Toe Dexterity, the Foundation of Performance
We’ve been doing a series for the tip of the weeks on the foot. When we look at our feet, there isn't really anything to think about, as we have grown up we are wearing some kind of shoe or sock to help aid in support and protection for our feet. What we are not realizing is that this is causing us more problems then you really think!
The one thing we start to see is the loss of dexterity in the toes. Dexterity is simply the skill in performing a task. We see this used in the hands all the time, because we are able to move them and understand the range of motion they can create, the sense of feeling and motor control. The same thing goes for our feet. When we don’t use it we lose it; we hear that all the time in random conversations about things. Well, it goes the same for our toes.
Toe dexterity is a MUST. Why is this? It is simple: they need to be able to play around with the range of motion. The toes need to aid in support and protection not just for the foot, but for the rest of your body.
Our feet are the foundation to our body and it starts with the toes.
Why We Need To Fix Our Toe Flexibility
I recently did a podcast with Nick St. Louie of The Foot Collective and we dived deep into how we can fix our feet and why we need to.
The lack of toe dexterity can cause a number of problems and then lead to even bigger problems:
Lack of Single Leg Balance
Lack of Trunk Stability
The list can go on and there can be many other factors that can contribute to this. But fixing the smallest movement will lead to creating better movement long term.
“Micro Movement dictates Macro Movement” - Joel Jamison
Our feet were meant to cover as much surface area as possible to give us a wider and stronger and more stable platform to walk on. Humans have take that away and have caused problems with keeping our feet in shoes that smash them together, wear heels that put our feet in bad positions, and never letting them play and be free.
Understand that the feet take on all the weight that the body is carrying. As we get older and get heavier, our feet end up staying the same surface area. We end up causing problems up the system which is not ideal. Again, an injury isn't cause by that exact moment you hurt yourself. It’s caused by the 100,000,000 reps you have done in your lifetime, and that one time you hurt yourself was the breaking point.
How To Regain Dexterity In Your Toes
When I was first exposed to learning how to regain control of the dexterity in my toes, it was one of the hardest things to do. I will show you the toe dexterity protocol I have use on myself and other athletes who need help to promote better movement not just for performance but every day life.
Toe Dexterity Foot Protocol:
Big Toe Dorsiflexion, while keeping other toes flat on the ground x 5-8 per/side
Little Toes Dorsiflexion, while keeping the big toes flat on the ground x 5-8 per/side
Alternating Big Toe / Little Dorsiflexion, focus on controlled movement x 5-8 per/side
Towel Squeeze w toes x 5 per/side, use a small towel and short so that you have something to start with
Calf Raises onto Toes x 5-8 per/side, slow and controlled reps
Single Leg Balance x 10-15 secs/side, active arch at all times
Single Leg Calf Raise on to toes x 5-8 per/side, slow and controlled reps
Toe Spreading from big toe to the pinky toe x 5 per/side, as you spread the toes, look to get the toes out as wide as you can to cover as much surface and hold it there for 3-5 secs
In-Line Walking Lunge x 5-8 per/side
Look to do these 3-4 times a week and your feet and toes will thank you. As well, look to walk around barefoot as much as possible to let those toes play and move freely.