STANCE HACK: TUNE UP YOUR FEET


Biohacking Your Body with Barefoot Science

“…… hacking” or finding a way to more efficiently manipulate human biology.  This can include areas of sleep, nutrition, mental health, strength, recovery. (1)
– Dr. Emily Splichal – Evidence Based Fitness Academy

 

Last ski season, I developed some simple cues or hacks to help skiers and racers quickly find the body position and joint angles required to create the pressure under the outside foot with which to impulse load the outside ski and establish a platform on which to stand and balance on through the turn phase –  THE MECHANICS OF BALANCE ON THE OUTSIDE SKI: IMPULSE LOADING

The primary source of information that helped me develop these cues are the exercises developed by Dr. Emily Splichal. Her exercises also helped me to appreciate the extent to which traditional supportive footwear with raised heels and cushioned soles has damaged my feet and deadened the small nerves responsible for maintaining upright balance and the ability to initiate precise movement. Since implementing Dr. Splichal’s evidence based science, I am not only skiing at a level beyond what I considered possible, I am starting to walk naturally for the first time in my life.

The information contained in Dr. Splichal’s videos will challenge everything you know or thought you knew about what we have been conditioned to believe about our feet and the footwear we encase them in. Contrary to what we have been told, cushioning under the feet does not reduce impact forces on the lower limbs and protect them. Instead, it actually increases impact forces while slowing what Dr. Splichal refers to as the time to stabilization; the time required to stabilize, stiffen and maximally protect the joints of lower limb from impact damage – THE MECHANICS OF BALANCE ON THE OUTSIDE SKI: TIMING OF EDGE CHANGE

The Best Surfaces to Train On

A good place to start is to learn which surfaces are best to train on. Again, while it may seem logical and intuitive that surfaces with cushioning are best because they will protect the body from shocks, studies show the exact opposite to be true. Over time, support and cushioning in shoes can diminish the sensitivity of the rich small nerve matrix in the feet that acts as a neural mapping system for balance and movement. In her YouTube video, Best Surfaces to Train On (https://youtu.be/gvJjIi3h1Bs), Dr. Splichal discusses the effects of different surfaces on plantar small nerve proprioception and explains how barefoot training is a form of small nerve proprioceptive training designed to activate the plantar foot. Balance training is best done barefoot.

The Power of Plantar Proprioceptors

Watching Dr, Splichal’s webinar presentation Understanding Surface Science: The Power of Plantar Proprioceptors – https://youtu.be/t5AU-noqMFg will further your appreciation of the power of plantar proprioception.

First Stance Hack – Plantar Foot Release for Optimal Foot Function

Dr. Splichal’s 6 Minute Plantar Foot Release for Optimal Foot Function – https://youtu.be/zyrKgFwsppI will dramatically improve foot function.
Dr Splichal explains how to use RAD rollers (golf ball or other firm balls will also work) to optimize foot function by releasing tissues in the plantar foot by applying pressure to the 6 areas shown in the graphic below.
Dr. Splichal advises to focus on using a pin and hold technique  (not rolling the foot on the balls) to apply pressure to these 6 spots on each foot holding for about 20 seconds on each spot with each of the three different sized rounds for a total time of about 6 minutes. The foot release should be done 2 times and day and prior to each training session.
In my next post I will talk about the second Stance Hack: Pressing Down on the Big Toe to Impulse Load the Ski and Power the Turn

1.  https://barefootstrongblog.com/2017/04/28/biohacking-your-body-with-barefoot-training/

6 comments

  1. This is what I’ve found in reference to the hardness of the surface that one’s feet are on in footwear. It completely confirms the premise stated here that harder is better. In the past when I would add foam to shim under the feet in ski boots and other footwear a mid density foam. Unfortunately that type foam had a tendency to ‘pack’ out which renders the reason for shimming useless as the feet imbed into the foam. The company I buy sheet foam from had a new product (or I just became aware of it) a couple of years ago which they call high rebound; it’s soft but packs out less than the other foam so I felt it was a great idea to have cushioning and durability together.

    In the meantime I needed to reduce the ‘toe drop’ in my rubber barn boots and I believe because it was the only foam I had of the desired thickness at the time, I used the hardest foam available from this source. I assumed I wouldn’t like it being hard on the feet but figured if I liked the results I’d acquire and convert to the other foam. I never did because there was never any discomfort and it improved my alignment in those boots that had been bothering my one knee.

    Due to last summer’s info from David on this website I bought more of the hardest foam and ran some tests early in the ski season; replaced the high rebound with the stiffest available in only one boot and liked it better when I compared the results. Just to make sure I switched foams in the ski boots so I still had one hard and one soft and again I preferred the harder one. So, any boots I worked on this season I used the harder foam or even rigid plastic if I had the correct thickness needed between the liner and bootboard/zeppa.

    Thanks for all David!!

    1. Thanks Michael. I always do a lot of testing to confirm for myself what the science says. I have 3 pair of goto zero drop, thin, very low resilency shoes and one pair of 5 mm drop minimal style shoes. I have been doing one-on-one tests between all 4 shoes and with different insoles in same pair. So far Xero, Vivobarefoot and and Lems are a dead heat. Nike gets an F-. But THE big game changer is the surface science NABOSO beta prototype insole I am testing. Shoes with NABOSO are a giant step ahead of barefoot.

  2. Good advice, David. Good evidence that uninhibited plantar proprioception is efficient and effective……something you and I have known for years. I recently spoke on foot biomechanics in alpine skiing to a group of skiing physicians and your concepts were well received.

    1. Thank you Kim. Check out The Foot Collective – http://www.thefootcollective.com

      The Foot Collective is a group of Canadian physical therapists giving people back control over the health of their feet through education. Most modern day humans have poorly functioning feet and our mission is to spread the truth about footwear and give people the information needed to independently restore their own feet.

      The collective exists to spread awareness of the importance of foot health and to provide quality advice on restoring proper foot function.

      Spread the word. The revolution to reclaim our feet and the great sport of skiing has begun.

  3. Hi David, Again a super post about very interesting topic ! Hope you are right ? I didn’t gobe you some News before cause of à tone of work and focus on my ski project That run very good in France 😉 I am very happy about my progression and avive all i can algo Help thousand of people and i Love this concept !!! I Would like to thank you again and again to inspire and help me/us to understand those natural/scientifcs things about skiing ! The common thinking is hard to ne move but that does not matter, i continue on this way 😉 Best regards Morgan

    Morgan Petitniot

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    1. Bonjour Morgan, merci beaucoup, thank you very much. Together, we will march forward and reclaim our feet and our bodies and take back our magnifique sport of skiing and make it great again. The revolition has begun. Best regards, David

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