Our feet — or more specifically our toe strength — plays an important role in balance, posture and movement. One of the easiest and most effective ways to get the client connected to their foundation is through an exercise called forward lean. This postural reflex activates the toe flexors which act like an anchor into the ground creating foot and posture stability. This exercise is perfect at the start of a session, before a balance workout — or even first thing in the morning.
Performing the Forward Lean
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Set your base by finding your foot tripod and spreading your toes wide. With your arms by your side, stand tall and imagine you are stiff as a board. Staying stiff as a board, slightly lean your body forward. Hold for 2 seconds then return to a vertical position. Each time you lean forward notice how your toes naturally want to push into the ground — or anchor. Repeat 5-8 times.
Progres with the Breath
To fully integrate the forward lean, find the coordination between the exhalation on the forward lean and the inhalation upon the return. The coordination between toe contraction and exhalation of the breath is integrating the Deep Front Fascial Line. Eventually you want to be able to find the integration between toe flexor strength and the breath, without leaning the body forward.
Dr Emily Splichal, Functional Podiatrist and Human Movement Specialist, is the Founder of EBFA Global, Creator of the Barefoot Training Specialist® Certification, Author of Barefoot Strong and CEO/Founder of Naboso Technology. With over 23 years in the fitness industry, Dr Splichal has dedicated her medical career towards studying postural alignment and human movement as it relates to barefoot science, foot to core integration and sensory integration.