Saturday, June 13, 2009

Secret Foot and Ankle Exercise...

This is the Ballet Heel Raise...
Using a wall or chair for a balance assist - Perform a mini sumo squat and while at the bottom of the squat perform a heel raise going high on the "balls of the foot" keeping the weight centered or toward the big toe. (don't roll out to the little toe)
Hold the heel raise and stand up out of the squat and push the ground away through your metatarsal heads (ie...balls of your foot) - lower heels while trying to keep your arch "short" and repeat.

You will feel a pretty intense contraction of the soleus and gastroc and your arch will get a great workout.  (the soleus is actually the primary extensor of your knee in weight bearing- weird eh???)
Edit and addition: According to "Gait Analysis" by Jaquelin Perry the soleus contraction during mid and terminal stance creates a stable tibia for knee extension to occur - a weak soleus will result in inadequate knee extension.
and in the Journal of Biomechanics -
Examination of the muscle actions during single limb stance showed that the gluteus maximus, vasti, and soleus make substantial contributions to hip and knee extension during normal gait.
so perhaps I shouldn't say primary extensor - maybe primary stabilizer of the tibia but if you take a step forward into a shallow lunge and then plantarflex your ankle your knee will extend.  Try it...

Vary the foot position so you do narrow and feet straight and various widths of stance etc...

Yes this is a Ballet exercise - one of the very basic barre exercises and it is excellent for your feet, arches and calves.
I consider this essential in the transition into barefoot training and strengthening the feet.
And I have lots of work to put in myself on this exercise. 

Sets of 10 or more as rest between other drills is a great way to make sure this exercise gets done because feet and calves are about the easiest things to ignore.  And be sure to use the balance assist in the beginning - it is tougher than it looks.

This is a very basic Ballet exercise and there will be more for me to introduce as we go along.

Double KB training today:
Prep - ASLR, Brettzel
Dbl 24 kg  BottomsUp Clean and Press x 3, 3, 3
Dbl 24 kg SLDL x 5+5, 5+5, 5+5
Windmill 24 kg x 5+5
Dan John Clean and Front squat Ladder w/ Dbl 24 kg
1 Clean + 1 FS
2 Cleans + 2 FS
3 Cleans + 3 FS
4 Cleans + 4 FS
5 Cleans + 5 FS

BHR x 40 (ballet heel raise from above)

Just a bit of double KB work - See KBs for Power Athletes for details on the Double BU C+P...


Adam said...

Beautiful, i will get on this

Brett Jones said...

don't let the "ballet" part of this concern you - it is a great exercise - my feet and lower legs are actually feeling like useful appendages instead of pegs!

Carl Sipes said...

I like were you are going with this bare foot stuff, good info. How do you like your vibram?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great info and pics!!...gonna get to work on these and get rid of some lower leg strains. Good stuff!!

Brett Jones said...

the Vibrams are great - going between those and my Sanuks at the moment.

Keep me posted and ease in to the exercises and continue to work on the mobility of the ankle as well.

Randy Hauer said...

I was going to ask you about soleus contributing to extension...thanks for posting those articles. My take on the articles were that knee extension was more coincidental with gait,limb position, balance and momentum...since soleus doesn't cross the knee joint it can't directly exert force on the levers, however plantar flexion changes balance points: knee extension happens as much to allow plantar flexion to occur as plantar flexion "causes" knee extension.
Seated calf raises (which isolate soleus) don't appear to cause knee extension, for example.

However, as I was sitting here at my desk I think I may have found an upper limb analogy that illustrates this. Flex the elbow to about 90 degrees, supinate the hand. With fingertips firmly under the top of the desk, flex the wrist...does your elbow extend? Mine does. So the wrist flexors are also elbow extendors.
(You can get the same effect with the hands pronated...extending the wrist will also extend the elbow.)

(If you really crank up the bi and tri tension you can lock the elbow and lift the desk, but that just demonstrates another possible action of wrist flexion.)

davor said...

This looks like it's just what the doctor ordered. Is there a possibility of a 'Secrets of Bodyweight Training' from the FMS guys coming out?

Brett Jones said...

Being in weight bearing changes everything - synergistic action etc...

You never know....

chris said...

What is a Bretzel?

Brett Jones said...

I thought an article on the Brettzel would appear in this issue of Hardstyle but evidently not - it is a t-spine rotation drill - I will get pics up on the blog when I can.


Paul Wade said...

This approach to lower leg training is real interesting, Brett. I've not seen this before...I do know two things:
1. when a pair of muscles cross a joint (the gastrocnemius and soleus), one of those muscles usually crosses the next joint up (the gastrocnemius, in the case of the ankle--it crosses the knee, too). 2. When you want to put a lot of stress on the muscle that doesn't cross the two joints (the soleus in this case), you can take the second muscle (the gastrocnemius in this case) "out" of the motion by bending the joint above (i.e., the knee). This is why bodybuilders do seated (i.e., bent-leg) calf raises for their soleus. TYour new exercise is very exciting for me, because it's the first time I've ever seen anyone do the same thing for a pure calisthenics technique! ...any idea on progressions? Or just higher quality reps...?

Brett Jones said...

Coach Wade,
Thanks for checking in on the blog - there are quite a few progressions that move to more dynamic heel raises and one leg heel raises and moving on to unsupported (free balance) heel raises.
I will get you some more info when I have time to shoot a short vid for you.
This really gets the arch and soleus going and by the time you are doing some of the dynamic free standing single leg versions you have some very strong lower legs.

Tom Furman said...

Wow, soleus drill, obscure reference. I had this listed for one of my future DVD productions, but you rediscovered it Brett. My original exposure was an American gymnast noting the Chinese using that drill a lot and having lots of pop in their jumping. I've watched ballerina's with every major company on earth use them for years. Nice stuff.
BTW,, it's time for you to expand on Resilient with your own work.

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Tom - I am working on something like that right now - hope you are doing well.


Paul Wade said...


I can't wait to see this! There's a vanilla chapter on calf raise progressions in cc2 (as you'll see!), but I wish I'd thought of this soleus stuff. I love weak link training--it's called "shotgun" work by the older generation of cons (c.1970s)--and it's great that you're promoting the feet. People now all know they need to deal with weak hands, weak spine, weak rotator cuff, but if your feet/arches/soleus are weak your athletic strength is seriously compromised. Great work, truly look forwards to the vid!

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Coach - I'll have it up as soon as I can.

Hope you are doing great

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