The purpose of these guides is to provide you with an understanding of the concepts that made my program a success. This program overview will go over how I would approach the information here in the Academy as if I were just starting out.
Learning the Basics
The first three guides (Neutral Heel Position, Foot Tripod, and Building the Bridge) cover essential concepts to the program. Many of the exercises and other tutorials make use of these concepts.
Increasing calf flexibility is the next most important part of this process.
When I first started, I could not form an arch in my foot when sitting in a chair with my heel directly under my knee. My lack of ankle flexibility was forcing the arches to collapse. This was also one of the reasons my feet were overpronating when I walked.
Improving flexibility required regular stretching but it also required some ability to control the motion of the arch. You can get more information on the calf stretching exercises and goals in the Ankle Flexibility Guide.
Learning to walk correctly is crucial since each step can be sort of like its own mini-exercise. There were several changes I made to the way I walked that you can see in the Walking Tutorial.
I didn’t put in place all the changes at once. It was a gradual process over several months — working on the individual pieces and then combining it all together. Trying to walk with weight toward the outside edges of the feet was the biggest part of it.
The next category of exercises in order of importance is probably the heel raises. An important note about these is that I only started to see the benefit from these once I learned to do them properly. That’s why I put the seated heel raises in the beginner routine. You can read more about this in the Calf Strengthening Tutorial.
Short Foot Exercise
The short foot exercise is undoubtedly one of the best exercises for strengthening the muscles inside the foot. I don’t list it higher up in the order of importance for two reasons. First, I don’t think that strengthening these muscles in isolation has as big an effect as something like ankle flexibility. Secondly, it’s a complicated movement that takes time to develop.
One reason I love the short foot exercise though is that it’s an excellent teacher. You can learn a lot from working on the short foot movement. A common issue when first practicing the short foot is that the toes will curl under or grip the floor. A lot of times this is due to an unstable foot tripod.
The short foot is also difficult to do when ankle flexibility is limited. That’s why the progression of the short foot goes from:
- sitting with the heel out in front of the knee
- sitting with the heel under the knee
- standing with the heel out in front of the knee
- standing with the heel under the knee
- standing on one leg
- standing on one leg while swinging the other leg in the air
The short foot position was also useful in training the arch while standing and walking. Walking while holding the short foot position is an excellent exercise once there is a solid foundation of strength, flexibility, and motor control.
Changing posture is like changing walking mechanics. It’s an exercise that’s not technically an exercise. Posture is more something to be mindful of throughout the day — reinforcing good habits until they become automatic. Read more in the Posture Guide.
Controlling the movement of the toes plays an important role in stabilizing the arch. This includes both splaying the toes apart and being able to move the big toe and lesser toes up and down independent of each other.
I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible explaining what helped me get good results. Everything here serves a purpose.
Going through this process is like learning a new skill. At first, it takes a lot of thought and effort. There were times when I felt stuck or that my progress had stalled.
But then, with patience and practice, the pieces come together and everything starts to click. It was a powerful feeling to finally know my feet were doing exactly what I wanted them to do.