Any athlete, and parent of an athlete, who has been told to rest by a doctor due to an overuse injury needs to read Chong Xie's book, Secret of Athleticism.
Through his research, Xie has discovered that overuse injuries are the cause of improper mechanics of the foot:
- jumping/landing incorrectly
- running incorrectly
- a lack of muscle activation of the glutes
One piece of advice offered in the book is to properly time breathing with landing. This is critical because if someone jumps and lets out the air too early, the whole body goes into a relaxation mode. Landing in a relaxation mode causes injury, which may not be felt immediately.
Correct landing involves tensing of the foot into "Hyperarch Mode," tightening the abs, and activating the Gluteus Maximus at the moment of impact. Most importantly, he advises that people must "land on their toes" and balls of the feet in the "Hyperarch State." In this state, the toes are brought closer to the balls of the feet. People should never land with relaxed foot nor should they land on the whole foot.
This is because the foot is the "foundation of any movement." Xie's research has shown that the foot has different modes for different purposes. When someone is able to channel the foot correctly, he/she shifts his/her body into athletic mode.
Everything in the body is connected with the movement of the foot. By "manipulating the muscle activation pattern in the feet," people are able to build a proper connection to the Gluteus Maximus and allow the glutes to be the primary driver in athletic movements.
The majority of people have dormant glutes due to too much relaxation of the foot. The muscle activation pattern is reversed, the quad becomes the most dominant muscle group, then the hamstring, and then the Gluteus Maximus.
The first step to becoming a better athlete is by activating the "Hyperarch Mechanism" of the foot, which is a way to put strength and tension in the foot. By putting tension in the foot and activating the mechanism, the ankle locks up naturally. Overtime, this very mechanism builds healthy links to the glutes and allows the person to engage the glutes properly when running, jumping, and landing.