Spring is on its way so, regardless of what sporting or exercise activity you participate in, if you want to be successful and get the most out of your performance, start from the bottom up. Yes, feet first! Now that it is daylight savings time and it will stay light longer, more people will begin to exercise outside and try to lose that winter weight and your feet will play a major role in that process. The feet, unlike other parts of our body, are very complicated parts of our body, responsible for keeping us moving forward, backward or side to side on any given day, depending on the activity! They are capable of supporting as little as a few pounds to over 300 depending on how much you weigh. Each foot is composed of 26 bones, lots of joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, a vascular system which feeds all the tissue structures and a system of nerves that allows you to move in all directions. However, if your feet are not properly balanced, the muscles in your entire body can pay the price and can show up as foot, leg and low back pain and put you out of commission.
Muscle imbalances can result in lower extremity injuries such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, muscle strains and pain in the joints of your feet, ankles, knee, hips or low back. These soft tissue injuries are a byproduct of repetitive overuse. Too much, too soon, too quickly is the trigger mechanism. Exercisers are vulnerable to these potential problems because they are not aware of how important it is for them to be balanced from the ground up. If you have a tendency to be heavy or over weight it can place more strain on your lower extremity. The main reasons for these potential lower half problems from the low back down, is joint collapsibility in the feet, body weight and gravity. The joints of the feet collapse because of abnormal pronation where the mid-foot (mid-tarsal) joints are too flexible and flatten towards the ground. The plantar muscles in the foot and tendons are not strong enough to prevent these dynamic movements and when you add gravity to the equation collapse occurs.
Whatever age you are, to achieve maximum performance in whatever competitive sport you are participating in such as running, baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball, basketball, football, soccer or golf your feet must be supported and balanced. Being balanced will allow you to generate more power in your hips, legs and feet during your favorite sport and excel.
Placing orthotics in your athletic shoes or running shoes is the best way to balance your feet and achieve better efficiency. There are many different options to try and balance your feet which will in turn translate into improved performance. Custom made orthotics by a podiatrist or a foot specialist is the Rolls Royce of arch supports, but for many over-the-counter arch supports can also do the trick. These types of arch supports will help prevent foot problems such as plantar fasciitis which can really affect your ability to compete. They can be found online by using sports specific key words such as arch supports for running, tennis, golf and baseball or softball cleats. By placing arch supports in your athletic shoe wear it will allow the ball of your foot to be circularly placed on the floor of the shoe and create better stability and balance from the ground up.
So when you are looking for that competitive edge, "better balance equals maximum performance!"