Superfeet or Strong Feet: Which do you need?

Superfeet are insoles sold to hockey players with the intention of supporting the arch of the foot to prevent foot collapse. But do you really need them? And do they actually help?

The makers of Superfeet and other insole companies purport that their products prevent foot collapse, and therefore prevent malignment of the knee, thereby preventing malignment of the hip joint, thereby allowing the hip to joint to function optimally, thereby allowing you to generate more power. This all sounds really good…if all you needed was an insole.

You know what else does a really good job supporting your foot? Your foot!

Nature designed each of us to have this amazing thing called a foot that supports itself with an extensive network of muscles, tendons and ligaments. If you have been given the movement opportunities to develop them, you will be gifted with the best arch support ever invented. If not, or if you’ve just somehow developed poor movement patterns (could be from shoes, or genetics, or anything really), then an arch support insole won’t be able to help your collapsing (or pronating) foot. I have seen many athletes who pronate in every movement off the ice, throw some superfeet in, and still pronate like crazy on the ice. THE SUPERFEET DO NOT SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM! I then see athletes with great foot control off the ice, who then use superfeet on the ice and guess what…they have great foot control on the ice. THE SUPERFEET DO NOT HELP THESE ATHLETES FURTHER.

So what actually helps these athletes on the ice with foot control? Perfect foot control OFF ICE. Remember that skating, and hockey, and on-ice stuff is an extremely challenging athletic realm. If you don’t have the most basic athletic skills off the ice, you will not be able to execute them on the ice. If you can’t execute them on the ice, you inhibit your development.

Just as Superfeet claims, if your arch collapses, your foot will collapse, which will cause your knee to malign, which will cause change the angle of your femur in the hip joint. By changing the angle of the femur in your hip joint you impair how your gluteus maximus fires, which then decrease your power.

I notice this on myself, because my right foot tends to collapse. When crossing over to my right, when planting on my right foot, I tend not to be as powerful or stable as when I’m planting on my left, turning to my left. By working on foot strengthening exercises, and paying particular attention to my right foot, I’ve been able to change how my foot plants and how my right glute fires. This makes me better at changing direction, especially to my right.

I just purchased new skates and made the decision not to put Superfeet in them. Superfeet did not help fix my pronating right foot, nor did they help with my right foot plant and consequent right crossover steps. What has helped has been my foot strengthening exercises.

In a day and age when everyone wants to have a quick fix or buy their way out of a problem, you may not want to hear that you have to do actual work to get better. But you will have to do work to get better.

Bottom line: if you want the most power from your stride, make sure that your feet do not collapse on or off the ice during movements. Superfeet are a waste of your money. Foot strengthening exercises are a better way to ensure neutral foot alignment than Superfeet.

Here are a few ways to begin strengthening your foot:

NEXT POST: The next post that I’ve been working on for a bit is an article on groins and hockey players. It is requiring a bit of research to make it credible, so it’s taking a bit of time to get up. Thanks for your patience.

TECHNICAL NOTE: Just because you have a flat arch, doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have pronating feet. When your feet pronate (feet collapse towards the midline of the body at the ankle), that’s when you run into problems with the kinetic chain. Pronation is often exacerbated by weak or flattened arch however. Another note, most people pronate naturally to accommodate the natural motion of the foot during a stride, but what I am talking about (using pronating and collapsing interchangeably) is over-pronation…which affects the kinetic chain (glutes firing).

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Jason at Train 2.0

2.0 was born from the belief that 1.0 isn't good enough. The way we're approaching coaching, training, and development for hockey needs to be rethought. My own lessons have led me to rethink the way it's being done and I can't help but write about it. I'm writing for my 12, 13, 14, 15 year old self who didn't have this resource. I'm writing for parents who are putting their dollars and trust in coaches who are wasting all of it. I'm writing because I hope it can make a difference.

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