“Practice what you want to improve, or you’ll get better at something else” - Lee Saxby
In physical rehabilitation and training, the S.A.I.D principle asserts that the human body adapts specifically to demands imposed upon it. In other words, specific stressors on the human system, whether biomechanical or neurological, produce a Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID) (Henry, 1958). Previous posts have discussed the importance of foot structure and in particular, position and strength of the big toe for proper foot function in human movement. The SAID principle dictates that rehabilitation of the foot requires exercises specific to big toe position and strength. Such exercises, designed by Lee Saxby and recommended by Joe Nimble achieve this effect.
To awaken and improve the function of muscles controlling the big toe, exercises must activate the muscles precisely as they need to activate in balance and locomotion. A study by Gooding et al. (2016) used magnetic resonance imaging to study the pattern and level of activation big-toe muscles in exercises similar to those recommended by Lee Saxby and Joe Nimble for rehabilitation of toe function. Participants completed a single set of 40 repetitions of exercises to increase toe spread and flexion strength of the big toe. All exercises resulted in significant increases in activation of the muscles targeted to improve toe function.
Toe flexor muscles are crucial in control of posture and locomotion. Poor toe flexor strength is an independent risk factor for falls, and declines steadily from middle to old age (Masataka et al., 2017). The SAID principle dictates that regular use of exercises specific to improving muscular control of the toes will result in improved toe and therefore foot strength, helping to restore foot function and combat age-related declines.