Giving proper attention to the mobility within your feet and ankles will greatly improve and strengthen your bottom position, which often means the difference between a missed or made lift on the platform. Back in December, I wrote about an ankle and calf stretch that focused in on a dorsiflex stretch (Click here to see). Today we are going to stretch the same target areas but in the opposite direction, specifically through plantar flexion, stretching the top of the foot and shin. Stretching both sides is important for the most beneficial results in stretching a muscle and increasing the mobility of a joint. This stretch can be broken down in three parts, with the first option the least intense to the third which is the most intense.
Setup Instructions & Cues
- Begin by kneeling down on the matt with your right knee firmly on the ground.
- Option 1: Sit down while maintaining your left leg straight out in front of you, bending your right leg back until the top of your right foot is flat against the mat. For any yogi's out there, this position is called Half Virasana. If you feel a strong stretch in the top of your right foot while in this position, do not advance into Option 2 or 3. Apply this stretch for 30-45 seconds and repeat for the other side.
- Option 2: If you would like to go deeper, place the palm of your hand on top of your heel. Press your heel into the ground.
- Option 3: This is the most intense stretch so go into it with caution. Place your left hand underneath your right knee while applying pressure with your right hand firmly on top of your heel. Pull up on your knee while applying downward pressure on your heel. Hold here for several breaths.
It's important to maintain a straight back as you draw your belly button toward your spine. Keep your chest open, aligned straight in front of you. Remember to stretch both sides.
This stretch can be done both at the beginning of your work out to open the ankle, feet and stretch your shins. Only go so deep as you feel a solid stretch. Discomfort is expected, sharp pain is not. Enter each option above slowly as you decide which stretch is most beneficial for your experience level.
Sandra Arechaederra has actively practiced yoga for years but maintains a focus on its application for improving athletic performance. Sandra is an accomplished Olympic weightlifter in her own right, having medaled at the 2010 USA National Championship Meet, she continues her work with the California Strength weightlifting team on a weekly basis for mobility training and runs a mobility program implemented with the California Strength NFL Combine Prep Class every year. Sandra has her 200 RYT credential as a certified Yoga Teacher.