As the forgotten and neglected uncle of the leg family, the ankle is a joint as detailed as any in the body. Containing 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons it's clearly not as simple as it may look.
Add in the fact, that it takes on massive forces with landing exercises such as box jumps, cleans, snatches and many other movements found in CrossFit and Olympic Lifting, it's commonly the undiscovered culprit of injuries to the knee, hip and back.
Just like your favourite winter jacket, you expect it to be ready to go all the time and act like new, with years of abuse and little to no care or love.
What we need is a concoction of mobility drills, proprioceptve drills and stability drills to nail all facets that are important in getting our ankle ready for training.
Neglect our base platform, and you run the risk that 'the force' will be transferred up the leg into the knee, hip and or back, resulting in guilty charges being layed upon innocent areas.
Here are 5 simple drills to get your ankle ready for training these cold winter months.
Remember if you're suffering from ongoing ankle issues, or any other training injuries/pain make sure you make an appointment with one of Evolutio's Physiotherapists here in Melbourne who specialise in the above training. New clients receive $20 off their Initial Session.
Calf Muscle Foam Rolling
Lifting yourself up from the ground, putting one leg over the other and rolling back and forth, side to side, will start to release the calf muscles. Soleus and Gastrocnemius sit here, tightness here will restrict the ankle into dorsiflexion (toes towards you) and cause extra loading through the Achilles tendon.
Plantarfascia Trigger Ball rolling
A senstive soul the plantarfascia can be, but releasing it can help with your foots proprioception, we suggest getting a small ball and rolling your foot around like your making a ball of dough with your hand. If you can do both at the same time, we salute you.
banded assisted dorsiflexion and resisted plantarflexion
One of the old staples. Given to many with ankle issues and post injury, this beauty helps improve dorsiflexion range very quickly, whilst helping to activate the plantarfexors.
Hold the band tightly around your foot, pull the toes back, then add further tension to the band, release the band slightly and push your toes away. Repeat multiple times for good measure.
3 Point Calf Stretch and Ankle Mobilisation
For those in the know. The ankle moves back and forth (dorsiflexion and plantarflexion) but also moves sideways (inversion, eversion). This 3 point drill will improve both areas.
Start in the normal calf stretch, hands on the floor, with one foot on the floor and the other on top, start straight on, then move the bottom foot from left to right and back to the center in any order, Repeat multiple times, then change legs.
Place a selection of weights in a small circle making sure you're standing in the middle so you can reach every weight with both feet.
Take a slight bend into the stance knee (weight back on the heel of course), to activate the hip stabilisers then proceed to touch the hours of the clock with one leg, switch over, repeat on the other to warm up. If done in partners on the second switch, one partner can yell the hour of the clock that he wants the athlete to touch, repeat for 30-45 seconds then switch.
This drill is guaranteed to aid stability and proprioception in the ankle, and activate both the quads and hip stabilisers for further training.
Done. Your ankle has been serviced and is now ready to go. Credits to Brett Wiener for modelling and helping put together these exercises.