You Can Learn A Lot From Your Toes As You Swim


Hi folks,

We stuff our feet into shoes and then wonder why we can’t control our toes when we need to, and more importantly we ignore all the information that they can gather because we just don’t think about our toes unless they hurt. About 40 years ago I was in a bar in England, and there at the counter was a man with no arms drinking a beer that he held in his feet. I remember clearly how this remarkable and interesting man held the glass with toes as dexterous as my fingers. Never forgot that, yet I neglected my toes for years. About five years ago I started to study Feldenkrais, and more recently Continuum, both of which disciplines seem to pay particular attention to toes. You contact the earth through your feet, and many improvements in biomechanics can be achieved by heightening your toe awareness.

A while ago I wrote a blog post about the use of boundary layer effects to improve your downhill bike time by reducing drag via altered body position, using temperature sensation in the skin on your elbows and elsewhere to detect regions of resistance to airflow. All of the attention paid to my toes in a recent Continuum lesson, triggered by an observation of poor foot mechanics in the water by my local swim coach, Rick Fee, got me to thinking about my toes and their interactions with the water. So about a week ago I started to study toe-water relationships as I swam with the pull boy, and boy there is loads of information coming through these seemingly remote digits. The effects are detected more via pressure than temperature. If your legs drop you can immediately feel the water pushing on your toes. If you snake through the water due to imperfect upper body motion during the power and recovery arm strokes, you immediately sense your toes swinging back and forth laterally. If your feet spread or otherwise wander your toes come alive with a range of sensations, giving you a chance to put things right.

FitOldDog’s advice is that you give your toes a chance to participate in your training and you won’t be disappointed.

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.