Posture: Better Feet for Better Knees
We are going to work from the ground up to improve your posture.
Having a solid foundation is key. The way you bear your weight on your feet directly influences the amount of stress on your knees and everything else above that.
For this exercise you will need to be wearing a pair of shorts or roll your pant legs up above your knees. You’ll also need to be bare foot.
· Stand in front of a mirror. Look at your knees, lower leg and feet. Don’t try to change anything. Just stand however feels natural.
· Look at your feet. Are they both in the same position? Are they pointing forward or turned out to the side? Are your toes scrunched together or splayed out wide? Are they bent gripping the floor or flat?
· Look at your knees. Image there is a laser beam pointing out from the very center of your knee cap. What direction is that beam pointing? Ideally it would be pointing straight ahead, but for a lot of people this won’t be the case. Bend your knees a few times and pay attention to what that feels like.
Now we are going to find a neutral position.
1. Move your feet so that they are both pointing forward, hip width apart.
2. Keeping both feet pointing forward, play with the weight on just your right foot. Allow the weight to roll to the outside of your foot. Then roll the weight to the inside of your foot. Back and forth. As you do this, watch your knee and see how this may change the direction your kneecap and its laser beam is pointing. If you’re having trouble imagining this or not sure what you’re looking for, try placing your index finger on top of the center of your knee and watch which way it points.
3. Once you’ve experimented with that, try to find the spot where you bear weight on your foot that causes the laser beam on your knee to point straight ahead. You’re aiming for that laser beam or your index finger to be pointing over the 1st and 2nd toe. This is neutral. If this position feels weird for you, like you’re too far on the outside of your foot, this indicates you likely over pronate your foot a lot of the time.
4. Keeping your right foot bearing weight like this, try the same experiment on the left.
5. Now you should have both feet and both knees pointing forward and in a neutral position. Have the position of your toes change from your initial observations?
Bend your knees a few times and see what this feels like.
This neutral position should put the least amount of stress possible on your knees.
If you were unable to make changes in the position of your knee by changing the way you bear your weight on your feet, your knee position may be influenced from above, your hips, rather than from below. I’ll address that in a later post.
The purpose of this exercise is not necessarily to fix your posture, but to recognize how far off you are from a neutral position. Most people will need to do some corrective exercises in order for this new neutral position to become their normal position. Continue to play with this over the next few days, and see if you can consciously make changes to get closer to this neutral position in your everyday life.
It’s important to know the position of your feet doesn’t just affect your knees. It also impacts everything up the chain: hips, low back, upper back, shoulders, neck and head. If you change something in one area, everything else will make small adjustments to allow or compensate for that change.