Hats off to the Ground

Sometimes I see the world in GRFs. No, not GIFs, but Ground Reaction Forces.

I see the grocery store floor pushing into pummeled blue flip flops. There is an impulse traveling through the feet, ankles, and up to the knees. They are not going to last.

I see a battle happening between asphalt and rubber as the bus merges off the highway, dozens of lives utterly dependent on nothing less than a perfect tie.

I see the linoleum floor deliver a blow that far exceeds the tensile strength of my coffee cup. This necessitates other GRF as I make my way toward the broom and dustpan.

Image result for foot ground reaction forceBut of course, athletic fields and courts are my favorite places to hunt GRFs. Nearly every feat of grace and power begins and ends with an astronomical GRF, usually through the ball of the foot.

Not a GRF, but of a GRF.
The far majority of sports and much of everyday life is about friction and triple extension of the hip, knee, and ankle through the ball of the foot. This moment in time garners little attention compared to the events that take place shortly thereafter. But the place where the ground meets the ball of the foot is where it all begins in a wondrous feat that raises GRFs from dead earth.

That 90 mph fast ball up and in, the earth shaking dunk, the nailbiting triple axl and the sick bicycle kick...all awesome displays of ground reaction force through the forefoot.

What Is the Purpose of the Semicircle in Basketball?

The ground gets so little credit. I mean, go ahead and try timing Usain Bolt in 100 meters on the beach where sand swallows his GRFs. Try having Mark Trumbo go to bat, even in short porch Camden against the worst pitchers, while standing on marbles. Rodeo clowns mocking ferocious snorting bulls in water are not remotely impressive.

You go ahead and try cutting to the hoop on a dusty hardwood floor, hitting the brakes in an ice storm, going for a deadlift PR in soggy grass, getting out of the shower, or any other activity where the GRF suffers a loss to the applied force.


Maybe you want to generate some large GRFs yourself, or you're interested in leaving a trail of lesser GRFs with efficiency over long distances. Then you need to work on generating force in triple extension, under extra loading, over a broad range of motion, and in various directions and speeds. You need to achieve proper joint alignment and core stability in order to fully acquire and direct what the ground will grant you. Get off the fitness contraptions and machines, and spend some time on your feet.

But for now, let's all give a great round of applause to The Ground!
Without dependable, quality, and generous GRF, most activities of daily living are nearly impossible, and all of our hard-earned speed, size, and power only works against us. Life as we know it loses it's marvel.

So next time you see that spectacular cut, leap, dive, strike or throw, take a moment to stare at the ground and appreciate the preceding time and place from whence it came.

What? Is it only me?

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