the big toe specifically. If it is immobile, it won’t extend fully. Your foot should roll over the big toe as you walk and run, and it should bend back, at least to around 90 degrees (ideally more). If it doesn’t, your foot will find a way of walking anyway. Instead of the toe bending as it should, it gets stuck at a lesser degree of extension. This will turn the foot outwards. Doing this over and over again, while running and walking, causes rotations that are not optimal for the knee and hip. Those areas will start to behave unnaturally. Overly mobile knees (an area that like to be stable and move in a straight line) and tight hips (an area that likes to be mobile and free), causes huge issues. In sprinters, I believe over 50% of hamstring injuries to be due to immobile hips (although I can’t substantiate that). This may have all started at the feet. So what can you do?

1. When watching TV in the evening, pull your toes back and get them moving more than they are now. Putting your fingers in between your toes (as if you were linking your hands together) is also helpful for spreading out the foot (warning- this is agony to start with, but it does get better and this will be a sign your feet are improving).

2. When the toes are moving slightly better, squat down as deep as you can but do it on your toes. Allow your weight to bend those toes back. Hold this for up to 60 seconds 2 or 3 times a day

3. See a reflexologist once a month. Reflexology is one of the cheapest forms of therapy, costing as little as £30 to £35.

4. Get a spikey ball, or use a golf ball if you can take that pressure and roll your feet for 5 to 10 minutes a day. Make sure to put some weight though it.

If you can get into this routine, I would be amazed if your injuries didn’t drop down significantly. And I think we’d all agree that less days out injured will lead to better performances.

If you love to run fast, your feet are helping you do that. Give them a little bit of love and attention, and maybe they’ll start to love you back. 

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