Mobility For Athletes: Calves and Ankles

The calves and ankles are an often overlooked area when warming up for your training session. They are neglected and traded for the popular hamstrings and hips, but this is a critical mistake that can hold back your athletic performance. Mobile and flexible feet, calves and ankles serve as the base for bottom position stability in your Clean, Snatch and Squat.

Lifts are lost as a result, pain sets in and the cycle continues. The ankles one of the areas that I call the Fundamental Five. Keep the Fundamental Five (more on this in my next post) mobile, strong and flexible and it will translate to stronger, more proficient lifts and a healthier feeling body.

Cues / Setup

  • Start with your foot as flat to the doorway/wall/box as possible and slide your heel to the floor, while keeping your back leg bent.
  • On the exhale, press your back leg forward, while keeping your hips parallel to the box, doorway or wall. You should feel a strong stretch in the upper calf (gastrocnemius).
  • With each exhale press your upper thighs and hips toward the wall, deepening the calf stretch.
  • Hold for a minimum of 40 seconds. The longer the better.
  • Now comes the ankle. Bend the stretched leg while trying to press your knee toward the wall.
  • You will feel the calf stretch release and the ankle stretch engage.
  • Hold again for 30-40 seconds.
  • Switch and do the same on the other side.

Important Things To Note

This stretch can be done both at the beginning and the end of your work out. It is a solid stretch for the gastrocnemius and great for improving your mobility in the ankles. Only go so deep as you feel a solid stretch. Discomfort is expected, but not the point of pain, sharp or otherwise.

When in the stretch, both the calf and ankle variation, do not forget to check your hips and make sure that they are parallel with the wall or box. Don’t worry if at first it doesn’t seem that your knee is getting closer to the box, it is the intention that creates the stretch and will deepen the more you practice.

Do you have an mobility concern or area that you would like to see addressed? Please comment below! 

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.

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