Ankle mobility has been the topic of wide discussion lately, and it’s no wonder why. Ankle injuries are one of the most common in training and sport. Understanding a proper approach to gaining adequate ankle mobility can get lost in the complexity of training the inverters, everters, dorsiflexors, plantarflexors and other stabilizers that control the ankle.
In addition, the system of intrinsic muscles that make up the arches of the foot also play a role in ankle mobility. Furthermore, this does not take into account the relationships of stability and mobility that occur at the knee, hip, and lower back. With so much to consider where do you start in identifying and training an athlete with potential ankle mobility limitations.
As a coach, you want to make sure your workout and coaching program are not limited. This means you have to address any dysfunction that could relate to managing a current injury, readiness of returning to sport and reducing the possibility of re-injury or for an athlete who has never been injured.
AS A COACH, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- It is important for athletes to train together however, knowing each athlete has different patterns and compensations for achieving movement is paramount. They should be grouped prior to sport specific training to address the corrective needs necessary for regaining optimal, functional ankle movement.
- Being a hinge joint, the ankle is designed to move. For this reason, correcting and maintaining any asymmetries to an athlete’s ankle is of great importance. Proper movement should occur at the ankle and hip, which are designed for mobility, while the foot, knee and low back are designed to provide stability. An athlete has greater potential to improve within his sport if the efficiency of mobility and stability are taking place in the correct joints of the body. Utilizing the Functional Movement Screen for identification of ankle mobility restrictions or other asymmetries and dysfunction is essential for developing and correcting improper movement patterns.
- Asymmetries are part of some sports. Baseball, for example, demands differences between the right and left shoulder and track, so the athlete is constantly favoring one side. Those asymmetries are expected, however shoulder should be pain free and within an acceptable range of motion. These asymmetries should not affect the mechanics of the rest of the body’s fundamental movement patterns. These considerations must be taken into account when hitting the weight room or performing skill based movement drills.
- Soft tissue release through foam rolling and mysofascial ball, as well as half kneeling correctives can all improve ankle range of motion. The biggest benefits come from addressing asymmetrical or dysfunctional areas of the body. This allows the ankle to move as it should, instead of as a stabilizer, which if compensating can limit ankle mobility.
Are you, or your athlete struggling with an injury? Come get a Functional Movement Screen and proper corrective exercise program to get you back on the right path with the elite coaches at Velocity Sports Performance.