How Does Foot Strength Improve Vertical Jump?

As we were developing the AFX, we were getting great feedback from the rehab community, but were intrigued by its potential to improve athletic performance. We knew that foot strength was critical to jumping performance because several research studies had proven it.

We knew that athletes who competed barefoot (e.g. beach volleyball players) saw big increases in their vertical jump, and we knew that the AFX could do the job, but we wanted proof.

Last year we commissioned a 12-week, independent research study to see if the AFX could improve performance in basketball players from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University men’s varsity teams during their regular season (Fall 2008).

The results of the trial highlight the fact that improved foot and ankle strength and power can have dramatic effects on vertical jump, agility, and dynamic balance, in athletes of all levels.

By increasing the strength of the muscles of the foot, and the stability of the ankle joint, the forces generated by the larger muscles of the upper and lower legs can be more efficiently transferred to the ground, resulting in improved jumping ability. Conversely, weak feet and unstable ankle joints will result in a waste of force. Strong legs combined with weak feet is like “trying to shoot a cannon from a canoe” (a great analogy that we got from Carmen Bott, a strength and conditioning specialist from Human Motion in Vancouver, BC).

Increased strength of the intrinsic muscles of the foot result in a more rigid surface, and increased strength of the tendons surrounding the ankle joint result in a more stable joint, resulting in improved force transfer to the ground. So you want ‘hops’? Strengthen your feet!

~ Rick Hall, M.Sc.

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