/* Style Definitions */
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
Very few lifters give their ankles the attention they deserve. Almost every athletic movement involves the ankle joint, yet they are neglected like the squat at most Globo Gym establishments. Unless you are in the 1% of people that are currently doing something, then the first thing you should do is assess your current range of movement. This should be followed by adding some mobility movements, and finally some dynamic movements further help keep your ankles healthy.
Let’s start with the mobility test. Lay flat on your back with your ankle bones together. Now flex your toes back (dorsiflexion) toward you. If you cannot flex back at all, you have some serious work ahead. Up to one inch of movement is an acceptable range. If you have greater than an inch, you have an optimal range of movement. Now let’s move on to plantar flexion, or pointing the toes away from you. Measuring from your feet being pointed straight at the ceiling, you want at minimum a 20 degree range of motion. If you can get past that then you are the optimal range.
Now that we have a baseline, there are some movements you can use to increase you ankle mobility. Using sitting stretches is a good way to get a positive stretch and you can adjust the range of movement very easily. Start by kneeling. Then tuck your toes under your calves and sit back. Ease into this position. Every time try to push past the last stopping point. The next sitting position starts in the same kneeling position. This time point your toes behind you so as to put the top of your foot flat on the floor. Now sit back against your calves. Ease into this stretch the same way and try to push a little each time.
Self-myofascial release is a great tool to help break up scar tissue and knots that get built up. All the time you spent neglecting the muscle now needs to be broken down manually. Using a lacrosse ball, a stick, foam roller, or Theracane, rub the calf muscles and the tibialis muscles. This will be very uncomfortable if done correctly, but will pay large dividends even after the first run through.
Next you can move on to some dynamic stability movements. First use calf raises including all three foot positions. Double and single leg jumps are very effective. When using these, focus on landing softly.
Start slowly and progress slowly with all of these items. You cannot help increase the joint mobility if you end up straining a muscle because you tried to push too much too fast. Work through these in every other training session and you should be able to see increased mobility and help yourself stay injury free.