SAVE YOUR KNEES, MOBILIZE YOUR ANKLES!
Rasta, pulling off a pretty serious bottom turn. I want you to focus on the rear foot, especially the angle of the lower leg, or the amount of dorsiflexion at the ankle. What the hell is dorsiflexion? It’s movement of pulling your foot/toes towards your knee, and without proper range of motion in that movement, a bottom turn like that will simply not happen. Not only will it just not happen, if you’re lacking proper range of motion, you’re inevitably going to get some seriously pissed off knees. Pissed of knees are going to keep you out of the water, and if not out of the water, they will certainly chip away at your abilities.
So you know what dorsiflexion is now, but why the hell would movement, or lack of movement at the ankle effect the knee. Well folks, the body is engineered with everything interconnected. Everything is everything, a very zen moment. An offset at one joint will affect other body parts up the kinetic chain. The ankle, being damn near the start of the lower body kinetic chain can set of a ton of issues further up the body, with the knee being commonly effected. Again, your body is interconnected, so if it is lacking range of motion at one joint, the body will force or rob movement at another joint. Lacking range of motion, dorsiflexion at the ankle joint, will force the knee to compensate with more movement, and the knee likes to be stable, not excessively mobile. When a joint that is designed to be stable is forced to move excessively, here comes inflammation, tissue damage, and pain….. No bueno, and No surf. This is why I continually harp about thoracic spine mobility for shoulder health. If you’re thoracic spine isn’t moving, it offsets all the joints around it, similarly with the ankle. So to keep your knees healthy, or help to restore your knees to optimum performance, you gotta start looking at the foot and ankle.
The average weekend warrior surfer, is likely sitting at a desk. Sitting at a desk, is without a doubt going to slowly but surely decrease your ankle range of motion (dorsiflexion). Everybody, even the pros, could benefit from increasing ankle mobility. This will not only help to increase performance by allowing more dynamic movement at the ankle, thus allowing for more serious board positions, but it will make huge leaps and bounds at making your body more resilient to injury, especially at the foot and knee. Lack of ankle range of motion will even stop you from being able to squat or lunge efficiently…. think about how that could effect your pop-ups, floater landings, barrel tucking, the list just keeps going. This is an easy one to work on, and if you are at all serious about improving your time in the water, ridding your body of aches and pains, and just making your body more injury proof, then get to work on some ankle mobility. More ankle mobility will be coming in the future, so in the mean time, get your ankles moving properly using the movements in the video and also foam roll the calf area…………… and if you’re a high heel wearing woman, or even man for that matter, put in some double time on this mobilization.