Everything starts from the ground up. And its no different with the human body. Ankle mobility is SO crucial for reducing injuries and executing proper form in any athletic and aesthetic pursuit.
Sadly though, the ankle joint is usually the most immobile joint in the normal population. From high heels to high top sneakers we have severely restricted our ankles. Why is that a problem?
Because if we restrict the movement of a joint then that affects the muscles that act on the joint. And vice versa.
Here is a quick anatomy lesson on the muscles that affect the ankle joint. You know that ball of a muscle on the back of your leg? You know the calf, the one you wish was bigger. Well that muscle is called the Gastrocnemius or Gastroc for short. The Gastroc works when your leg and knee is straight. It makes you stand on your tippy toes. Ballet and stuff.
Now behind that ball of the calf or Gastroc, is another muscles. Its called the Soleus. The Soleus works when your leg or knee is bent. When your sitting down and nervously tapping your foot? For simplicity's sake, thats the Soleus.
How do we get our ankles back? If we haven't been foam rolling and stretching our calves already... Well you should be! But thats not enough....
The Problem: Muscles of the calf are made of very dense and tough fibers. So normal foam rolling and stretching don’t improve range of motion as much as we would like.
The Solution: Aggressive Resistance Stretching. Try these stretches:
For the Gastrocnemius
• Calf Raise Machine Stretch (Gastrocnemius)- Hold in the bottom position for about 45-60 seconds.
For the Soleus
• Seated Calf Raise Machine Stretch (Soleus)- Hold in the bottom position for about 45-60 seconds.
Now that you have stretched the ankle, try these 2 exercises back to back as part of your lower body Warmup/Mobility
You’ll be surprised how much better your legs and especially your knees will feel.
Tib Raises - 25 Reps.
These target the Anterior Tibilais muscle. Make sure you are in a good athletic position. Knees straight. Feet closer to the wall is easier. Feet farther from the wall is harder.
FAB (Full Ankle Bend) Calf Raises - 25 reps.
Completely extend yourself so that you have to stretch your calf/ankle. The point here is to mobilize the ankle joint by working the calf through a full range of motion. This means that your heel will be just off the ground. Not touching.
Now you don't have to fear high heels or high tops. Give those stretches a go and see how all your movements from the ground up improve.
P.S. Want to strengthen your ankle? Read this article HERE: