Utilizing Shortfoot (Arch Collapse, pt 2)

In part one of this series, we focused on HOW to create an arch or shortfoot position.

Here’s how you can pattern it into your motor subconscious:

1.  Single Leg Balance Sequence

Create shortfoot and hold throughout the duration.

                                                                                   a.   look left, right
                                                                                  b.  look up, down
                                                                                                             c.  shift up foot out and close eyes

For those of you who struggle with looking left/right while turning the neck, 
keep the head still and just move the eyes.  (Same with up/down)

2.  Inversion with Toes Pointed and Flexed

When seated and propping one foot onto the opposite knee, inversion is trying to look at the sole of your foot.  You rotate the big toe away from you and the pinky towards.

The two main inverters of the foot are the posterior tibialis tendon, which wraps below the ankle:

photo credit: hivehealthmedia.com
The post tib’s main job is inversion. 
..And the anterior tibialis tendon, which sits above the ankle:
photo credit: studydroid.com
The anterior tib is involved in a mutitude of things.
Because the anterior tib (AT) is heavily involved in dorsiflexion (or the toes up position we generally live and bear weight in), it tends to be a lot stronger and thicker than the posterior tib (PT).  If the AT and PT were both asked to do the same job, the AT would likely take over because of it’s size and capability.  To isolate the PT, point the toes, and then invert the foot.
That shadowy tendon highlighted by the green arrow is the post tib.
You want this guy to pop up to ensure it’s active.
Here’s the same movement in toes up position, adding an isometric contraction.
(If I wasn’t holding the camera I’d lock out the ankle as well to minimize its input).
See that monstrous tendon popping up between the top of the foot and the ankle?
That’s the anterior tib.
He comes alive when we pull our toes up and makes inversion much easier.
If you have trouble finding the post tib in plantarflexion (toes pointed), start here.

3. Coordinating Shortfoot with Concentric (or “up”/”work”) Phases of Movement

Lastly, the glutes should contract as your foot contracts.  Prime this neurologically by solidifying shortfoot as you return to standing.  As much as we’re trying to cement our foundation for stability, the foot also needs to be mobile for shock absorption and agility.  Practice both by relaxing it to load (eccentric) and stiffening it to unload (concentric).

A single leg squat example:

You can also use this technique in deadlifts (single leg or otherwise), lateral lunges, step ups etc.


  • Shortfoot can be used to stabilize the body from the ground up
  • Manipulate the feet and eyes to give variability to balance training
  • If you can find and make your posterior tibialis tendon pop out, you’ve probably got inversion right
  • Toes up inversion is easier than toes pointed inversion
  • Coordinate shortfoot positioning with power phases of a movement to cement co-contraction with the glutes and stabilize the torso
  • The most effective stability allows itself to be turned “on” and “off”
  • Use these to stimulate, not fatigue (30 – 60s total)
NOTE: Much of this was gleamed from the work of Dr. Emily Splichal.  

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