From the previous blog, if you find you have any restriction in joint mobility should be the first area to address.
2. Foam Roll
During the ankle mobility screen, a “pinching” sensation felt in the front of the ankle indicates a bony block. These types of restrictions will not resolve with conventional stretching and foam rolling. Therefore, any pinching sensation or bony bock must be addressed first before moving onto possible soft tissue stiffness
One of the easiest and best ways to improve joint restrictions on your own is to use a band mobilisation.
Band distraction joint mobilisations assist with the way our bones glide over each other. A joint glide is sustained while the athlete actively moves into the specific range-of-motion we are trying to change. If we look at the ankle, the talus bone of the foot moves backwards as the shin moves forward into dorsiflexion as we squat. In order to help improve this movement to increase mobility, the band must help push the talus bone backwards. Often athletes will have the band placed too high on the ankle. This backwards pull on the tibia will actually do the opposite of what we want to achieve.
Once joint restrictions have been addressed the next step is to clear up any soft tissue stiffness. This starts with using a foam roller. I usually recommended athletes spend at least 2 minutes on each area they are trying to address with a foam roller. Every athlete should foam roll on a daily basis!
Physical Therapist Dr. Mike Reinold has an excellent video demonstrating this technique on youtube.
SOFT TISSUE STRETCHING
Once foam rolling is complete, stretching the muscles is the next step to addressing soft tissue restrictions. The heel drop stretch is a good go-to in order to make some quick improvements. Before starting your workout, using this stretch after foam rolling is a great way to decrease any amount of stiffness in the lower leg.
Another version of this stretch is one I like to use prior to training sessions that include any form of barbell squatting. It is very position-specific and therefore has good carry over to the exact movements we are going to perform. To start, drop into a deep squat. This can be performed with either a kettle bell, a weighted plate, or a barbell. From this position, shift your weight onto one foot. Push you knee as far forward over your toe until you feel a stretch in the lower calf. After holding for ~10 seconds, shift to the other leg.
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