Ankle – Flexibility – Mobility & Strength
Breakdown of last week’s information on increasing Mobility and flexibility in the ankle complex-
If you haven’t got a chance to watch the video- you can watch it below before moving on to the information below-
A quick recap above-
I will dive into the 4 movement patterns of the ankle complex- touch base on two important tendons called the peroneal tendons- and explain proprioception and what it actually means.
I will give you some unique exercises to help increase the functionality of the ankle and get it firing on all cylinders.
We are going to break down the next segments into four parts-
1. Walk- Toes, Heels, Eversion
I can’t stress enough how important it is to increase flexibility and strengthen the peroneal tendons- You must remember that these tendons (connect a muscle to a bone) focus on stabilizing and protecting your ankle complex.
One connects to the outside of the midfoot (5th metatarsal) and the other one runs underneath the foot and attaches inside the arch of the foot. Simply walking on your toes, heels and the sides of your feet can help increase- mobility-flexibility and strength in the ankle complex.
Eversion walks- will focus on strengthening and increasing flexibility in the peroneal tendons- (Eversion)
Walking on toes- Walking on the toes strengthens the calf muscles and stretches the frequently shortened toe extensors. (Plantarflexion)
Walking on heels- Walking on the heels stretches the calf muscles and strengthens the foot extensors. (Dorsiflexion)
Key progression –
- Before you move on to walking – start slow- perform in place holding on to a wall or counter for more stability-
How to perform-
- When doing these walks- keep the glutes tight and engage in very small steps- shoulders back and tall chest-perform each walk for 30 seconds to start off- do 2 sets for each walk-
- start by implementing them once a week and can gradually move up to twice a week
2. Bands- Plantarflexion, Dorsiflexion, Inversion & Eversion
As I discussed earlier you have 4 movement patterns of the ankle- plantarflexion where the angle of the ankle increases toes pointing downward- dorsiflexion angle of ankle decreases and toes point towards your shin.
The two you might not be as familiar with which is inversion and eversion. Think of inversion as the inside of the foot moving upward and eversion the outside of foot moving upward- If you focus on band work on all motions of the ankle you can build some serious strength & support.
Here are 4 bands exercises you guys can focus on to increase strength in the ankles.
Key progressions- start with light resistance and increase on a weekly basis- if you are looking to increase muscular endurance reduce resistance and increase rep range- then move on to strength- increase resistance and sit around 8-12 reps. I also recommend sitting down to start off- you can then progress to standing with a one-leg balance and performing these as an advanced progression.
How to perform-
Plantarflexion- sit down with a resistance band and place around the balls of your feet- simply push your toes outward against the resistance- hold for 1-3 seconds and slowly negate back to the starting position.
Dorsiflexion- The band will have to go around something- you can use a table chair leg-pole-or simply tie it around something. You want the resistance going aginst you moving your toes towards your shin. Simply wrap the band right below the toes and point toes outward- then perform dorsiflexion and bring toes and band towards your shin. Hold for 1-3 seconds and slowly negate.
Inversion- Sit down and cross your leg on top of the foot you are going to perform the exercise with. The foot on top will add extra resistance to the band. The foot on the bottom will be moving in an inversion- move ankle against resistance by pushing down and outward-then moving back to a normal position-
Eversion- sit down and grab a band and put on balls of feet on both feet- keep everything still- hips knee- etc- and roll out as far as possible- moving the ankle back and forth outward and inward to starting position and hold for 1-3 seconds-
3. Toe Touches- Circles- Double taps
These next exercises are some of my favorites to incorporate into a training program- especially when it comes to increasing stabilization-balance and opening-up hip mobility.
I know we are focused entirely on the ankle complex but that doesn’t mean you can’t kill two birds with one stone- the idea of the first exercise is to increase mobility in the ankle complex and adding hip abduction-adduction/ flexion and extension. It will challenge your balance and increase functional movement patterns.
This goes for double taps as well- this one is great for adding in hip abduction and adduction and you can also challenge yourself with swings- which you will see in the last movement-
Key progressions- you must be able to have good balance to perform these- I suggest starting off holding onto a pole and getting familiar with tapping the toes in different hip motions- this way you can progress and increase mobility- also if you practice standing one leg balance- this can be progressed to where you are moving as well-
How to perform– The circle toe touches is exactly how it looks. You stand on one leg and you simply perform toe touches around your body while keeping your foot plugged into the ground- on the las touch bend the knee down and perform a semi-squat to reach around your leg. The double taps are just swinging from abduction to adduction of the hip and semi flexion as well. It has increased the flexibility in my hips and ankles tremendously. Perform the circles- one rep is a circle- perform 5 reps- 2 sets. Double taps- 2 taps equal 1 rep- perform 10 reps 2 sets.
4. Calf Raises- Normal-Inversion-Eversion-Holds
I’m going to make this super short and sweet- I am not implying these types of angles will increase muscle recruitment in the calves and increase size what so ever- That is determined by loaded resistance. I am implying that incorporating these types of calf raises will increase strength in the ankle complex and recruit some different muscle fibers to be activated.
Key Progressions- Start off by holding onto a wall to obtain extra stability- then you can progress to balancing yourself so that you can perform them unassisted. Then you can progress into one leg calf raises- in all ways.
How to perform: Normal stance calf raises with eversion- keep glutes tight and lift the heel off ground you want to get as high as possible on the toes- hold the contraction for 1-3 seconds- and then release to the starting point- once you come down you will roll on outside of foot then inward.
Inversion- simply point your toes inward and complete the same process as above. ( 2 sets 15 rep range)
Eversion- simply point your toes outward and complete the same process as above. ( 2 sets 15 rep range)
Holds- simply raise up onto toes and hold the contraction (30 seconds- repeat 2 sets)
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