Foundational Coaching: Installment 3 – Developing an Arch

Focusing internally as to what is occurring with the feet, ankles, and arches of the feet is something that is vastly underrated. If you are aiming for stability in your squat, deadlift, and any variation of single leg movements, your ability to control your arch on an subconscious and conscious level is of the utmost importance.

Of the items that I find myself coaching over and over at Cressey Sports Performance and in other facets of training, the feet is one thing that keeps on coming back as an underrated area of coaching. Of this underrated area, developing an arch is something that is still being left out of the coaching manual, despite others writing about this waaaaaay before me (see: Charlie Weingroff’s – Is the Short Foot Always So Short? and Mike Robertson’s – Mastering Tripod Foot) that is simply glossed over.

If the hips and shoulders are in a good position, then everything else is tertiary, right? Right?

Read: One Weird Trick: What Do I Do With My Feet?

Controlling what your feet do is analogous, to me at least, to what your head and neck do. If you just let your head flop around on a body that is theoretically moving properly, and you allow your head to sit sideways for the majority of your day, what will happen to your neck?

Likewise, if you simply walk around without taking care of your feet, what will your calves, knees, hips, and lower back feel like?

Toe Touch - FN

One entry point that I’ll use as a way to infiltrate the minds of our athletes and clients at CSP is simply ask them if they are actively using their feet in their deadlift and squats. It is a throwaway question, certainly, but when given the opportunity, it will now allow me 30 seconds of coaching on what is important, and what is not important in coaching up an arch.

But I Have Flat Feet – I Don’t Have An Arch!

This is admittedly one of my pet peeves when it comes to asking athletes and clients if they are actively thinking about their feet. When I hear this statement, I automatically whip my shoes off, show them I also have flat feet, and then proceed to do a backflip via the Windlass mechanism (the mechanism that allows your arch to be created).

Flat Foot + Half Kneeling

Long story short, if you create a sensation at the base of the heel, lateral aspect of the foot along the edge of the pink toe, along with sensation at the ball of the foot of the first toe (first ray/MTP/whatever else name you wanna call it), you are eliciting active control of your arches.

Windlass Mechanism
B) Windlass Mechanism

This might be one reason why barefoot running was such in such a hullabaloo in past years, garnering attention towards the idea that natural gait was to occur without the sensation of excessively padded running shoes that have been marketed as of late, among many other reasons.

Control Yourself

Well, what can you do when you are aiming to control yourself, and your arches during your lifting program?

What are some exercises that can be affected by how much control you have in your arches?

1. Deadlifts
2. Single Leg Deadlifts
3. Squats
4. Single Leg Squats

5. Forward and Reverse Lunges
6. Lateral Lunges
7. Jumping
8. Landing (Depth drops and jumps)
9. Sprinting
10. Running
11. Shuffling
12. etc.

As you can see the list can go on and on depending on the drills that your gym or exercise program uses.

What Are Some Issues That Can Come About from Lack of Control?

The things that can help improve sensation to an area involve either a coaching cue (such as the video above), a specific sensory integration exercise (such as massage to the posterior tibialis to allow for greater tibial internal rotation to occur, which will allow pronation to occur), or an orthotic of sorts (if absolutely necessary).

  • If you over-supinate, you could theoretically rely on your hip abductors for stability (and possibly develop something along the lines of IT Band Syndrome, or TFL tightness) (PROBLEM)
  • If you over-pronate, you could theoretically rely on your hip adductors for stability, and could develop medial knee issues (pain, dysfunction, etc) or even higher up and have groin issues. (PROBLEM)

  • If you over-supinate, you want something that will pronate your foot to a neutral position. (SOLUTION)
  • If you over-pronate, you want something that will supinate your foot to a neutral position.(SOLUTION)
  • If you don’t have any issues, well then you’re perfect. Go lift some heavy weights, dance, and run to your hearts desire.

And finally, I’m of the belief that learning to control your arches will create a better platform with which you can now absorb force… which will elicit a better exercise output… which will elicit better adaptations for your goals!

Transitioning from the Gym to the Field/Court

If you’re focusing on developing an arch, and can’t get it to work for you, seek to find relief in these areas:

  • Posterior Tibialis
    • This muscle stabilizes the medial arch of the foot, and allows for greater abilities for inversion and plantarflexion to occur. If you are pushing through your medial arch too much, this muscle can be fighting for dear life, and can be overtly tight.
  • Extensor Hallicus Longus
    • This muscle allows for your toes to extend – something that occurs if you are “faking” ankle dorsiflexion. Don’t mistake your ability for your ankle to dorsiflex (up towards your head) with your toes’ ability to extend (up towards your head).

Further, seek to improve timing and coordination via these areas:

  • Flexor Hallicus Brevis
    • This muscle allows your first ray (big toe) to flex (and stabilize) into pronation.
  • Abductor Digiti Minimi
    • This muscle stabilizes, flexes, and abducts the lateral most ray (fifth toe) during gait.

Granted, these super small muscles are not often focused upon in any gym setting (“Hey, fire your flexor hallicus brevis before you deadlift!”), but as a coach or trainer, you can inform your client or athlete to make sure they feel those spots intently as I shown in the above video.

If you’re going to transition onto the field or court, make sure you understand what your body is doing and do a systems check before going all out. You might find yourself more aware of what your body is doing in a good way when practicing and competing, which will help you create better opportunities down the line.

As always,

Keep it funky.


Calling All Dancers…

This is a call for all dancers…

… Dancers looking to get stronger that is!

Here is your chance to receive customized programming for increasing muscle mass for the summer, returning from an injury, or increasing performance for your work or hobby.

Practicing upside down selfies before dance practice is a pastime of mine as well.

This pilot dance strength training program can be done while traveling, with minimal equipment (barbells, DBs and bodyweight exercises), but definitely needs access to a gym of some sort in order to be successful.

You will need at the very least some background with exercising. Also not exclusive to dancers only (performers, artists, etc are welcome as well).

If you’re interested, expect the following in an e-mail:

  1. A PDF file containing the Dynamic Warm-Up, and Stretching and Breathing Exercises designed to help you get ready for your session.
  2. Two to three days of strength training aimed at increasing performance and helping towards your craft by utilizing main muscle movers and preventing erroneous technique.
  3. Easy to follow along videos to help with exercise techniques for unfamiliar exercises.

And much more !!

–> If you’re dedicated to your craft, please e-mail
with the subject line STRENGTH TRAINING. <–


As always,

Keep it funky.


Interview with Dr. Pat Davidson

I had the opportunity this morning to interview Dr. Pat Davidson, a former professor at Springfield College, national level competitor that has competed in the Arnold Classic twice, former practitioner of MMA, and overall animal of a person. If you’re interested at all in learning about Pat’s life from his career early on towards his evolution as a modern strength coach, I highly recommend listening to the whole interview.


Going into this I wanted to discover what makes Pat tick, and when I did this I wanted to dig deep into his internal locus. Hopefully you too come out of this with a better understanding of his early sacrifices, what he is learning now, and how much of an expert this individual truly is when it comes to strength and conditioning, and everything that relates to this topic.

Taking the Path Less Traveled – Episode 1 with Dr. Pat Davidson

NEW! – Episode 2 with Pat Davidson


If however, you don’t have the patience to sit and watch 3 hours of an interview, I’ve highlighted different parts of the interview in order to “chop” up the segments for easier digestion.

Find below timestamps for a one on one interview with Dr. Pat Davidson.

0:00 – Introduction

Personal Background of Pat Davidson

23:18 – Formal Education of Pat Davidson

30:12 – Talking about his PhD at Springfield College

Other Philosophical Influences of Pat Davidson

Pat Davidson - Word Cloud

38:42 – Experiences with DNS

39:55 – Pat’s Intro to PRI from Other Coaches

41:00What drives you as a student within this industry?

45:00 – Kevin Adair, BioSignature, and Gluten

47:54What drives you as an educator and coach within this industry?


50:00 – “ACSM guidelines are to exercise, as Will Smith is to rap.

55:40What drives you as an athlete?


56:47What are one or two lessons that you know now, that you wish you knew in your 20s or early career?   

57:36 – Success, and “Sleeper Cell Students” within Exercise Science and S&C

1:01:53 – What are your biggest epiphanies in 2013-2014? And what paths did you go down excitedly, but realized were ultimately dead ends?

1:03:48 – Extensive PRI Chat

1:08:23Who has been the most impactful with regards to influencing your thought process?

“It doesn’t matter what you do,

you apply the same mindset to it that you apply to your training.”

“If I’m cleaning a toilet, it’s gonna be the cleanest toilet you’ve ever seen in

your entire life, because i’m going to clean that toilet like I train.”

1:12:35 – “Intelligence scares me.

1:14:15 – “If you’re not on the PRI bus, I don’t really want to do anything you’re not doing.

1:14:48 – “Ron Hruska is like God to me.

1:15:02 – “Yeah there’s people, but it’s more like the notion of what people represent to me, as far as their work ethic, talent, and the pursuit of everything that is outside of the box.”

1:15:35What resources do you recommend for many up and coming coaches and trainers who are eager to learn?

1:17:28 – “Gears, clock making.”

1:17:51 – “There’s level to it.”

1:18:09 – Pat asks me: “How many years of PRI do you think you’d need to dive into it before you’re comfortable?

1:20:06 – “I’ve been in chronic pain forever.

1:23:10 – “Low Threshold Signals vs High Threshold Signals”

1:28:19 – Temporal-Mandibular-Cranial-Cervical Explanation + Tangential Information

1:31:05 – What are reference centers with regards to the TMCC information?

1:43:24What methods does he use to help in the transfer of weight room strength to on field performance?

1:53:33Please explain the correlation between proper diaphragm breathing and one’s ability to produce maximal strength.

2:07:33Concurrent programming, How to manage fatigue of the various body systems, What you’re looking for in particular (with regards to the above topics)?

2:18:55 – Fatigue (DB Hammer (?))

2:21:49 – Tom Yanuzzi & Gerard Friedman – CrossFit Question

2:28:41 – Naming Protocols During Different Blocks

2:34:48Best resources for someone interested primarily in strength, power, and hypertrophy to learn programming/training variations?

2:48:28What is your definition of greatness?


If you have any interest in any of the things that we discussed today, you can check out Pat’s website here at and his email at

As always,

Keep it funky