Your feet play a vital role in your musculoskeletal system. They absorb your footfalls, efficiently transform potential energy into movement, and help dictate the position of your knees, hips, and spine. Many long-term joint and soft tissue problems originate at the foundation of the body—in the feet—and that’s why healthy foot form and function is so incredibly important. This applies both to athletes and to anyone who simply enjoys being active and plans to do so for many years to come. The BlackBoard Basic foot training platform offers you the ability to free your feet and balance your body, and this blog post walks you through how to get the most from your BlackBoard foot training sessions.
Quick Foot Facts & BlackBoard Training Goals
Before we dive into the specific exercises you can perform with your BlackBoard Basic training platform, we wanted to briefly discuss the general makeup of feet. Your feet roughly consist of three main parts: The forefoot, the metatarsus (i.e., the midfoot), and the heel. Listed below are a few additional facts about the role each of these component parts plays in the overall function of your foot, as well as some important goals you can achieve with the BlackBoard Basic training platform:
Heel: A sound heel bone, or calcaneus, serves as a shock absorber when you walk. A slight inward rotation at the heel ensures that all the energy during gait is effectively transferred to your leg.
Forefoot: The forefoot is key to remaining mobile. It should be flexible, so that you can absorb your body weight when jogging and convert this force into forward motion as efficiently as possible.
Midfoot: The midfoot ensures the flexible interplay between your heel and forefoot. A sound main foot arch (i.e., medial longitudinal arch) also helps absorb the impact of footfalls; it converts saved energy into propulsion via the forefoot and toes.
The BlackBoard can help you improve range of motion throughout your various foot and toe joints and develop a harmonious interplay between all parts of your foot. Some additional goals you can use this powerful foot training tool to achieve include the following:
Enhancing balance and agility
Building stronger, healthier feet
Improving foot and toe joint mobility
Activating and stabilizing key lower leg structures
Developing healthy foot and toe movement patterns
Enhancing athletic performance and rehabilitating feet
Now that you know what’s possible through the use of the BlackBoard, let’s take a closer look at the various exercises you can perform to achieve these goals and develop a more capable foot.
Seven Key Exercises for Long-Term Success
What appears below are the seven basic exercises that constitute the core BlackBoard Basic foot training routine. The manufacturer of the BlackBoard device recommends that you perform these exercises 2-3 times per week for optimal results. The overall aim of these subtle, yet powerful exercises is to mobilize, activate, and stabilize your entire foot. In addition to the videos depicting each of these exercises, you’ll find below some additional tips and pointers on how to perform them successfully. We suggest watching the videos (ideally, several times) before performing the exercises to ensure that you execute them as intended.
A few general thoughts about how to perform the BlackBoard exercises shown below: During the exercises, be sure to place your foot in the middle of the BlackBoard, and only work out on dry, non-slip surfaces. Keep your knee facing forward in each exercise, and keep your toes relaxed (as if you were playing the piano with them). If you want to intensify your training, you can incorporate BlackBoard PerformanceBars or MobilizationBars—two great additions to complete your BlackBoard foot training set.
In terms of duration and reps, the manufacturer recommends the following for each of these exercises:
3-5 repetitions on each side
Every BlackBoard Basic training platform comes with a detailed user’s manual that includes descriptions of and QR codes for all the exercises that appear below, as well as depictions of how to set up the BlackBoard device for each individual exercise.
Note: The two main parts of the BlackBoard are the FootBoard and the HeelBoard. The FootBoard is the portion of the device that your forefoot contacts or rests upon, while the HeelBoard is the portion of the device that your heel contacts or rests upon.
For this exercise, place the long BlackBar beneath the FootBoard, right down the middle of it. The HeelBoard will sit firmly on the ground, thanks to the placement of the short BlackBars on both sides of it. Try to move your knee as little as possible, and perform the exercise until you notice the movement becoming easier.
Exercise 2: Activating the Forefoot
After mobilizing the forefoot through its full range of motion (or whatever range of motion is currently available to you), continue with the activation exercises shown here to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Perform this exercise on one leg only and try to keep the FootBoard balanced. If you feel too wobbly performing this exercise, we recommend holding on to something nearby.
Exercise 3: Mobilizing the Heel
For this exercise, place a short BlackBar beneath the HeelBoard, right down the middle of it. The FootBoard will sit firmly on the ground, thanks to the crosswise placement of the other two bars. Begin to gently move your heel inward and outward and then back again. Repeat this exercise a few times and you’ll notice a comfortable, mobilizing feeling in the lower ankle joint.
Exercise 4: Activating the Heel
Once you feel you have mastered the mobilization exercise shown above (in exercise No. 3), try lifting the other foot off the ground. Attempt to keep your balance in this position for a moment. Make sure that your weight is evenly distributed (50:50) between your forefoot and heel.
Exercise 5: Mobilizing & Relaxing Tense Feet
This exercise is great for mobilizing and relaxing tight or tense feet. For this exercise, place a short BlackBar beneath the HeelBoard, right down the middle of it, and the long BlackBar under the FootBoard, on the inside of the foot. Now tilt the HeelBoard slowly from side to side. Your knee may also turn in, but try keeping this in check. You should experience a comfortable, mobilizing feeling throughout your entire foot.
Exercise 6: Activating the Calf Muscles
For this exercise, place the FootBoard firmly on the ground by positioning the long BlackBar and one of the short BlackBars beneath it in a crosswise fashion. Position the remaining short BlackBar under the HeelBoard, slightly off-center. Start the exercise by slowly lifting the HeelBoard from the floor. Lift the HeelBoard until it’s in line with the FootBoard, and then release this position and slowly bring the HeelBoard back to the ground. Repeat this movement a few times until you clearly feel your calf muscles being activated. Once you have mastered this exercise, raise the inactive foot off the ground while you balance on the BlackBoard.
Exercise 7: Mobilizing the Toes
This exercise is helpful in restoring joint mobility in your big toe and activating the muscles in the sole of your foot. Simply place the long BlackBar crosswise beneath the front end of the FootBoard. To begin with, stretch your big toe as much as you possibly can, then release your heel from the HeelBoard and roll your foot off from the ball of your big toe. The goal is to achieve an angle of 60-90 degrees with the toe stretched.
The BlackBoard Basic: A Powerful Training Tool for the Feet
The BlackBoard Basic training platform offers you a simple and elegant way to restore optimal foot and toe joint mobility, improve various foot and toe ranges of motion, and stabilize all the many musculoskeletal structures that help make up your foot. The overarching result of using this cleverly designed tool is a more resilient and capable foot that will stand up well to all the many physical challenges life presents. With a well-trained and adaptable foot, you can feel empowered to vigorously pursue your preferred athletic activities in the knowledge that your feet, through their inherent capabilities, will support you and bear all manner of stress with ease and proficiency. Join the many foot health seekers who are using the BlackBoard Basic to build better feet!
Dr. Marty Hughes is a chiropractic physician, or DC. He received his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College (WSCC), now known as the University of Western States (UWS). Dr. Marty has always been interested in foot health, due to the connection between the feet and the spine. He has worked as a freelance writer for LiveStrong.com, for whom he contributed over 2,200 health-and-fitness articles. He is a co-founder of Natural Footgear and an ardent supporter of natural foot care approaches. Dr. Marty enjoys road cycling, trail running, hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing as well as exploring the mountains of Western North Carolina.
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