Take your shoe off. Yes, I’m serious. Where ever you are, take one shoe off. I want you to stand normally with one foot exposed. Now, I want you to engage your glutes and your quads while also keeping your knee locked in full extension. Make the tightest muscle you can with your butt and your thigh and I want you to, without moving your foot, try to spin the floor outwards with your foot. You may notice your knee rotate outward a bit– that’s good. Now, relax.
Let’s call the whole procedure I just described as “externally rotating.” The opposite action, or “internally rotating” your femur, would mean drawing your knee in towards your other knee, often without the engagement of the glutes and thigh muscles.
Now, you’ve got two positions: internal and external rotation. I want you to take note of the arch of your barefoot while you internally and externally rotate your femur. Do it now.. switching back and forth internally and externally rotating.
Crazy isn’t it? You’ve essentially been able to create and destroy the arch in your foot on command! External rotation creates a nice healthy arch in your foot as your femur rotates inside your hip. As tension and positioning are lost (and the femur rotates internally/knee caves in) the arch flattens out. Make a note that internal rotation is a breeding ground for meniscus tears.
Does this begin to make you wonder about “arch support” and expensive orthotics? If your feet tend to gravitate towards a more flat position, there may be some progress to be made by improve biomechanics. Few, if any, folks are doomed with feet that are shaped the wrong way. Often times the body just isn’t functioning well. Chronic knee and ankle conditions are nearly always a result of the function of the hip (and relative stabilizers). Folks that don’t train proper hip function are largely susceptible to a foot that acts flat, and a knee that is loaded up in a way it’s not meant to be.
Got flat feet? Try to squatting with your knees tracking out over your toes (externally rotated), it may be what’s keeping you from taking those insoles out of your shoes.
Arch arch arch and away!
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