Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ankle Mobility Drills: Can they Improve Hip Function?

My ankles don't hurt. They are pretty solid and rarely give me problems, but can freeing up some mobility in them help my hips? As I read and understand more about joint mobility and how the body works, I am finding that there is a strong relationship between the ankle and the hip. Mike Nelson answers a question about ankle mobility on the Precision Nutrition website with this:

"There are specific points in the ankle/foot that refer up to muscles in the hip due to the gait (walking) pattern. So if your feet are all gummed up, it messes up muscles further up the kinetic chain."

I had a really awful track workout on Wednesday night. The workout was 200, 400, 800, 1200 and then repeat. I guess my awful days are the days when something feels "stuck" and my hips or leg cannot more correctly and everything is out of whack. I cut out of the last 1200 and tried to stretch and knock the "stuckness" out of my hip. I couldn't but I didn't want to quit the workout so after about 15 minutes of work just went out and did the last 1200 by myself: more as a mental effort than for a physical benefit.

Thursday I didn't run, more because I was at school or doing school related interviews from 7:30 am- 6:00 pm with only about a 20 minute break. I was bushed. Friday my hips were still off. Before running I came upon a different ankle mobility drill. I felt a release and when I went running I felt good. Nothing was "stuck" anymore, although things were not in alignment. I could shift around my stride and try to balance things out. Today's run was just the same, again after concentrating on the ankles. So two decent runs in a row and I am happy.

Here is where you can find the ankle mobility drill. It is on page 2 of a great article called "The Ankle Paradox: Building Indestructible Ankles" by Jimmy Smith, CSCS. Be warned it is on the Testosterone Nation website so be careful where you open it! The drill I did is under the dart board picture on page 2: It says,

"Another option is self-nerve flossing techniques designed to reeducate our nerve firing patterns. This movement is a reminder that any muscle stretch will likely be a nerve mobilization, especially if the movements that place load on the nerve are included. The flossing movement is a body weight-supported mobilization.

In this movement, you'll be standing with the injured ankle close to the opposite leg and rotated inward. Make sure the injured ankle is behind the opposing leg. Push the toes into the floor and twist the foot inward to begin the mobilization. To strengthen the movement, flex the low back and neck slightly

When performing this mobilization, be sure to hold the position for at least ten seconds, as you would during any stretch."

I also found these two ankle mobility drill videos on Youtube. It is easy to see how to do the drills and they are very similar to the Z-Health drills (or are they straight out of Z-Health?). The instructions are clear and the drills are done slower than on the Z-Health instructional DVDs (although it is suggested to do them slower at times). The first clip are beginner drills. The second clip is of intermediate drills. I suggest you look into Z-Health if you like the drills and want to learn more.

When I was learning Egoscue ankle rotations last year. I found that my left ankle could not rotate freely. It was still that way when I started doing Z-Health drills this year. They have restored some mobility and movement beyond what I previously could do, but they are no way as free moving as this guys ankles!

Besides making my stride so I can run more balanced and free, maybe someday with all these drills, and work on mobility, stability, flexibility, balance, and coordination I can do something like this:


Nick said...

I'd say 9 out of 10 times I have worked with someone w/ knee pain they have had poor ankle mobility.

Jim Hansen said... has some great stuff using bands for ankle mobility. Here is one of many of his ankle mobility videos. This works great for me: