Stronger Feet, Better Core & More

Tamra L. Christiansen, Director of Fitness and Wellness

We all want better balance and a stronger core, right? Having a strong core helps us in everything from sports to simply walking. It helps us balance and keeps our back safe. We all know the basics to getting to those goals, or do we? Probably. I venture to say that you may not know that your feet are the key to gaining deep core strength and connection to brain pathways.

We have had great success in our Stronger Feet, Better Core & More! workshop. This workshop educates our members on the importance of barefoot training. Many have minimally strengthened feet within maximally supportive shoes. While there is nothing wrong with having good support in your shoes, it is imperative that your feet are flexible and strong. We strengthen our bodies from our calves to our shoulders, why not strengthen our feet? Your feet support you through all you do every day. This workshop has taught our members to love their feet by gaining strength, balance and deep core activation.

Kelly Vizzone and I were intrigued by Dr. Emily Splichal’s seminar: Barefoot Strong. She is a functional podiatrist from New York City and holds a master’s degree in human movement. She had an amazing presentation and educational experience about the neural connections between the feet and the deep core. We were so impressed that we exchanged a couple of our sessions to attend her other offerings. Dr. Splichal has a passion that lit ours to educate others about releasing their feet.

A few amazing facts about your feet: 

  The plantar fascia has more nerve endings and receptors than the rest of the fascia in the entire body. Doing the work for your feet helps prevent plantar fasciitis.

  We have about 6,000 nerve endings in each foot (this is why it is so very painful when we stub a toe!).

  There is a distinct and powerful connection between the foot stabilizers and the deep core stabilizers (your pelvic floor, deep rotators of the hip and the deep core muscles).

  The Short Foot exercise strengthens the big toe tendon that connects to the calf and when you activate this, the muscles along the back of your leg contract.

  With bare foot strength, you can control the body’s balance more effectively. When the foot strikes the ground, the body can better know how to maneuver from there: what surface it feels, if muscles need to contract to balance the body, etc. 

  A strong foot creates a strong ankle and that continues all the way up the body.

  Creating space between the toes allows for a wider platform and, in turn, better balance.

  The more “awakened” the nerves are in the feet, the more “awakened” our minds are. You will have better control and awareness of where you are walking, stepping, etc., with quicker reactions to resist falls.

You are probably thinking, “So, are you asking us to run around barefoot and wear all the ugly bare foot shoes?” Not at all! But you can if you want stronger feet and less fashion (wink). We teach this workshop to immediately activate the nerves in your feet, so your body is more aware of how to navigate the world around you. The more you awaken your feet, the more neurons light up in your brain, the more awareness and connection you have. That is encouraging! There is so much talk about what kills brain cells, right? Let’s light some up to feel focused and better balanced.

In the Stronger Feet, Better Core and More! workshop, you receive a Neuro Ball, which has little “knobs” that wake up the foot. We also have balance boards and mats that have these tactile knobs. We compare your balance before waking the nerves in your feet and after. It is amazing how connected the body is and how strength in your feet can help in how you swing your golf club with more balance and control.

Please check the Group Exercise Calendar for upcoming workshops.

Tamra Christiansen is the Fitness and Wellness Director at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. She can be reached at and 830.336.9184.

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