Training Tip: Improve Ankle Mobility
Your Achilles Tendon can experience loads upwards of 6-8 times your bodyweight while running [1,2], so when it comes to preparing your body to tolerate such loads, you need alternative ways to build sufficient capacity.
This video demonstrates how we teach a long duration isometric contraction to work on Dorsiflexion Ankle range of motion to improve stability and stress tolerance. Focus on building the stretch and loading the end range of motion by hovering the heel and engaging the toes.
Work up to a 30-60 second hold and repeat for 2-3 sets. You can also couple this exercise with traditional calf raises or your favorite ankle warm up drills.
So for this exercise, you're going to find a slant. You're going to put your foot on there. And as you bend your knee over your toes, you'll start to feel a stretch in the back of your Achilles, your soleus muscle, as maybe as well as maybe a little bit of your calf.
And you're going to slowly gas pedal into the slant so you can hover your heel a millimeter off the ground and then you're going to remove your opposite leg.
And so that you're going to really be loading all of this tissue in the back of the ankle.
That's really going to allow you to engage that tendon and that Achilles in that lengthened position.
Don't let yourself collapse. You'll notice I'm keeping my heel hovered. I should feel constant tension in the back.
And from here, you can even try and press the toes like you're trying to grip the earth while you're maintaining that gas pedal. And you'll notice that really gets a lot more effort going through some of those toe flexors going to the back of that ankle.
1: Giddings, Virginia L., et al. "Calcaneal loading during walking and running." Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 32.3 (2000): 627-634.
2: Clain, Michael R., and Donald E. Baxter. "Achilles tendinitis." Foot & ankle 13.8 (1992): 482-487.
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