How Strong is Your Foot’s Core?


“Think of the magic of the foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle and dance is a celebration of that miracle.”  Martha Graham

 Isn’t it fascinating that 26 small bones are in a position to carry the physique weight of a human being? Often taken with no consideration, the coordination and built-in strength of the human foot has developed to permit miracles in motion.

As a Functional Podiatrist and health and fitness skilled, I’ve devoted my profession to serving to others discover magnificence in motion by means of the science of barefoot stimulation and foot core integration. Daily foot strengthening is one of the vital efficient means for stopping foot ache and for making certain optimum vitality switch with every step.

What follows are a number of foot-strengthening exercises focused towards constructing the foot’s “core.” But first, a fast evaluate of some key ideas associated to the ft:

1. Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Muscles

The foot and ankle function two classifications of muscle mass: extrinsic and intrinsic. The extrinsic foot muscle mass originate outdoors of the foot, however insert throughout the foot (Figure 1). There are 12 (and generally 13) extrinsic muscle mass of the foot, which could be divided into compartments of the decrease leg. It is their coordinated muscle contractions that create stress and stiffness throughout dynamic motion.

Conversely, the intrinsic foot muscle mass each originate and insert throughout the foot (Figure 2). There are 12 intrinsic muscle mass, two on the highest of the foot and 10 within the plantar side of the foot. Like the extrinsic muscle mass, the intrinsic muscle mass are grouped into compartments, which permits for the dissipation of affect forces and foot stability.

When it involves foot-focused exercises, something that creates motion of the ankle, subtalar joint or toes is an extrinsic exercise, whereas exercises that concentrate on stiffness and stress goal the intrinsic muscle mass.

A calf elevate, for instance, is an extrinsic exercise as a result of there is motion at each the ankle and toes. Conversely, the brief foot exercise (described under) is an intrinsic exercise that focuses on foot-tension. Functionally it is necessary to strengthen each teams of muscle mass, as each teams are concerned in an exercise or motion, and the order of their involvement is necessary. This is known as intermuscular coordination and is the key to optimum foot perform and foot-core stabilization.

2. Local vs. Global Stabilizers of the Core

The physique’s core could be damaged down into two completely different classifications of stabilizers – native stabilizers and world stabilizers (Figure 3). Local stabilizers are deeper core muscle mass that contract isometrically to create stiffness and comprise a excessive focus of proprioceptors. These may very well be in comparison with the intrinsic muscle mass of the ft.

Conversely, the worldwide stabilizers are extra superficial and performance to decelerate motion by means of eccentric contractions. Like the extrinsic foot muscle mass, the worldwide stabilizers ought to comply with the intrinsic or native stabilization activation and carry the identical intermuscular coordination because the ft.

This local-then-global activation is much like the intrinsic-then-extrinsic activation of the foot.

3. Focused Intrinsic Activation

The short foot exercise [click for video demonstration] targets the abductor halluces, which is an intrinsic muscle. The abductor halluces originates on the medial side of the heel (calcaneus), runs the size of the medial arch and inserts on the aspect of the large toe (proximal phalynx). Functionally this muscle:

  • Abducts the hallux
  • Lifts the medial arch (navicular bone)
  • Inverts (stabilizes) the subtalar joint
  • Creates a coordinated contraction within the deep core

The brief foot exercise could be carried out as a foot activation exercise or built-in into many different closed-chain exercises together with squats, lunges and step-ups.

4. Foot Intrinsic Extrinsic Coordination

During all dynamic motion, the ft perform by means of the coordination of intrinsic-then-extrinsic activation. Therefore, exercises ought to combine this identical idea. The short foot heel raise [click for video demonstration] is one instance of a coordinated foot exercise.

To make this exercise much more practical, nevertheless, requires integrating the ft with the remainder of the physique, particularly the core.

5. Foot-to-core Integration

To really be practical, it is essential to combine the foot’s core strength with the physique’s core strength. This is finished by means of the coordination of the breath [click for video demonstration] with every foot activation.


Whether your shopper is an avid barefoot mover or new to foot fitness, foot strengthening should all the time return to perform. The ft are the physique’s basis and linked to the physique’s heart of gravity, the core.

An particular person’s potential to combine intrinsic foot strengthening into core stabilization in the end is the objective throughout any closed-chain exercise. The integration of the exercises described right here can simply be utilized into any shopper’s motion prep firstly of the session or all through every closed-chain exercise.

Learn extra about find out how to strengthen the ft within the course Feet, Fascia and Functional Movement. 


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