Unless you are a swimmer or you are a professional hand balancer (that’s a thing), your foot is the first thing to touch the ground in nearly every sport.
It’s probably pretty important to know how it is supposed to interact with the ground. Many of us don’t spend enough time being mindful of that. We have been focusing on that in the gym with our athletes a lot lately.
I’m going to give you a quick understanding of how your weight should be set across your foot when running.
In this photo below, these are the arches of your foot. When people are flat footed, it means that the muscles in the foot that keep these arches strong, are quite inactive.
Having all of these arches active is important. A strong, active foot helps:
- Keep your ankles sturdier to prevent injurious rolls and able to recover from them faster
- Allow better glute, quad, and achilles tendon use when moving
- Keep your knees, hips, & back healthy due to proper weight distribution.
Weight distribution is very important. Poor foot mechanics can heavily contribute to knee pain, hip pain, and back pain due to not being able to absorb the ground impacts optimally.
In performance, the transverse arch is key. That is the “ball of your foot” “the sweet spot of the foot”. Getting on this arch in sport keeps you stiff and powerful, keeping you from collapsing into the ground every step.
When running, you want your foot to roll across the transverse arch of the foot from outside to inside to the "ball of your foot". The inside edge of the foot is where you can create maximum force. This also makes for (and requires) a very strong ankle over time. The photo below is of several time Gold Medalist Mo Farah.
Even when you watch athletes jump high, you will see the knee slightly come inside to allow better use of that arch mechanic. This is another example of how using those arches can help with performance.
So, what can you do to improve this?
- Practice setting & balancing these arches. We draw arrows on the foot to indicate where the weight distribution should be on the transverse arch.
- Press your body forward until your heels start to raise
- Squat down once the weight is centered on the transverse arch, heels just off the ground
- Stay there for 10-30 seconds
- Do this on 1 foot. You’ll feel your foot working a lot
- We do running drills & run practicing flowing across this arch.
- Practice landing jumps on this arch
- Practice jumping using the inside edge of this arch
Just being more mindful of the arch and balancing on it can be of a tremendous help. If you are uncertain, reach out and I can help you out.
You can watch a short video analysis I made looking at Gold Medalist, Mo Farah here
You can check out the episode of my podcast “Training Well Done” to listen to it more in-depth here. The episode is "Running on the Sweet Spot of Your Foot"