I don't know if this is a result of my archaic way of animating, or actually a useful trick to share, but I do this constantly while I'm animating and would find it hard not to...
I regularly set controllers back to zero before I start posing them.
So basically, If its time to pose the spine of a character for example, even though I might be happy with the pose its coming out of, I often reset it to be completely default, then I start posing it. This is nothing to do with "letting the computer do work for me", instead I find that doing this enables me to keep track of poses relative to the default orientation of controllers.. I sometimes find that things can get a little off model, or just a little crazy when they appear to look just fine in the shot... but they cause problems later down the line ( I'm usually resetting rotations or attributes more often that translations, but it depends on the rig )
Another good time to reset controllers is if you get yourself in a mess. Some rigs allow you to get yourself in a tight spot if you're not careful with certain attributes, or rotation orders, especially if a controller has the ability to get into the same pose with a different combination of attributes.
So a good trick at this point is to reset to zero over a single frame.
so your foot pose might look fine in 3D, but the controllers underneath it that are getting it in that pose might be all over the place and crazy. So in that situation, I would set a key on say frame 20, reset the foot controllers ( and yes, the foot will be in the total wrong place ) but then pose the foot to match as near as possible the pose I want on frame 21, but with the more careful controller use that I can then move on with using in the shot.