Foot Strengthening for Stability, Power, and Durability in Running by Natalie Miano

Natalie headshot

 Foot Injuries...

You hate ‘em right?!

 

 

 


I have a long history with foot injuries and while it’s always an arduous affair getting over any injury, it’s usually an eye-opening and educating experience learning all the ins and outs of it.

It just so happens that 10% of running injuries are related to the feet- which is really no surprise considering our feet are our first point of contact when we hit the ground and absorb the force of 2-4x our body weight with each strike.

Incorporating exercises, drills, and stretches to strengthen and stretch your feet will help you:

  • Improve your stride by increasing natural elasticity and allowing for quicker ground reaction. 
  • Improve your stability and control- good for technical running capabilities. 
  • Prevent overuse injuries caused by over-pronating or supinating while running. 
  • Help you develop tougher connective tissue and thus make your feet more durable

Since I’ve become a pseudo expert in foot strengthening, here’s a look at my favorite drills and techniques and how I’ve incorporated them into my routine:

Wake up - While lying in bed, I wake up my ankles with

  • 10x ea way foot circles
  • 10x plantarflexion to dorsiflexion

A.M. - While having coffee and getting ready for my run, I do

  • 10x Towel Pickups- scrunch your toes to grab a towel and pick up off the ground. 
  • 20x Toe Walking. 
  • Foot Roll Out- plantar tissue mobilization standing on pokey balls or tennis balls and holding at different areas of the feet. 
  • Seated Shin Stretch (Anterior Tib Stretch)- lower to your knees, sitting with the top of your feet on the ground and lower back to deepen the stretch between your anterior ankle joint and Tibialis Anterior muscle

Head out to run - During dynamic warmup I add

  • Foot Alphabet Spell- standing on one foot, spell the alphabet in lowercase letters with just the foot. 
  • Leg Alphabet Spell- standing on one foot, spell the alphabet in giant capital letters, reaching as far as you can in front, laterally, and behind you as you stabilize with your planted foot

Post-run - After I shower and while I’m doing school work with the kids I do

  • 6” Foam Ball Rollout- hit the Tibialis Anterior and calf muscles
  • 2 x 25 Single Leg Calf Raises 
  • 2 x 15 Foot Inversions using an exercise band 
  • 2 x 15 Towel Pickups 
  • 2 x 15 Short Foot Drill

 

 

Natalie is an Elite Obstacle Course Racer who “stepped in the OCR ring” just 8 weeks after giving birth to her second child. Initially, the goal was to sign up for a few races to get back in shape. Things got a little out of control, and she soon found herself contending with the upper-tier racers in the sport. She realized her potential in obstacle course racing went beyond her running abilities. Coming from a basketball background, her versatility is her best asset in OCR. In her career as an obstacle course racer, she has been on the podium 31 times and placed in the top ten for the Spartan US National Series for the past three years. 

Natalie is coached (in running) by her husband, Mark Batres.  His training can be found at https://www.mgb-racing.com.  



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