I doubt you will see anything more incredible today than the 90 seconds from the 2:15 mark in the video.

Driven by a need to manipulate objects without the gift of arms, this guy has developed extremely dexterous feet to do the things he wishes to. A quick search around Youtube will reveal many videos of people without hands doing many things that those of us with arms will find unfathomable.

If you pay attention, you will see that it's not just the guys feet that allow him to play. He also has very good control of his ankles and hips to put his feet in the right positions to toe his notes. To play that well he has good use of lots of himself.

You probably have no interest in playing piano with your toes but your foot function is probably of more importance to your physical abilities than you have thought.

A foot that doesn't move well has knock-on effects right up you. 

Every step we take involves cycling through the movements of pronation and supination. Without going into detail, these movements are crucial in shock absorption and power production.

Aren't these the fundamentals of athletic performance?

And if they are, wouldn't it be a good idea to work on them?

Without writing a guide on foot training, I will provide you with some ideas about how you can get your feet moving better, hopefully helping you to move better within your sport.

The steps (pun intended) go something like:

  • MOVE YOUR FEET WITH YOUR HANDS: As some parts of your foot will probably be under poor voluntary control and some of the joints in the foot can only be moved indirectly with voluntary effort, use your hands to get all of the joints moving. Go slowly and gently, exploring all the possible movements of your toes, your ankle, the heel bone and all of the bones between it and your toes. Work as many different combinations of possible. This will act as a sensitiser so that you are more aware of all the constituents of your feet and ankles.
  • MOVE YOUR FEET WITH YOUR FEET: Voluntarily move your feet and ankles with their own muscles to the best your abilities. It may be difficult to start with. Movements will possibly be inconsistent and jerky. Start with simple movements that over time progress in terms of volume and complexity to drive neural and tissue adaptation. 
  • MOVE YOURSELF YOUR ATTENTION ON YOUR FEET: Walk around, jog around, jump around barefoot on a flat, hard, clear floor. Notice what you feel as you do these movements. Emphasise the movement of your feet with every push-off and landing. Again, be progressive with this, alternating building volume and speed of movement over time. 
  • MOVE WITH YOUR GLOVES OFF (OR AT LEAST WITH THINNER ONES): Most people's feet have been hidden away in thick gloves and casts for years. They are more commonly known as shoes. They have no doubt played a part in the stiffening and dulling of your feet. PROGRESSIVELY reverse that process. When you consider ground safe, walk barefoot when you can. Work towards, over the course of months and years, wearing less rigid and cushioned shoes more often. This will slowly aid your foot adaptation through lots of extra low level stimulation. People who don't habitually wear shoes tend to have longer, broader feet that distribute pressure better through their structures. Look for shoes that are wide enough at the front to allow your feet and toes to splay as you roll through your stride.

This work takes time to provide results and the results are ones that you may not realise due to their slow onset and indirect nature. Working with a professional and/or with foot pressure plates can provide easier proof of progress but whether you notice progress or not, developing more dexterous feet and integrating their new capacity with the movements of the rest of your body is an excellent thing to do.

You may never impress like the pedal pianist but better feet will make your sporting music a little more harmonious.

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Performance and Rehab