The Integrated Foot Shift: Enhancing Posterior Chain Training for Improved Human Movement
Introduction: Welcome to Part Four of the Posterior Chain Series, where we delve into the concept of the integrated foot shift as a valuable training method. Throughout this nine-part series, we explore the integration of various training techniques to address posterior chain issues and optimize movement patterns, particularly in activities like walking and running. In Part Three, we discussed the angular shank loading model, and now we move on to the integrated foot shift.
Understanding the Integrated Foot Shift: The integrated foot shift is a technique that can be applied to all angular shank positions during training. It complements the angular shank loading model by emphasizing the importance of foot positioning and movement patterns. While this approach is not specifically tailored to bodybuilders or powerlifters, it greatly benefits raw running athletes, field sport athletes, and individuals seeking optimal human movement patterns.
Foot Roll and Activation of the Hamstrings: During slow lifting exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, the integrated foot shift technique begins with the majority of the load on the left foot at the seven o’clock position. As the lift progresses, the force shifts through the foot, engaging the big toe while squeezing it. This foot roll and shift activate different parts of the hamstring, promoting comprehensive hamstring training compared to isolated exercises that target specific areas.
Variations in Foot Position: While performing the integrated foot shift, athletes may choose to rise up on their toes depending on the lift and individual preferences. Some lifts may warrant toe elevation, while others may not require it. The decision ultimately lies with the athlete and their training program. The key is to understand the concept and incorporate it into training sessions to enhance athletic performance.
Walking, Sprinting, and the Integrated Foot Shift: The integrated foot shift is not limited to lifting exercises but extends to activities like walking and sprinting. Walking, in particular, involves a foot roll similar to the integrated foot shift. By mimicking this movement during training, athletes can reinforce proper foot mechanics and enhance their walking and running efficiency. It also prepares them for sprinting, where the foot rolls from the outside to the inside, engaging the big toe like in the integrated foot shift.
Application in Various Lifts: The integrated foot shift can be effectively applied to different lifts, including exercises where the feet remain on the ground, such as glute ham raises. During these lifts, the foot should roll through the full range of motion, emphasizing the shift to the big toe. Regardless of whether the exercise is closed or open chain, the integrated foot roll should be present, activating various parts of the hamstrings and promoting functional movement patterns.
Speed and Foot Stroke Length: The speed at which the integrated foot shift is performed can vary depending on the training phase. During longer lifts like isometrics and eccentrics (loading zones 13-8 in the Triphasic model), a slower and controlled foot roll is suitable. Conversely, in faster phases such as power or peaking (loading zones 1-7), the foot stroke may be shorter and quicker, replicating the demands of sports movements. Athletes should progress gradually to achieve the level of speed and aggression seen in high-performance eccentric actions.
The Integration of Concepts: The integrated foot shift is just one part of a comprehensive posterior chain training approach. Other concepts, including performance cycling, functional transfer complexes, and the angular shank loading model, work together to optimize posterior chain development. While some elements may not directly relate to the thoracic tuck method, they collectively contribute to training the posterior chain effectively, preventing hamstring issues, and avoiding quad dominance.
Conclusion: Part Four of the Posterior Chain Series has explored the integrated foot shift as a key component in training for improved human movement. By understanding and implementing this technique, athletes can enhance their posterior chain development, optimize movement patterns, and reduce the risk of hamstring-related problems. As trainers and coaches, incorporating the integrated foot shift, along with other related concepts, into training programs will contribute to the overall success and performance of athletes.