In our first post of this series we explained the importance of being able to move through your ankle and the affect that not being able to do this might have on increased risk of injury. In our second video blog we then showed you a way of assessing your own ankle, to try and see if you have sufficient movement and if not what might be the problem. As promised this final part of the blog will be looking at some exercises to try and help improve your movement.
Before we go any further it is important to stress that when doing any of the techniques below it is vital not to have any pain, in the ankle particularly. There is no question that some people will describe stretching as painful, but we would normally describe this as a “good pain” i.e. one that is controlled, not sharp and not increasing during the stretch. It is also important to say that if you have had a recent injury or operation in the area you should consult a medical professional before doing any of the below exercises.
With that said the first exercise that we want to highlight is a lower calf stretch. Often when people stretch their calves they only stretch one of the two muscles and typically the less important of the two. The stretch in the first video below outlines a stretch for the Soleus muscle or lower calf, which is more directly linked to the ankle movement that we have been talking about than that of the upper calf stretch that people are more commonly aware of.
The second exercise is a technique to help improve the motion at the ankle when we suspect that the ankle itself is a bit stiff. In this technique we are encouraging the correct type of movement by using the other leg to create some momentum, which gently moves the ankle on the standing leg back and forwards. The key here is that it is not a stretch nor is it a case of ‘cracking’ it back into place. It is something that gently encourages movement in the right direction which will have a gradual effect over the course of a few weeks.
The final technique is one that focusses on the fascia that surrounds the muscles. Fascia is the tissue that helps to encase and connect muscles and it can in a similar way to the muscle itself get tight. The resolution of this involves a foam roller which you can purchase from any good retailer (see picture below).
In regards to using this, the key is to ensure that you are not moving too quickly, which is a common mistake that we see. Typically it should take approximately 10 seconds to move up the length of the calf muscle. You should then consistently roll the muscle for 30-60 seconds. This will again cause a certain amount of pain but you can moderate this by taking the weight through the arms and opposite leg so that you can to an extent relax enough for the technique to have the desired effect.
Hopefully the series of blogs over the last three weeks has given you an insight into the importance of your ankle movement, as well as an understanding of the potential reasons for poor movement and finally some strategies to dealing with it. As always if you have any questions or comments please get in touch.
If you think that you have stiffness in this area that is causing or has caused a problem then
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