Shoes off!?!?!? Part 1

by Sean St. Onge


"Shoes off....please."

Some of you may think this is my catch phrase. Ok confession time...I have a foot fetish...



Ok not true.

I really aspire to be the next great shoe salesman like Al Bundy!!!


Also not true.

I have used those words often when assessing someone's squat, deadlift, swing, hip hinge, you name it pattern. I look at people's feet and try to play detective. I’m not Dick Tracy, yet looking at someone’s feet can prove to be a great assessment evaluation and it will allow a coach or trainer to check things out from the roots up.

I look as a means to:

  • find out what their gait looks like 
  • how much power is generated from the feet when performing movements with resistance
  • how their feet look in single leg stance for balance
  • possible compensations

All of these things can tell us a lot about:

  • how you walk
  • how you run, sprint, and jog
  • your foot “posture,“ leading to possible anomalies for other ailing body parts
  • astrological sign
  • the day of the week you were born
  • the kind of sandwiches and tacos you prefer

Podiatry is obviously not in the scope of practice for a trainer as to the extent of prescribing creams, surgical consultations, manual therapy, or arches or insteps for your shoes. By the way..


Hahahahaha! Just a little joke for the best comedian in ever…

Yet the knowledge of the bones, musculature, and the movements that they perform definitely fall into our scope of practice and it would be irresponsible of us to not take a peek.

When there is pain in the knee, I will not look to the site of pain. I will often inquire about your feet. As trainers, we tend to use the "joint by joint approach." If there is pain in a specific area, we will look elsewhere away from where there is pain to where the cause may be. By using this approach we can test and single out any possible culprits. Same goes for all of the corresponding musculature when looking at something like knee pain. We would inquire about one's lower extremity, particularly inner thighs, calves, shins, and the dreaded Achilles heel area. All of those roads, to me, lead to the Midas that is your feet. Think about it, your feet act as receptors taking in loads of information with every step you take. They also get stuffed into smelly sneakers, awful boat shoes, and worse, high heels (you know who you are...hang your heads in shame.) Try wearing shoes on your hands and typing up your next TPS report for Lumbergh! See how far you get, M’kay?


Look, with all this "traffic" of receptors, nerves, muscles, etc. going on, based on how some people walk, carry themselves- active lifestyle, sedentary lifestyle, or do not utilize their feet properly- your feet can get all "gummed up." Your feet can also, like many other body parts, be the source of your muscle compensation when you are "cheating" your way through an exercise.

Soft tissue/self muscular release techniques can help at times. Rolling a lacrosse ball on the arch and ball of your foot can help relax, for a better term, the adhesion area or trigger points. Yet remember, like most soft tissue work, going slower over said trigger points will work better for milling that adhesion out. When there is an adhesion in a muscle group it can often lead to it being almost “turned off,” allowing other muscle groups to take over, thus the compensation. When certain muscle groups become over taxed with jobs they are not normally asked to perform, this is where an injury can occur.

Back to your feet…the safest bet is for you to take a preventative approach. Start soft tissue/SMR at your feet and work from “the roots up." Use a softball or lacrosse ball at the arch and ball of your foot, roll out your shins (anterior and posterior tibialis), use a lacrosse ball on your calves (gastrocnemius).  Utilizing soft tissue/SMR for yourselves can mean the difference of an O.K. set of squats where you are glad to move on to your next exercise, or lead to a great set leaving you wistful for a 6th set instead of just a humble 4 or 5 on those heavy lifting days! (So that would probably only be me being wistful, but hey!) 

And a resounding YES, can be answered that “everything is connected” so it would, again, only behoove you to be more preventative and proactive in mid set, mid exercise, mid training session! I feel I have mentioned this before…ahh ya here is the link:


Below are some other links on specific foot exercises that Colin suggests for if you are having foot issues like higher arches, shin splints, and foot cramping.


And here is another video link from Kerry explaining what Plantar Fasciitis is and what to do when and if it crops up.


That is all for now…