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Emily Mattes
12-03-2008, 08:44 PM
Does anyone have any ankle/calf flexibility and mobility routines? Both the mobility and flexibility of my ankles is horrendous and the work I'm doing on them is not paying off in any meaningful way.

Things I have tried:
- Calf-stretching linked in this post. (http://sanfranciscocrossfit.blogspot.com/2008/11/your-calves-are-tight-bro.html) My ankles are so tight and immobile I can't get any grip from the ball of my foot on the wall--my foot slips down before I'm able to obtain any sort of stretch.

- Calf-stretching leaning against the wall and hanging off a stair or ledge

- Sitting in the bottom of a squat with a weighted bar on my knees

- Sitting in the bottom of a squat and leaning on one ankle and then the other

Part of it is my flexibility down there is poor. The other part looks like it's a mobility issue, as I feel a "pinch" in the front of my ankle before I really feel a stretch. This is weird because I've never injured the area. I did competitive swimming for a long time which made them super-flexible in the opposite direction (like pointing the toe)--could hypermobility of the joint in one direction caused decreased mobility in the opposite direction?

Or maybe I just need to keep working at it . . .

Steven Low
12-04-2008, 01:06 AM
Yeah, my previously sprained ankle has some nerve pinching going on in there but only when I do soleus stretching (bent knee). Gastroc (straight leg) seems to be fine, but then again you need the bent knee ankle flexibility in Oly so...

It may not necessarily be hypermobility = bad mobility the other way. Could be. But could also just be not-so-great genetic bone structure. No way to really tell I think.

I would try to keep on stretching it then ice it down to prevent any inflammation. At least that's what I'm going to keep on trying. Do the soleus stretch and get down in an asian squat and move around. That seems to work the best from my experience.

Chris H Laing
12-04-2008, 03:37 AM
Part of it is my flexibility down there is poor. The other part looks like it's a mobility issue, as I feel a "pinch" in the front of my ankle before I really feel a stretch. This is weird because I've never injured the area. I did competitive swimming for a long time which made them super-flexible in the opposite direction (like pointing the toe)--could hypermobility of the joint in one direction caused decreased mobility in the opposite direction?


Thats exactly the same problem i've been having. I used to swim competitively, and when I try to stretch my ankles i feel the same sensation on top of my foot and front of ankle.

I've been stretching the crap outta my ankles for the last week, but have seen no improvement because it seems like every time i try to stretch my calves they get super tight, and remain that way for hours, so im also interested to see what suggestions people have.

Allen Yeh
12-04-2008, 04:14 AM
Have any of you found soft tissue work to be of help down there? Like using a foam roller or tennis ball or lacrosse ball.

When doing the stretches that Kelly mentioned are you keeping your shoes on? I tried doing them sans shoes and found the same issue you're describing, I couldn't keep my foot on the wall to save my life. As soon as I slipped my shoes back on, it worked better. I'm still finding the bent leg version awkward because when I'm tensing the calf I have a tendency to straighten my leg.

Allen Yeh
12-04-2008, 04:41 AM
From Kelly's blog:

Place a block or piec of foam up under your foot for support.
If your foot is slipping could also be tight ankle capsule.
Go see a good pt for a little breathing room.

kstar

Kris Reeves
12-04-2008, 06:13 AM
Have any of you found soft tissue work to be of help down there? Like using a foam roller or tennis ball or lacrosse ball.

Yes! Two Lacrosse balls/tennis balls to work on the soleus.

For example, if you're working on the right calf...
sit on the floor
get the left leg out of the way
put your right leg as if you were going to sit cross-legged
now, put one ball under the calf muscle right in the middle (middle meaning the distance between your ankle and knee).
use the other ball on top...pressing/rolling/kneading it to massage the soleus.
keep arms straight and manipulate the top ball with the heel of your hand.
you can increase/decrease intensity by controlling how deep you 'lean' into it.

Kris Reeves
12-04-2008, 06:22 AM
just re-read my post...if this makes no sense I'll try to take/post pictures later today.

Emily Mattes
12-04-2008, 07:16 AM
No, I haven't tried foam rolling with a tennis ball, I'll try that for a while and see if it works.

Garrett Smith
12-04-2008, 08:05 AM
Your ankle flexibility issue could definitely have fed into the problematic rack position that led to your wrist injury, this is likely a very worthwhile pursuit for you.

Donald Lee
12-04-2008, 12:50 PM
You could try the stretch with your foot hanging off the edge of a curb. I was doing this two days ago, as I locked myself out of my car after a workout and had nothing else to do. The slipping off the wall issue is not there with this version.

I did it both standing and leaning against my car. Both worked very well.

Steven Low
12-04-2008, 01:25 PM
You could try the stretch with your foot hanging off the edge of a curb. I was doing this two days ago, as I locked myself out of my car after a workout and had nothing else to do. The slipping off the wall issue is not there with this version.

I did it both standing and leaning against my car. Both worked very well.
She did.. off a step and against a wall.

Ken Urakawa
12-04-2008, 02:24 PM
FWIW, I use a billiard ball for calf work. The tennis balls are just too squishy, and don't dig in there enough. Golf balls are a little too small. And I didn't have a lacrosse ball laying around...

There are some active ROM stretches against the wall that I've used in the past, I think I got them from the NASM bag o' tricks. I'll see if I can dig them up later.

Emily Mattes
12-04-2008, 04:11 PM
That would be great Ken, thanks.

Garrett, I think you might have me confused with Rachel!

Garrett Smith
12-04-2008, 04:13 PM
Oh, my bad. Apologies.

Allen Yeh
12-30-2008, 04:49 AM
Bumping this thread with this:

http://ericcressey.com/frozenanklesuglysquatting

It's been almost a month have you made any progress with your ankles?

Garrett Smith
12-30-2008, 05:33 AM
Nice post, Allen.

Emily and Chris, if you do truly have an anatomical issue in the ankle and you want to do OL a lot, you may need to stick with higher-heeled OL shoes, front squats, and box back squats (to a depth that your ankle flexibility allows good form, if the high heeled OL shoes don't let you back squat normally).

Emil Nielsen
12-30-2008, 08:49 AM
I can only say one thing get some barefoot science soles.

I have a Thread regarding Squat Depth with my hips hurting and ankles refusing to go anywhere. I had tried everything and used the advice i got from people and none of it worked. It still hurted like **** when i squatted down. So it just gave up and dropped it. I then brought the soles and gave them a try and now there is no pain at all in my hips and my ankles has opened up. Im only using level 2 of the implants you put in the sole.

I had worked the squat for a year or so and starting to feel a bit deformed :) No matter what I did nothing helped (mobilty and flexibility stuff) Im litteraly a enclopedia of t-nation mobility articles) And then im change soles in my shoes and after a month it just stopped. Im still not mobile enough to squat all the way down. But now its just stretching and using the advices i got in my previous post.

Blair Lowe
12-30-2008, 11:32 AM
For myself and the kids I coach I generally do this in our WU/joint mobility/prevention:

Heel toe raises. On ground if we can't get access to doing them on the beams ( forefoot on beam, heels off ). We 10 feet together, heels together toes out, toes together heels out, 10 on each foot with the other leg in the air.

Sometimes we do heel to toe walks if we have room. We also practice walking on the foot on the outside edge for say 20-40 feet and walking on the inside of the foot. Then we roll our foot from outside to inside and back 15x.

We generally do foot circles both ways 10x.

We hop 40 feet across lines on the floor side to side with the arm circling backwards. This is coordination and warmup for the next drill. Small hops building strength for the next drill which is hopping on one foot for distance. Depending on the height of the gymnast, it's good to do 6 hops across the floor, maybe 7 or 5. We do 1 or 2 passes of these on each foot. Very important to build up that ankle strength for tumbling and vault.

Also bare in mind, that for the last 30 years, I've probably been barefoot 75% of that time or more. I never liked shoes or socks. I wear sandals when I have to outside if it's cold ( cold feet on concrete or asphalt is bad because it sucks away your body heat ) and I've been lucky as a gym coach to generally be bare foot when I'm coaching though I have worked other jobs at the same time requiring shoes or dress shoes.

My ankles are probably very mobile but weaker than I would prefer since doing the one foot bounds for distance usually show they are weak. I've also rolled my ankles tumbling a lot which is common for gymnasts and this has required time off from doing stuff on feet and landings.