The feet: A crucial component for wrestling and everyday health.

In wrestling, one of the most underrated elements is balance and stability. It is the stability and positioning that translates to a dominant wrestler that doesn’t ever break stance. Someone that has great balance can defend leg attacks and have the ability to win a seemingly impossible position when an opponent has his/her leg high up in the air, or is balancing trying to defend on one foot. Sometimes these exact positions can be the difference maker in a high-level wrestling match. As one’s wrestling develops to the highest level, a champion wrestler understands and feels when an opponent is leaning a certain way and can use this intuition in order to score an attack. The positioning battle in neutral wrestling is monumental, and the world-class wrestlers understand that “staying in perfect position” requires balance and stability that come from the feet all the way up the kinetic chain of the body. Coach Dennis Hall (World Champion, Olympic Silver Medalist, and 10x US Open Champion) talks about keeping one’s “center of gravity”, by digging ones feet into the mat and lowering a wrestler’s stance can have a huge impact in staying in perfect wrestling position. Coach Hall has developed a protocol called the Spike Functional Strength Training or “CORE”, and this system is designed to keep one’s body stable and strong in every position. The method uses all body weight exercises, along with foam blocks to engage every muscle in the body, and make each one fire correctly. It is incredibly challenging and can take an athlete’s strength and stability to the next level. The “CORE” program helps prevent injuries in wrestling by keeping the body in balance and every muscle functioning the correct way. He perfected and used the system during his athletic career in order to become one of the most highly decorated U.S. Olympic Greco Roman wrestlers in history. I highly recommend checking out the videos on

To get in contact with Coach Hall, email him at dennishallusa@gmail.comor give him a call at 716-340-8961.

Aubrey Robison is my trusted yoga instructor and close friend; I have worked with her now for over a year on increasing my flexibility, mobility, balance, and stability. Her expertise of the human body mechanics is incredible and I want to share some of her knowledge:

“Everyone can agree that when the roots of a tree are strong and stable, it will have more strength and resiliency than the tree with a poor root system. In the human body, the feet are that root system. Today you can find workouts for everything but very rarely do you see programs that address the feet as well. If the feet are neglected in training and in life, the body will eventually suffer because poor foot mechanics translates up the entire kinetic chain. 

One way we can work with this root system and strengthen our foundation is by wearing functional footwear. Most shoes on the market these days have some sort of a heel drop along with a narrow toe box that squish the toes into a mini foot prison. When the toes are restricted, intrinsic foot muscles become deconditioned and symptoms like bunions and plantar fasciitis can occur. When the heel is constantly elevated it causes the muscles and tendons to shorten and stiffen, which can then cause your arch to flatten. It also keeps you loading most of your weight on your toes which stretches and inhibits the glutes and abdominals (two of your biggest and most important muscles groups) which can lead to lower crossed syndrome. No thanks!

A zero-drop shoe with a wide-toe box allows the foot to be in its natural state where the toes can splay and all the arches can engage creating strength in the foot and more balance in the whole body. Brands like Vivobarefoot have great options for finding a zero-drop shoe that will fit your lifestyle. 

Along with functional footwear, foot strengthening exercise is also important. Even if you haven’t had arches your entire life, every person should have somewhat of an arch.

Flat arches cause the ankle to roll in and pronate causing significant stress in the ankles, knees, hips, etc. Arch supports can be good in extreme cases to provide temporary alignment but it’s important not to become dependent. If supports are worn too much without the strengthening aspect, arches will only become weaker and you’ll never address the problem. Incorporating toe spacers into part of your day is one simple way to help restore the natural shape of the foot and fix imbalance. Toe spacers help to stretch out the fascia in the feet so the toes can splay and all three arches of the foot can work together and distribute weight and force. Toe spacers can be worn while relaxing or just walking around the house but for even faster results add them to your workout routine. Balancing poses like tree pose and crescent lunge are an excellent way to start. Brands like IndigoFlo Yoga work well with wide-toe box footwear so you can wear them at the gym and throughout the day. Adding simple foot care to your training and lifestyle not only helps with balance and performance but will help to keep the body healthy and out of pain.”

Aubrey has so much wisdom when it comes to the body properly functioning. When I first came to her I couldn’t understand why I was getting injured; I am so strong and able to lift so much weight; I thought that it was impossible to suffer some of the major injuries I did in college (see Patience learned through injuries). I began to believe and trust their expertise after coming back from a second major injury of my career last summer (2018). 

I bought Vivobarefoot shoes that I wear on an everyday basis and I use the toe spacers 3x per week while Aubrey does yoga with me. I have noticed differences over time on how my balance has improved, but even more importantly how my body has loosened up. I used to have lower back and foot pain walking around, along with tight hamstrings, spine, and shoulders. After working with her for a year, and listening to her advice my body mechanics have improved a lot and I wake up with minimal pain/tightness even after hard wrestling training sessions. She has helped me a lot and I’m grateful for that.

To get in contact with Aubrey Robison email her at, or Instagram message her @indigofloyoga.

Here’s a link to buy toe spacers!:

Nathan TomaselloComment