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July 16, 2013

Functional Feet

Happy Tuesday!

I had a busy day coaching clients yesterday, and as you can see in the video clip below, I got into the gym for my first deadlifting workout in a couple weeks.

Paul building a rock stack

Adding the last stone to a stack

I spend a lot of time coaching people both in person, and by Skype and phone, so when I can get outside and do my conditioning by lifting stones, I prefer that over being inside a gym.

Whenever I can do it safely, I do my lifting and gardening in bare feet. Exercising your body with bare feet is very important for maintaining a functional foot.

Feet are not designed to be boxed in shoes. Wearing shoes is like wearing a back or neck brace; the added support = reduced neuromuscular activity = diminishing functionality.

Our feet read the ground and respond very quickly to maintain our balance under all sorts of different conditions, from soggy, muddy ground, to cold frozen ground, to hot sand, to hard rocky surfaces, to jungle trails.

Most people are completely unaware of how their feet function to support their body, but if you stand on one leg and put a weight in the opposite hand and try moving it around your body, up overhead, out and down, you will be able to see the dynamic actions of the foot you are standing on in real time.

When it comes to keeping your balance while walking and moving around, your eyes, vestibular system (inner ear), and your upper cervical spine work with the feet to provide your brain a dynamic working perception of the environment.

When standing on your own feet unsupported, information about what you are doing and sensing around you floods your brain in what can be referred to as a “top down” flow of information; the information from your feet flows into the brain as “bottom up” stream. These two streams of information are integrated in the sensory-motor regions of the brain to produce efficient movement.

When we don’t get enough functional foot exercise, it is as though our feet get dumber and dumber. As the feet diminish in their dynamic ability to read the ground and send accurate information to the brain, the body is left unsupported.

While someone may feel they can lift heavy objects such as furniture, boxes, and other objects around a home or work space, if their feet can’t effectively respond to the task, injury is very likely.


In this short video above, I share my joy over having received a new model of 5 Fingers training shoes from Matthew Wallden –, C.H.E.K Institute Faculty and the UK distributor for 5 Fingers; Matthew has supplied me with all my 5 Fingers and for that I’m very grateful!

Previously, I was using the thinnest model of 5 fingers, which was nice in the gym, but my heavy lunging and reptilian crawling worked the soles right through.

The day Matthew arrived for our instructor meeting, I was about to switch to a different pair and he gave me a variety of new models to test.


The ones I’m wearing in the video are just a little thicker in the sole, but have some traction nubs, which I’ve found very helpful when lunging on an Olympic platform; once I get lifting chalk on the platform, it can become slippery enough that some traction is welcomed.

I was very impressed with the new model I’m wearing above. It’s light, flexible, and unlike most shoes, they don’t throw me into pronation (flattening the arches). They fit like a glove and the traction is excellent.

When lifting heavy, it’s important that you feet don’t slide around in your shoes. In the video above, I’m dong my final set of my workout with roughly 405 pounds.

I find getting in three heavy lifting sessions a week, even if they are short sessions, goes a LONG WAY to helping me keep my muscle mass up.

I’ll be 52 in August, and I can tell you for sure that once you pass about 45-47 years of age, even with good diet and lifestyle in place, muscle mass begins to dissolve before your eyes if you don’t convince your body to stay young!

When I lift heavy rocks and weights in the gym, I can feel the rise in anabolic hormones such as testosterone right away. The rise in the anabolic hormones from heavy lifting creates an immediate shift in one’s psychological state.

I can go from feeling cautious and the need to be careful with my body to feeling young and invincible in just a couple good heavy sets. The same hormones greatly enhance sexual energy and performance as well; just another good reason to convince your body-mind that it is not time to age yet.

Thanks again to Matthew Wallden for his generous support of my feet and body-mind. I hope you get some 5 Fingers and explore the joys of a functional foot!

Love and chi,
Paul Chek