The foot tripod concept is a useful way of thinking about how to evenly distribute weight on the foot. The tripod refers to three points of contact that the bottom of the foot makes with the ground. I often refer to these tripod points in the guides and exercise instructions.
Points of the Foot Tripod
The three “legs” of the tripod are the:
- Center of the heel (calcaneus)
- Base of the little toe (head of the 5th metatarsal)
- Base of the big toe (head of the 1st metatarsal)
A balance between these points gives the foot stability. It’s also thought that the arches of the foot function optimally when the tripod position is maintained.
Optimal Foot Contact
Standing with a strong foot tripod position can be tricky for someone just starting out with building arch strength.
For someone with flat feet, it’s often difficult to feel exactly where the points should be.
One way to go about finding the foot tripod is by first getting into a neutral heel position. Doing this is often enough to set the first and second points of the tripod.
The next step is to lift all the toes up while keeping the ball of the foot on the floor. This provides a better sense of how much pressure is under the 1st metatarsal head (underside of the big toe joint) and the 5th metatarsal head (base of the little toe joint).
When I was working on this, I found that pressing down into the floor with the base of my big toe while maintaining the neutral heel position was helpful to stabilize that “leg” of the tripod.
Like the neutral heel position, feeling for the foot tripod when I was sitting or standing was something to practice as often as I could remember.
It’s easy to check for the tripod by lift all the toes up and feeling for contact under the two front tripod points.
Placing a coin underneath one of the front tripod points is another way to get feedback on the amount of pressure at that point.
I noticed that when there was good engagement with the front points of the tripod, my toes would lay flat and straight. Before, my little toe and the one next to it would be curled — likely because the were trying to claw into the ground to stabilize the foot.
The ultimate test for the foot tripod was to be able to stand on one leg with the tripod points stable.
When the tripod is not stable, the base of the big toe will often bob up and down when attempting to balance on one leg.
Stabilizing the foot tripod will be discussed in the next guide on building the bridge.