Golf Ball Tricks 101. How barefoot runners make their feet stronger. And how you can, too.
I thank Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee-Sandler for teaching me barefoot running and the tricks for success at it!.
Myth: “You can’t strengthen your feet”.
Truth: Your feet have muscles, and muscles can be strengthened. Therefore, you CAN strengthen your feet.
If you can strengthen the muscles in your arms, you can strengthen the muscles in your feet. We often hear otherwise, even from some doctors. These are the same doctors who tell us not to go barefoot and that we need ever-more-expensive custom orthotics to address the issues of weak feet.
Let’s take a different look. Ergonomics experts explain that wearing lifting belts doesn’t help protect a person’s back. If one needs a belt to keep from throwing out one’s back, then the object being lifted is too heavy. The proper way to address the situation is to obtain assistance from another person or to use a lifting device. Continued use of the lifting belt discourages the back muscles from working and therefore causes the back to get weaker. Orthotics will do the same to the feet.
The world’s leading expert on barefoot running, Michael Sandler, has plenty to say about how he used to use orthotics, and how his plantar fasciitis got progressively worse as a result. But before we examine Michael’s lesson, let’s look at a simple trick he uses to help strengthen his feet.
Welcome to Golf ball Tricks 101. The course is free, and the only materials you need are a couple of golf balls. You only need one golf ball for this lesson, but get a second one as you will need it for Golf Ball Tricks 102.Runbare Company, co-author of Barefoot Running and Barefoot Walking (Random House publications, written with Michael Sandler). (Source: barefootdaves.com)
GOLF BALL TRICKS 101
You can sit or stand. This exercise works quite well sitting down, provided you are sitting so that your feet can easily be flat on the floor and where you won’t put adverse strain on your back in order to use your feet to pick things up.
Yes, you’re going to pick the ball up with your foot. You could start with a smaller ball, but in most cases, it is too easy to manipulate the ball and pick it up without a challenge.
Picking up the golf ball might be tough at first. But like any process, results improve with time and repetition. You will learn to use your feet as if they are hands, and your toes like fingers. You’re not going to build big, bulging muscles in your feet, but you’ll be developing muscle tone, coordination and with those two things, you’ll develop foundational strength.
The golf ball trick gets easier the more frequently you go barefoot. The foot will widen as a result of being un-shod. You’ll have a slightly-bigger footprint, and as a result, the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the foot can move more freely and with a wider range of motion. The golf ball trick is a good way to watch the progressive widening of the feet, as well as to develop strength.
What’s even better? It’s an exercise you can do while sitting and watching TV, surfing the web to read awesome blogs and other publications, or any other activity.
Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee-Sandler both use the golf ball trick to help keep their feet strong. Barefoot veterans can even buy special balls from Runbare Corp as they advance in their abilities with the golf ball trick. But a simple golf ball will work. If you look at Jessica’s toes at one of the couple’s
Check out Michael's recommended reading on podiatry.