Foot and ankle strength

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Eric Damon Rapier, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I practice my kicks low to work on the foot position. If I want to practice kicking with the ball of my feet, I'll kick the ground, or I'll do my kicks at 6", so the only factor that really gets considered is my foot.
     
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  2. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Just keep training. They will eventually become conditioned according to what you do. There's really no real way to speed that process up. If your exercises don't mimic how you use your feet and ankles in your class then any extra conditioning and work is just going to be a waist of time and effort. Alot is about technique and strengthening things in the correct places.

    Martial arts is often a total body movement thing, so it's not just your ankles or your foot handling the weight, it's other things to working together to support that weight. Don't think of it as Isolating muscle building. Doing it that won't give you the results that you want.
     
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  3. Eric Damon Rapier

    Eric Damon Rapier Orange Belt

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    That is enlightening. I totally feel what you're saying. One total movement for any movement. Although that's easier said than done for me. ‍♂️
     
  4. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    This posture can help you to develop strong "toes push kick".
    [​IMG]

     
  5. Eric Damon Rapier

    Eric Damon Rapier Orange Belt

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    Oh boy...that's gonna take some work
     
  6. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    Do it with your back against a wall, to start of with
     
  7. Eric Damon Rapier

    Eric Damon Rapier Orange Belt

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    Ah.....that's a lot more manageable. Thank you
     
  8. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Disagree on that...Jake's instructor has him doing ankle exercises to build up some stability in his ankles now.

    You can do exercises that will help develop the small muscles that help strengthen and stabilize the joints....but you are right that training karate will strengthen those same muscles.
     
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  9. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    I don't really agree with this. I do agree that you need to keep training and practicing the movements that you use in your art if you want to be good at them. I completely disagree when you say that there's no way to speed up that up. High quality strength training focused primarily on big compound movements will make a huge difference in overall strength for almost anyone who isn't already doing it. Properly done weighted calf raise will improve the strength of the lower leg and feet much faster and to a greater extent than just doing body weight movements from your art alone. You can't skip training in your art if you want to be good but it isn't the most effective way to get stronger for your art.

    I've trained a lot of martial artists in my gym and I've learned at least two things from it; 1) most (all?) of them aren't very strong if they aren't already lifting weights somewhere else 2) once they've been lifting for even a short time they all tell me how much easier it is to do their art.
     
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  10. Eric Damon Rapier

    Eric Damon Rapier Orange Belt

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    Good info
     
  11. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    The peroneal muscles in the foot and ankle help stabilize the ankle and keeps your ankle from "rolling".

    Elastic bands exercises, training loose sand, on a round surface, etc help strengthen this stabilizing muscle.
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I haven't read all of the responses yet, so some of this might be repeating others.

    Given your post about seiza, I'm going to assume some common remediation is in order for the foot and lower leg. Here are some things I've found help folks. They are in no particular order, and are just the first few that come to mind:
    • Get out of your shoes more. Most Americans wear shoes nearly all the time, and that limits some of the work the foot muscles have to do. Some shoes also stabilize you, and limit the work of the balancing muscles in the lower leg. So start by walking around more without shoes. If you have a beach nearby, walk in soft sand.
    • Get on some mats, if possible. Walking on softer surfaces like mats makes your balancing muscles work harder. Much of your balance adjustment is made by muscles essentially using the edges of the foot to push on the ground as an adjustment. Soft surfaces give when those muscles push (okay, muscles actually pull, but you know what I mean), making them work harder to get the same result. The give of the surface - like with the soft sand - will also cause the foot to shift more, giving those muscles and joints more to do.
    • When in sand or on mats, use your feet differently. Try "grabbing" the ground when you walk, to get the toes engaged more. On some steps, try resisting the bend in your toe at the end of the step. This is more effective on these soft surfaces, though you can also practice this inside comfy shoes while walking - it seems less effective on hard ground with bare feet.
    • Stand on one leg for a timed interval. This is common in physical therapy. Start with a hard floor - try with and without the shoe. Get to where you can stand easily for more than 30 seconds on each leg, then switch to something softer (mats, an old sofa cushion, whatever). Again, try with and without a shoe, and keep practicing until you can easily stand for a minute on either leg both with and without a shoe (without will generally be the harder one, I'm told).
    Of course, anything that introduces instability to the stance will cause you to build strength in those muscles, so play with it a bit. When you're doing anything with balance, start with having something nearby to grab, but keep your hand hovering over it (not touching), so your muscles have to do the work.

    You can also do small exercises while standing around. Do heel lifts (just standing up on your toes repeatedly). Do calf stretches. Wobble a bit on your ankles when riding the elevator (this will almost guarantee nobody engages you in that awkward small talk).
     
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  13. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Only if the movement is the same as the movement that you are trying to get strong in. If you don't train the movement then you won't have strength in that movement. I'm assuming the OP wants to get strong in martial arts movement, so that what you have to do a lot of in order to be strong in it.

    One leg stance training had a super impact on everything that is used to stabilize a person. The problem that I see is that the first thing people think of when it comes to building strong ankles and feet is that the first thing that comes to mind is "making muscle stronger" strengthening the joint, ligament, and tendons is totally ignored. Training the actual movement that the person wants to be strong in is totally ignored as as a result they will get stronger in other areas but not where they were trying to improve.

    A person can do this exercise all day for 20 years and still have incredible weakness with the footwork and ankle strength required for martial arts


    These moves are closer to the movement's in martial arts so training this will give you more stability and strength for this type of movement.


    If you had to choose one exercise method to get stronger footwork and ankles for martial arts, which one would you take?
     
  14. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    1. This isn't always true. Do this exercise and you feel smaller muscles working as a result of smaller movements that are involved with stabilizing You can actually see it at work as his leg begins to shake. There is an assumption that it's always the big muscles that make a person stronger and that's that true for certain movements.


    2. A martial arts form is a High Quality Strength exercise that has big compound movements. Which Is why I said just do train the forms in the system. That way you are training the exactly the right movements, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and balance needed to be strong in that form. And you get the extra benefit of being good at doing the form


    It's the same with karate forms as well. The more advanced you get the more movement you have in the forms and the longer the forms are. Beginner forms prepare and slowly conditions the parts that you need to have strengthen. Why am I the only one that knows this?
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  15. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    The peroneal muscle helps stabilize the ankle. Adding focused exercises on that small muscle will strengthen it and help it from rolling and will give you better balance and stability.

    It doesnt matter how you strengthen it.
     
  16. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    It does matter how you strengthen it because stability isn't only about that muscles. There are numerous muscles involved in balance and stability which is why I showed the video of the guy standing on one leg.

    Western understanding is that you can always isolate a muscle to make things better. Eastern perspective is that when we move, we don't just use one muscle. When we balance, we don't just use one muscle or one thing to balance.

    Stand like this. You can place your hands how ever you want so long as you hold on to anything. If you have decent balance this this shouldn't be difficult. You shouldn't wobble much. First try lift your leg into this position slowly and then try to lift it up faster into this pose. What muscles were working to help you keep balance and stability? Was it just the one muscle you state or was there a lot more going on? What happens with your stability and your balance. Now put both feet on the ground and close both of your eyes completely, now stand on one leg. Was it easier or more difficult. Open your eyes and stand on one leg and have someone push you slightly, but not enough to move you. Close your eyes and do the same thing. What happens.

    upload_2019-9-7_21-22-19.jpeg
     
  17. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    That's actually the whole point to big compound movements. They engage pretty much every muscle in the chain including the small ones. That's especially true if you lift heavy and to failure or close to failure. I can get very effective results for the lower leg from a big movement like leg press (on a quality machine) or slightly less effective results from free weight squats. If I really want to hit the lower leg and foot though, it's hard to beat the weighted calf raise.

    To address the question posed in this thread specifically, when I do weighted calf raise with sufficient resistance every muscle in my lower legs and feet will be completely exhausted. I admit calf raise is not a particularly big, nor compound movement but if you really want to get everything from the knee down it's very hard to beat.
    I think this may be the big point about which we disagree. In my opinion and experience a martial arts form is a barely adequate quality strength exercise that has big compound movements. I think there are real benefits to doing forms and I'm not disagreeing that if you practice them thoughtfully you will get real results. I just believe that the benefits you're primarily going to get are things like a better brain/body connection, better coordination, increased sublimation of the movements of your techniques, and perhaps a greater understanding of the techniques - basically different forms of motor learning and skills acquisition.

    If it's all you do, you'll also likely get stronger from doing the forms, up to a point. Once you reach a sufficient level of strength to perform the form adequately you will stop seeing much improvement in strength, though you will continue to increase in skill and ability to perform the movements cleanly and properly. It will also take a lot longer to develop that strength than if you were to do 10-20 minutes a week of really focused resistance training along with it.
    I agree with much of this, it's a great way to increase skill but it's a very inefficient way to build strength. It's great if you've got limited equipment and time and a whole class full of people to train that aren't going to do any strength training on their own time. It's not the fastest way to develop a foundation of strength to be effective at your art, just a workable way to do it.

    Over all what I'm saying is, I see no reason not to add some regular resistance training to the mix if you're serious about your martial art. In my experience, if you incorporate a quality resistance training routine you will see much faster increases in strength and greater over all levels of strength (for all muscles, large and small) than if you do forms, martial arts drills, sparring and body weight exercises exclusively. You will be capable of performing the forms and techniques of your style sooner because you will develop the necessary strength more quickly. In the long run you will be much stronger than the majority of your opponents who do not do resistance training. It doesn't have to take much time, it isn't going to have any negative impact on your martial arts training, so why not do it?
     
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  18. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I think you are right. When I think of forms I think of my forms and how Jow Ga students strain them. We train Power, Resistance, Speed, Technique, and combination of P-S-T. Jow Ga forms also have more movement than some other systems. I know this form and it's really difficult physically, It's long but not the longest form.


    So right off the back there could be a different physical level in the training.

    When this happen in Jow Ga, the student gets a new form and the muscles are worked a different way. When the first form gets easy, then you would get a new one which is harder, when that gets easy then you get another one that harder than 2nd form. Each form pushes you beyond your limits. In other words the second form makes the first form easier and makes it possible to get beyond that limit that you speak of.
     
  19. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Just to clarify, when I'm talking about stability I am talking about joint stability....not balance.

    The peroneals stabilize the joint from inversion. When you strengthen the peroneals it creates more stability in the joint and stability in the joints function.

    The tibialis stabilize the joint from eversion. When you strengthen the tibialis it creates more stability in the joint and the joints function.

    By strengthening these stabilizers you gain joint stability and functional stability regardless of how they are strengthened. The increase in joint and functional stability also improves balance some as well.

    My sons instructor went over this with us a few weeks ago due to Jake having some ankle pain.
     
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  20. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    Oh ok - I understand the angle you are viewing it from now. You are viewing it from a structural perspective. I was viewing it as a use perspective in the context of martial arts movement. Sort of like rehab exercises that we do to strengthen things so we an do the martial arts things that strengthen things. For example, the exercises that I do to rehab my back structure so that I can actually do the martial arts exorcises that help build up the back. If my joint structure is compromised then I'll have trouble doing the other stuff.

    This is more along the lines of where I was viewing and not stability of a specific joint structure.




    Thanks for clearing that up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
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