The feet are crucial in running, as they absorb impacts and distribute loads to the body.
The towel test assesses toe strength.
Toe strength affects load distribution and overall foot function.
The first part of the body that comes to mind when we think of running is the legs. This is a given, because the effort we make is felt mostly there. In fact, they are the ones who are sore after a long workout.
If you think about it a few more seconds, however, you will realize that without feet we literally could not run. The feet are in fact the first point of contact between our bodies and the road, and above all, they are extraordinary and highly refined mechanical objects that, thanks to their twenty-six bones , are able to cushion the impact with the ground and distribute the resulting load toward the legs and pelvis. Incredible work for such a dimensionally limited part of our body, even more extraordinary when you think that a man weighing 70 kg during running actually dumps 3 to 5 times his body weight on it, that is, 210 to 350 kg.
Can you tell me now what exercises you do to make your feet stronger and make it easier for them when they have to absorb these immense efforts? Not many, if any.
How to figure out how much strength you have, and how to increase it
You will have understood what we are getting at: first to assess whether you have enough strength and, if necessary, to increase it.
To understand this, just do a simple exercise:
- Sit on a chair and spread a towel under your feet, preferably the heavier type, such as beach towels. The supporting surface should be as smooth as possible, so do not lay it on a carpet or rug because they would cause friction, making the test less accurate and especially unnecessarily tiring
- Then rest the entire sole of the foot and with the help of just your fingers, begin to pull it toward you by curling it, just as you would with one hand.
- Finally, try to bring the opposite edge as close to you as possible.
The test is successful if you succeed. In case you struggle too much or can’t do it, go ahead and practice the exercise to strengthen the muscles in the sole of your foot. How is it done? Exactly the same as the test, but by repeating it at least 5 times. Obviously by foot.
The goal of this test is to assess the function of your feet, focusing especially on the strength of your toes, partly because they are primarily responsible for the accuracy and effectiveness with which loads are then distributed to the rest of your body.
In the very short video below you can see how simple it is to do this.