Good article on the often overlooked role our feet play in squatting and deadlifting by Todd Bumgardner at Bodybuilding.com
Build a stronger squat and deadlift by focusing on your foot position. Here’s an approach that will help you put your strongest foot forward!
Feet aren’t often a point of pride. Muscle-bound, barbell-wielding gentlemen don’t often brag about their southern-most appendages. No, it’s “Check out my squat!” or “Hey, dude, I pull 500!”
The humble truth is, however, that every impressively demonstrated strength feat necessitates, well, solid feet. Unfortunately, most lifters aren’t training with their two bottom bases in mind. That’s a big mistake.
Rather than looking down on them, let’s put the feet on the perspective pedestal they deserve. We’ll examine their impact on leg strength, learn how to position them for performance, and discuss a few basic foot maintenance skills. After procuring this foot-fact composition, you’ll understand why everything starts from the floor.
FOCUS ON THE FEET
Besides providing the legs with locomotive platforms, the feet play an integral role in strong movement. Sure, most folks think about where they place their feet while lifting, but they don’t often consider their interaction with the rest of the body during exercise. The feet, with their influential muscular contractions, set the tone for the rest of the body, and when their strength is harnessed, the body benefits.
Each foot houses 26 bones—a quarter of the bones in the human body. The metatarsals are the bones that give the foot its long, slender shape; between these bones are muscles which help control foot movement and stability. When the middle of the foot strikes the ground, the bones in the foot spread, causing the muscles between them to automatically contract.
As the foot muscles contract when your foot strikes the ground, a contraction cascade ensues: The leg muscles of the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, calves) reflexively, automatically contract, creating a strong, stable connection between the legs and the ground. This stable connection is the brain’s signal for strength. The nervous system sends the muscles more juice when the feet—and their subsequent reflexive contractions—send the message that it’s safe. Reflexive recruitment from the feet up endorses leg strength ; strong feet promote strong legs.