Image of the February 2019 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
February 2019 Issue
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Foot confidence

Rocky ground is a test of foot confidence – try looking ahead, not at the ground immediately in front of you. Photo: Emily Shrosbury
Learn to trust your feet, they know exactly what they’re doing

Do you wonder why some people are slower or faster when the ground gets uneven? Maybe you notice when you cross a rocky riverbed or the track is full of tree roots.

The difference in speed often comes down to foot confidence – or learning to trust that your feet, and ultimately the rest of your body, will know how to move as you step forward no matter what you step on.

When people don’t have foot confidence, they tend to focus on the ground immediately in front of them. They may be trying to pick exactly where to put their foot for each step. The idea is to avoid slipping or tripping and they need to put their foot somewhere steady. However, we don’t actually need to be that picky about where we put our feet.

In fact, our feet and body are pretty good at knowing how to move without consciously thinking about it.

To see what I mean, try running for a few minutes. Most of the time you look straight ahead and trust that your feet know where to go. Sometimes you do look down to check the ground, but then you trust your body and feet will remember what you saw.

Even if you do step incorrectly, before your body has time to fall over, you will already have taken the next step. If that next step is on steady ground, you are likely to still be standing and moving forward. It’s the combination of trusting your feet to know how to move and your momentum to keep you moving.

Next time you’re tramping on unsteady ground, try looking further ahead and test your foot confidence.

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