The key to unlocking balance for seniors is in strong feet!
How can a part of the body that is so under appreciated and over looked in the training space be the key for seniors increasing balance and stability?
Simple, we have been trained our entire life to look at the foot as one unit. One body part that we stick in shoes everyday and forget about until we take those shoes back off hours later. To be honest for most people this is not a problem, your body simple adapts to the shoes and actually becomes dependent on the shoes for movement of the body.
However as we age and we become weaker and less coordinated and stable there is a HUGE potential to gain by giving the foot a second look.
The human foot has over 52 different articulating surfaces, thats almost more then the entire body. The foot is also home to an equally impressive number of muscle.
By giving the foot a second look and starting to under stand how to train the muscles in the feet you can gain access to great potential gains in over all body stability and balance.
Now honestly: How many of you incorporate training the muscles of your foot into your fitness routine? I would venture to say very few of you if any have ever
thought to train/strengthen your feet. I would also assert that if you did train your feet for even a week that 100% of you would tell me what a difference it has made in your balance and stability.
Unfortunately it is just not something talked about within most of the fitness industry - even though the bulk of the activities we do in the gym start on our feet. Many might assume that because we are loading the body (adding weight) in a standing position all the time the muscles in the foot will just arbitrarily decide to get stronger.
Building a house roof first.....
Imagine listening to your building contractor sell you on a great roof without talking to you first about what that roof would be built on: the walls and more importantly the foundation. Without those components, the roof isn't much good to you. Your body is not far off from that. Most of us want to focus on the sexy muscles like glutes or arms, and seldom do we see selfies of well defined foot muscles. What a shame!
What if I told you that everything you do physically can be improved on by strengthening your feet. Everything! Especially those of us who have been on this rock for a little longer than others, our senior population. What has me say that? Next time you are people watching, look at how the older population walks versus their younger counterparts. Notice how the older population takes about three steps per one step of the more youthful population. That's a big difference, right?
Your supportive shoes are killing your gains.....
From the time we are born, we have our feet placed in supportive shoes (another post on this because I could type for hours about that line of thinking) and because of the strong sole, the insides don't need to (or get to) work as hard.
Our backs are another great example. We often see people add in external support. So we ended up with a bunch of super strong people walking around the gym that would ultimately throw their back out when trying to lift an egg off the back shelf of their fridge without their weight belt on... Make sense, right? They trained their body to get really strong with that external support versus actually training the internal support systems - ie your muscles!
Internal support vs external support....which one do we need?
As we age we become more and more dependent on the external structure we have surrounding our feet. Find someone in their 60-70s and look at the shoes they have on. If you find yourself in that age bracket, find your shoe. Pick it up, try to bend it, then twist it from front to back. Not very flexible?
Your foot alone has 52ish (I say "ish" because it varies from person to person) joint surfaces that are designed to move over each other. That's right. Move over each other. Remember that shoe you just looked at? How moveable was it? Like a cinderblock right?!? The thing has no movement! So if we have these amazingly evolved, designed, apparatuses, aka your feet, at the end of our legs that have the ability to move in so many different ways BUT we jam them into these super ridged non-flexible shoes, do you think that might lead to some weakness in the feet? How about the knees? The hips? Oh your entire body! Yes, to all mentioned!
By unlocking this massively overlooked area of the body and creating more strength in your feet, your entire body will start to change. With seniors, as I mentioned, this becomes an even bigger change! A chance for seniors to become stronger will ultimately lead to increased coordination and balance.
Getting older does not need to mean doing less and feeling less secure on your feet. Seniors can enjoy the same amount of freedom and stability with a little professional guidance and proper strengthening are this key area of their body.
If you know someone that falls into the senior age group or even someone you suspect has weak feet and could benefit from some guided strengthening, please send them this blog post. We would love to help as many people as we can regain their stability and independence!
Yours in health and fitness,