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Ankle Mobility for Injury Prevention

January 31, 2018

Ankle Mobility for Injury Prevention

By Brent Kocal, Founder/Athlete

If you’ve ever suffered from plantar fasciitis, you know it fucking sucks. The immediate pain after rolling out of bed, the constant effort to stretch and roll it out; honestly, “fucking sucks” is probably putting it lightly… If you’ve never had the pleasure of feeling like you’re walking around on a marble covered in LEGOs, I wish you continued luck and success in your training recovery!

Geeking out for a second, plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the connective tissue on the bottom of your foot. Researchers in sports medicine report that 1 in 3 runners suffer from this god-awful ailment every year. One of the primary culprits of this injury is poor ankle mobility – something that plagued me during my 2017 race season.  Ever think to yourself, “I wonder what the Tin Man looks like running around.”? I have some self-recorded videos for you…

In any event, the 2018 season is upon us, which means many of you will be ramping up your running to get in race shape. However, there are plenty of opportunities in your training and recovery methods that may help prevent, and definitely help treat plantar fasciitis. While we’re deathly afraid of the wicked bitch that is plantar fasciitis, I’ve boiled down my methods into this easy-to-understand guide to beating the ailment to help strengthen your ankles for the course.

Please, please, PLEASE understand that I am not a doctor and will never try to provide you with a custom healing method. This is my personal recovery routine. In the physically active and tremendously litigious world of ours, consult your physician prior to trying any physical activity. I’m not a lawyer either, but ours insists you do, too.

DIY Ankle Mobilization

  • Place the web of your hand at point of your of ankle, where the foot meets the bottom of your shin
    • If you’re down for some pain in exchange for faster results, use your thumb to push on the indentation at the top of your foot instead of using the web of your hand.  
  • Push from the front to back, while holding your hand steady
  • Complete 8-10 reps with a 2-3 second hold

Dino-band Ankle Mobilization

  • Place a resistance band at the top of your ankle, where the top of your foot meets the bottom of your shin
  • Step far enough away from where the band maintains tension, but is anchored
  • Lean forward with the knee of your leg with the band attached to it, without lifting your heel
  • Complete 8-10 reps with a 2-3 second hold

Rotation Mobilization

  • Place your hands around one calf and squeeze firmly
  • Keep your foot pointed straight and gently rotate your leg from side to side
  • If this is too painful, stop doing it and go back to the other movements noted above
  • Work to complete 8-10 reps

Don’t forget your friend, the lacrosse ball

Great ankle mobility can be restricted by tight calf muscles; that terrible/amazing feeling you earn after dominating hill repeats. One of the best ways to loosen your calves and increase ankle mobility is to sit on the floor with one leg out in front of you, and place a lacrosse ball under the calf muscle of your extended leg. Roll it around a bit, exploring your muscle and finding the tightest knots. Once you find those tight spots, leave the ball there and flex your foot up and down. This move helps promote ankle mobility throughout the points of flexion you’d experience during the nastiest of elevation gains.

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