Tip # 1 Go barefoot
Driving up and down San Vicente, it’s not unusual to see a couple people running barefoot. As a personal trainer in West Los Angeles, I had to explore this in more detail. Barefoot training gained popularity back in 2008 from the companies like Nike, New Balance, and Vibrams catching on to the vast amount of literature on barefoot running. What they found in the literature is that barefoot body mechanics are safer and more efficient compared to a shod population. Although the barefoot running craze was huge and has since died out, two key takeaways we can use to enhance your performance and longevity in the gym are:
You have better body awareness when you are barefoot.
The same receptors that are on your palm are on the bottom of your foot. What happens when you put mittens on? You can’t feel the sensation of what you’re holding, making it more difficult to grab and lacking any body response whether the object is still there or not (aside from weight of the object). So, why would you put a glove on your foot, especially one that restricts motion?
You will have a higher muscle activation level in the foot musculature
I once interviewed a podiatrist who told me wearing a shoe is similar to wearing a cast. If you’ve ever had a broken bone, you’ll know that once you take that cast off the muscles are terribly atrophied. So take your shoes off and work those deep intrinsic muscles! A strong and high arch is a healthy foot, and going up the chain can help the function of the joints above it such as the ankle, knee, and hip.
Watch how hard the foot is working during these barefoot single leg deadlifts:
Tip #2. Use a foam roller…the right way
The foam roller is probably one of the best self-massage tools out there. Chiropractors, physical therapists, personal trainers, and even doctors are recommending it to their clients for injury rehabilitation, injury prevention, and better movement quality. Why? Your massage therapist may have told you that you have “knots.” What he or she is referring to is that you have bound up muscle tissue. This is the result of overuse, acute or chronic injury, cumulative stress, and many other factors that are detrimental to your health and performance.
If you take a rubber band and tie part of it in a knot, the rubber band gets shorter. This is exactly what is happening to your muscles. You can stretch and pull them as much as you’d like, but unless you get these “knots” out you’ll never get the muscle back to the proper resting length.
Modern techniques of foam rolling are worthless, because you’re basically just compressing the tissue which, according to the Fascia Research Congress at Harvard in 2007, in order to make muscle tissue changes, you need directional tension.
Here’s what I mean in this video demonstration:
You’re welcome 🙂