Whether it’s a squat, lunge, jumping, running or walking, a stable foot is required for an efficient and powerful movement base for the rest of the body. It is for this reason that we should dedicate training to the foot in order to optimize our movement.

The implications of foot stability is paramount for the squat. When the ankle, knees and hips go outwards (as in a knees out cue on a squat, varus), the foot arch is increased, and when the opposite happens as the hips, knees and ankle fall in (as in a faulty squat pattern where knees cave in, valgus), the foot arch is collapsed and the foot is flat.


Very often I see people in the gym having trouble with their squat and it may simply be because their foot lacks control and the person cannot create the stability required for a squat pattern. Why is that?

Think back to when you started wearing shoes. How young were you and how often were your feet covered up? Do  you currently walk barefoot at all or are you always in socks,slippers or shoes majority of the day? How do you think that affects your foot awareness and function? toddler-squat

I want you to do the following movements as a test. Luckily , the “tests” are also the exercises themselves.


  • 01Take off your shoes and socks (i bet you’re wearing them right now). Follow my lead. No leg shaving necessary.
  • Sit on a chair at 90 degrees Hip Flexion, Knee flexion and Foot is flat on the ground.


TEST 1. Shorten that foot!  || Exercise 1. Short Foot Exercise


Starting position


Shorten that foot. Toes stay flat, don’t crunch them up.









Spread your toes and place them firmly on the ground. Shorten your foot by drawing the ball of your big toe towards your heel without the heel or the ball lifting off the ground. Make sure you don’t curl your toes as you do this. Hold for 10s and let cramp city begin.


TEST  2. Pick up that big toe || Exercise 2. Big toe extension


Big Toe Extension

Start as above. Lift the big toe off the ground as high as you can. Make sure the rest of the toes, the heel and the ball of the foot maintain contact to the ground. Hold strong for 10s..

Some people may not even have the ability to lift off the big toe. Give tactile feedback if you have trouble. Lift  it up in that position and help it in that position so you are aware. After that, you can let go and  see if you can hold that position.



TEST 3. Drive that big toe down and keep the  others up || Exercise 3. Big toe flexion



Big Toe Flexion

Start as in exercise one. Lift off all the toes off the ground. From here, you want to flex the big toe down towards the ground while maintaining extension of the other toes.

Drive the big toe into the ground without crunching the toes. Hold strong for 10s and enjoy the cramps.




If you can’t do the above with  ease, keep working on it and you’ll reap the benefits of a stable base for your squat and other lifts. Foot cramps may be a thing of the past after mastering these, and perhaps you may even find that you can ditch your orthotics!

If you can do all those with pretty good control, congratulations! Try to progress them. Do it in more dorsiflexion angle, a single leg stance, or at the bottom of a body weight squat. For the short foot exercise, try doing it in a single leg deadlift or a single leg squat.

There’s always room for improvement! Next time, we’ll talk about getting that ankle dorsiflexion better and move on from propping your foot up on a plate to get deeper squats.


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