Favorite Foundation Training workout side-benefit, plus a tip about Metatarsal pain relief

I regularly do a YouTube video workout called “Foundation Training Original 12 minutes w Dr Eric Goodman” started about a year ago this month, and now for more than half that duration have also done another one, “6pack abs in 4mins: Foundation Training 8 Point Plank Challenge” (I won’t link these here again, since I have in other threads, but search with the exact titles I gave, and YouTube will find these easily.)

I have for a long time extended the Original 12mins to about 16-19 minutes every time. I do more reps of basically all the moves because I’ve already seen how these help me, and I want the maximum benefit. Dr. Goodman moves a bit faster than I like, and I tend to push for 15 reps of everything instead of 10. I move a little slower to maximize the stretch, so I keep my wireless trackball mouse in one hand, enabling me with a simple click to keep pausing/restarting the YouTube vid to allow me time for the reps. I should have it memorized by now and not need the video at all, but I like hearing the good cues about form that he gives throughout, so I still play it every time.

In any case, having done the first video for one year as of about mid-August coming up, and experienced the ups and downs of how consistently I do it, I can easily say it is an absolute MUST DO workout for me. When I’ve missed for any stretch of time more than 3 or 4 days, I’m absolutely going to pay for it with recurring low back pain, and getting back on the workout improves and corrects that without fail… ALWAYS. I don’t want to imagine stopping this particular workout EVER, and I’m still trying to make it a daily thing but haven’t succeeded yet.

A VERY UNEXPECTED change I have found is that it also improves a completely surprising to me issue that I’ve had for years, arthritis in my metatarsals! (Didn’t even know it was arthritis at the time, but eventually connected it when I had it diagnosed in my hands and realized it was the same thing going on.)

For years, I suffered with cramping, SEVERE pain in the balls of my feet that generally occurred late in LONG rides. So generally not until I was past 50 or 60 miles, 3 hours or more, and often not even till about 75-80 miles.

But when it hit, it was absolute MURDER. I kept doing long rides, suffering through it, flexing my toes, unclipping and reclipping into pedals, shaking the foot, sometime SLAMMING the foot into the pedal, trying anything to just refocus or change the pain. Sometimes making it worse, sometimes getting temporary relief. Sometimes literally crying as I rode through the pain.

Never really knew what it was or why it happened. I did know that my shoe insoles showed a very clear and definite deeper depression area under my middle metatarsal head, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I tried metatarsal pads but got no relief at all.

It was so bad that I would often wake up with throbbing pain that forced me IMMEDIATELY out of bed to massage that foot by rolling a tennis ball underneath my flexing toes until it subsided again. That used to be an almost every night ordeal.

I FINALLY was talking to a friend, a retired internal meds doc, who was a VERY accomplished cyclist in his younger years, and the subject came up. He immediately knew what it was and what to do with the metatarsal pads that I never understood, and most pads sold do not explain well how to use them. (In fact many mislead you in that regard.)

The logical thought with these pads is to place them UNDER the forefoot area where the pain is, hoping that cushioning the area will make it better.
It DOES NOT. (At least for me, and my issue, which I recognize now is inflammation/arthritis, which gives me a very swollen metatarsal head.)

Doc Crandall told me that the problem is that the metatarsal BONES NEED BETTER SUPPORT from the shoe and they aren’t getting it. So he always used moleskin tape and built up the insole of the shoe with layer on layer to build a support pad area BEHIND THE METATARSAL HEADS, NOT UNDER THEM! This supports the length of the BONES better, and takes pressure OFF THE HEADS, which are what hurts.

So I took my same silicone pads again, and this time, attached them further back, probably close to an inch back on the insole, so they would hopefully stay in place better (which they have, but some insoles have smoother surface to attach to, and some are terribly hard to stick anything to, so I keep any insoles that are well made and “stuck to” easily and I reuse them again and again in other shoes! My old Shimano M161, M162, and M163 MTB shoes, long ago discontinued, had FABULOUS insoles, and I move them to new shoes every time!)

In any case, this change brought me IMMEDIATE RELIEF from what had been a problem for years, one that in fact, I wondered might be what stopped me from riding someday. It WAS that BAD.

Fast forward maybe 4 years from then, the problem is now very manageable, the metatarsal heads are still overly large, but wearing these pads correctly in ALL my shoes has reduced the problem to a rarely painful issue, and when it does hurt, I can deal with it, and it basically NEVER wakes me up anymore.

Back to the Foundation Training Original 12mins w Dr Eric Goodman workout. From the very first time I tried it, my left foot just COULD NOT HANDLE pressing up and down onto my toes during the exercise that has you in right leg forward, left leg back position and with arms raised above your head, bending to the right to open up the left side and stretch out your hip flexors.
The up and down from your toes, pressing up hard, then back down to your heels, was unbearable for my left foot. The right foot tolerated it okay but the metatarsal heads on the left foot screamed out from that pressure. At first, I just gave up and stretched without going up onto my toes, got what I could from it.

But at some point, I tried again and forced myself to do it right as best I could.
Guess what? Now, I can do the whole thing without pain, and my feet are feeling better overall. They just feel stronger, more flexible, they feel GOOD!

I still had some metatarsal pain for a little while on a recent 100 mile ride. I’m still 65 and fight arthritis. But WOW, I never expected that benefit from a workout that doesn’t seem to be aiming at that particular issue.

If any of you suffer from this pain, maybe these 2 things can help you too.


Have you looked at the Strength and Mobility workouts in SYSTM?

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Yes, have done a few of them, but honestly haven’t been a big fan. In fairness, have not delved deeply at all, just a few, but didn’t find them very engaging.

What makes the Foundation videos more engaging?

I’m not sure that’s anything more than personal taste. The Foundation Training vids that I’ve done (which is barely scratching the surface, I’m sure) have just clicked for me. I’ve continued to learn how to engage muscles properly as he talks through these, even after I thought I’d gotten it all, I still sometimes catch another nuance and I get better at a particular position. (And that should be true with SYSTM vids too, I think, but I didn’t do them nearly as long as I’ve done the 2 that are my Go-To workouts.)
There is actually an Updated 12minutes video by Foundation Training that I also tried, but I returned to the ORIGINAL version because I felt the early part of the updated one was hard for me to connect to and understand how to engage the muscles with those totally different positions. For me, the Original is incredible in how much is does in such a short focused time.

I do think Dr Goodman just has a great way of communicating. If I were willing to spend more time doing strength training and less time riding (which I’m definitely NOT,) I’m confident I would become stronger and more balanced in many areas that I’m probably weak or less flexible than I could be. Maybe in time, I’ll give more to that end…
as long as I still get to ride as much as I want! :joy:

This is my issue in general with all the other option here on Systm and everywhere else. I only have so much time and if I have to surrender bike time, I have a hard time justifying it. I know I would benefit from more strength training, but I don’t do it. I have a set of stretching exercises that keep me moving (I am looking at age 68 very shortly) so I don’t do yoga. And to your point, I don’t find what I have looked at very engaging.

Part of the problem is that cycling is not a weight bearing exercise.

Hence the need to do strength training of some sort. As you get older that becomes more and more important.


No argument from the head side. Just can’t get my heart on board! :confused:

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Absolutely agree, @Critmark ! Cycling is the ONE form of recreation, fitness, and joy that I don’t want to give up.

I think stretching is equally important if not greater than weight bearing exercise, depending on what is meant by that. It is the stretching involved in the Foundation Training 12mins workout I do that really has made me stronger and as you said, keeps me moving. (Many stretching exercises are in fact, weight-bearing at the same time.)
The ENGAGING factor needs to be the #1 FACTOR when workouts are created. Miss that and you’ve lost most of your target audience before they even get through one viewing, let alone adopting it as a regular practice. Achieve that engagement factor and you’ll have a steady stream of viewers, and many will be total converts. I’m certainly one, and I’m certainly not alone. A quick read of just a FEW of the comments on that video bears that out as plain as day.

I would argue that cycling is not WITHOUT weight bearing, depending on how and what you ride.
When you STAND, you are bearing your weight; when you are seated, your arms are bearing some weight. When you mountain bike technical trails, you bear more weight than you might think, carrying your weight mostly on your arms and feet on descents, very little on the saddle, and with speed, gravity, and bouncing terrain, there’s a LOT of weight bearing stress throughout. When you have to PUSH your bike up super steep trails, you’re getting a LOT of weight bearing exercise, on all sorts of muscles you’ll otherwise rarely use! When I did a lot more mountain biking than I do now, I was definitely stronger overall due to the stresses it places on your body.
I would agree that there are better options IF that is your main goal, and I’m NOT undercutting the importance of weight bearing exercise; just saying cycling does bring something to the table in that regard.

Cycling is not a weight bearing exercise in any meaningful sense.

From the Mayo Clinic: Exercising with osteoporosis: Stay active the safe way - Mayo Clinic

“Swimming and cycling have many benefits, but they don’t provide the weight-bearing load your bones need to slow mineral loss.”

Another paper: Swimming and cycling do not cause positive effects on bone mineral density: a systematic review - PubMed

"We conclude that cycling and swimming do not cause positive effects on BMD; thus, these are not the most suitable exercises for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. "

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One is not a substitute for the other, you can be very flexible and still have fragile bones, or have strong bones, but are inflexible.

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I won’t belabor the point but the studies of cyclists almost absolutely were NOT done with mountain bikers, or BMX cyclists, both of which place frequent stress on their legs AND upper bodies that are far higher than walking does, and walking is one of the recommended exercises in the first article you referenced.
I’ll let it rest at that. I still hold the same opinion I gave, for the reasons I gave.

No form of bicycling reaches the level of weight bearing that simple walking does. NONE. Studies were done with MTBers and they do have more weight stress than road cycling though.

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I’m just going to point out, very gently, that if you don’t invest time into proper weight training now, you will have to surrender all bike time much quicker. My dad’s best mate lives near me, is approaching 80 and STILL thrashes me on the bike. He’s in the gym 3 days a week and rides twice a week now. He would prefer to ride 5 days a week and do no gym, but has pointed out if he did no gym, he wouldn’t be riding at all now.


@DameLisa I fully understand the point. But as I stated above, “No argument from the head side. Just can’t get my heart on board!


@DouthatBiker This is true for MTB - less so for road - but it isn’t sufficient. Definitely incorporate off bike strength not just to help your cycling but also to increase quality of life as you age. There is a podcast on this topic. I will look for the title.


@DouthatBiker, self-care of your feet & ankles will pay HUGE dividends. Go to the yoga section of the SYSTM app, and try out two sessions: Foot and Ankle Recovery, and Foot and Ankle Mobility for Runners.

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Yeah it is not sufficient. Cycling = cardio, no matter how you slice it. Its the lift heavy stuff that nuilds the bone density and muscle mass that you tend to lose as you age.


@DouthatBiker: another alternative is to look at the mobility sessions under Strength & Mobility. There are workouts that focus on the neck, shoulders and upper back, foot and ankle, and core and hip.


I appreciate the concerns from all. But there’s an overreaction being carried on here. I never said anything about SUFFICIENCY of cycling in ANY form for maintaining the best possible maintenance of or increase of muscle or bone health. What I said was:

As @Critmark said, it’s not just about being convinced in my head!
It really IS a matter of choices and what we are or are not motivated by.

I’ll never be a gym rat. Period. I know, that’s a weighted term; it just is what it is. I don’t mean to belittle it. If that’s your deal, that’s great for you!
But it doesn’t motivate me to “lift weights;” never has and likely never will. And if I do decide to do it, it’ll be a chore for sure.
I was the maintenance director at a local YMCA for a dozen years before I retired. Personally responsible for everything from fitness machines and weights to HVAC units on the roof to pool maintenance and chemistry balance. Enjoyed working on and trying to keep things in best working order.
But though I could work out in the fitness center or swim in the pool anytime I wanted, I didn’t do that more than a handful of times. Literally. Just wasn’t my interest.
Swimming in a great NH lake where I grew up was motivating! Swimming in a pool is a chore and a bore to me. Many people LOVE IT, and I’m glad for them.

ALL those things COULD BE GOOD! Could be BETTER than my alternatives. NO ARGUMENT THERE. I don’t have to be convinced of that at all. But I’m NOT THAT PERSON.

I have told this to many, many people over the years and still believe this 100%.


If you DON’T ENJOY IT, YOU WILL QUIT IT… Plain and simple.

And I don’t find anything wrong with that plain truth.

This also applies to the Mobility or Yoga sections of SYSTM.
I just haven’t found them engaging. I’m really not a yoga guy anyway. Too slow paced for my makeup.
It’s not that I’ve tried them all, or that I don’t think there MIGHT be some sessions I could connect to. But what I tried left me cold and unengaged.

By contrast, the one Foundation Training Original 12mins I’ve referenced grabbed me from the first viewing, even before doing it. It just fits me. It MOTIVATES me. It HURTS me to do it, and I LOVE IT EVERY TIME!
However, the HURT results in an ALLEVIATION of my pain. As soon as I finish, I feel the improvement that fast. And time has proven to me without a doubt that it does something in me that nothing else has.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling the SYSTM Yoga, Mobility, whatever.
It just hasn’t interested me. The same way RGT for the most part hasn’t either.
RGT is like a swimming pool where SYSTM workouts are more like “the lake I grew up on” (and still miss terribly!!)

There are MANY ways of getting weight bearing exercise without “lifting weights” or going to the gym. As long as I can, I choose the things that involve those OTHER ways of bearing weight that are usually part of daily routines, shopping and carrying multiple bags of groceries in at a time, working with tools like backpack blowers, carrying ladders (extension ladders are an easy way to hurt your back, btw!), mowing grass with a large walk behind mower that takes a LOT of “body English” to persuade it on direction reversals, etc, carrying fuel and a chainsaw or brush cutter through the woods to clear trails, shoveling snow (:frowning:), etc etc. The list will grow by next week with something else I’ll have to do, I’m sure.
These things (with exceptions!) DO MOTIVATE me.