Foot Function & Kinetic Transfer- a guest blog by Dr. Emily Splichal

I am excited to share that this week's post is written by educator, podiatrist, and founder of the Evidence Based Fitness Academy (EBFA) Dr. Emily Splichal.  Dr. Emily is also the creator of both the internationally recognized Barefoot Training Specialist Certification and the V-Core certification, a barefoot training workout that emphasizes functionally training the core with specific exercises.  To find out more about Dr. Emily or to check out some of her workshops, visit her website at  Enjoy!

Foot Function & Kinetic Transfer:

With foot fitness and barefoot training concepts at the forefront of athletic performance and fitness programming – how often do you assess your client’s feet?   

One of the most important roles the human foot plays in human movement is in the transfer or unloading of kinetic energy and power!   

The secret to the unleashing of this kinetic energy and power – is supination & pronation

When it comes to foot function – or shall I say dysfunction – over-pronation gets the most attention.  Excess mobility or lack of foot strength can lead to excess strain on tendons and ligaments of the foot, knees and hips, leading to over-recruitment of large global muscles to stabilize.   

Let’s take a moment and look at the opposite – lack of foot mobility or over-supination.

Can this be just as harmful?  

If a foot has a limited ability to pronate (or load) how does this impact kinetic transfer and power output?

To fully understand kinetic transfer in the foot, we must also understand that the foot is greatly influenced by the hips – and therefore we cannot address foot dysfunction without integrating hip mobilization!

How is the foot influenced by the hip?

Formed by the femur proximally, the movements of the hip that impact the foot the greatest are in the transverse plane – these are internal rotation & external rotation.   

These transverse plane movements of the hip are transferred distally through the tibia which will influence the foot in the frontal plane.   Tibial movements are able to influence the foot through its direct contact with the talus.  

Talar movements are then translated plantarly to the heel bone (calcaneus) and distally to the midfoot (navicular), causing the foot to either supinate or pronate.   When assessing for integrated foot mechanics, just remember that hip internal rotation is associated with foot pronation – and hip external rotation is associated with footsupination.  

Hip mobility and foot function

If you have a client or athlete with an over-supinated or inverted foot type, you will want to assess their ability to internally rotate the hips.   Often times, I find athletes with a history of stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and tendonitis have restricted hip mobility.   

If this is the case, hip mobilization is key to achieving optimal foot function, foot mobilization and kinetic transfer with each step!   I integrate piriformis, glutes, TFL, lateral hamstrings, and adductor stretces in all planes.