The feet are one of the most interesting parts of the human anatomy. There are 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. This brilliant structure must be sturdy enough to absorb the extreme forces of movement, yet supple enough to make minute adjustments for balance.
All athletic movement is based on the ability to produce force into the ground in the correct sequence, a foundational principle of movement signatures. This connection with the ground occurs through the feet, and as a result they are the starting point for understanding both movement and performance. The feet are on the “front lines” of the battle for body position, force production, and movement signature improvements.
Ground Contact Determines Performance
Too many careers have been ended by foot problems and Achilles tears. The feet and lower leg are a complex collection of muscles and joints that deserve serious attention and care.
While you can avoid extra stress from activities like jogging; training, practice, and competition also take their toll.
These structures work to stabilize, absorb and redirect forces, thus creating angles with the ground which endure tremendous amounts of stress that can lead to chronic injury.
These forces of ground contact (GRF) are what make sport performance possible, and since there is no way to avoid these stresses, we must find a way to manage the impact that they have on our body. Soft tissue release is the daily process of exploration and management of muscle and fascial tension. Because the feet dictate every ground-based movement, they are the most important place to release.
How to Release
Use a small implement (golf ball) to apply maximum force to the tissues in bottom of feet
Side to side rocking motions are the best way to find trigger points (lumps) in the calves – once you find a trigger point apply direct pressure and make circles with the ankle
The peroneals and tibialis anterior (outside shin muscles) are key stabilizers of the ankle, and often some of the most painful places to roll
Athletically speaking, your feet and lower legs are one of you most prized possessions. Treat them accordingly with daily soft-tissue release. These tissues are some of the first to stiffen and lose function, so they are an indicator of potential future problems elsewhere. Check back next week when we move up the kinetic chain and talk about taking care of your knees.