Happy Tuesday everyone, hopefully you are all feeling good after the Bear Complex yesterday! Today is Tips for Performance Tuesday and we are going to be talking about ankle mobility. Just like last week’s IT Band post I will explain a little more about why we have been doing so much ankle mobility work in my classes. I have seen a lot of you making some huge improvements and I hope you are seeing the benefits!
Let’s talk about some reasons that your ankle mobility may have degraded over time. The most common and obvious reason for poor ankle mobility is past injuries. Most of us at some point in our lives have probably sprained an ankle or at least rolled it a little too far, some of you have maybe had even more serious injuries. These instances can all lead to a buildup of scar tissue or general tightness in the joint if not properly cared for. Other reasons for mobility restrictions are tight calves or poor posture which can both come from wearing the wrong shoes or poor walking/running technique.
There is a theory in the sports medicine community that the body consists of stacks of joints that alternate between requiring mobility and stability. The ankle requires mobility, the knees stability, the hips mobility, and the lumbar spine requires stability. When someone experiences pain in one of these areas experts typically look up and down the “chain” to diagnose the problem. If one of the mobile joints has poor mobility a stable joint will normally have to compensate which will cause wear and tear on that joint. Probably the most important reason to focus on ankle mobility is to prevent knee pain and prevent knee problems down the road.
The next reason to increase ankle mobility is performance. Increasing ankle mobility will help the ankle bear more weight in power production (like a spring and the concept of potential energy). The more your ankle can move through its range of motion the more power you will be able to generate from your ankles and the less work your hips and knees will have to do. This will greatly increase your efficiency in running, jumping, and in lifts like the squat, jerk, and clean. We tend to do a lot of rowing in the gym and for all of us there is a point where our heels come off the rower in our forward stroke (this is where your ankle mobility ends). The further forward in the stroke you can go without your heels lifting off the rower the more power you will be able to generate through your heels and legs and you will save time by not losing contact with the rower!
Working on your ankle mobility at home can greatly increase your performance in the gym and in life! Not only will your lifts increase but activities like running, walking, hiking, and skiing will become much easier. Below is a video from Dr. Aaron Horschig who runs a great social media account called Squat University. I highly recommend checking his stuff out on Instagram as he puts out some great content regarding injury prevention and performance. Check out this video for some easy ankle mobility work to perform! Thanks for reading everyone, I hope this helps!
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