Ankle Mobility: A Brief Overview
In a previous post, we covered a self-guided assessment to see if you have adequate ankle mobility. If you have yet to watch that video or read about the assessment, you can do that here.
In the video below, we cover a strengthening exercise to eccentrically lengthen the calf musculature, the eccentric calf lowering drill. This exercise is an amazing way to increase your ankle mobility through strength training. But for those of you that like to read, we will also explain via this blog post as well.
If you did not have a joint-pinching sensation in the ankle self-assessment, but were unable to achieve 3-5 inches, OR you had significant stretching in the back of your calves, then you would benefit from this eccentric ankle mobility strengthening exercise.
Eccentric Calf Lowering
Eccentric is a fancy term to describe the action of a muscle actively lengthening. Eccentrics are shown by research to be one of the best ways to gain strength. It is also shown to do the most muscular damage on a microscopic level. But do not worry, this muscular damage allows for a positive adaptation and increase in muscular strength and length.
Essentially, the purpose of this eccentric calf lowering exercise is to build strength AND mobility in your entire range of motion. And to expand that range of motion by actively using your antagonist muscles. Read below to further understand the exercises.
Start with your toes on a object that is elevated a few inches off of the ground. Perform a typical calf raise using your gastrocnemius muscle. Once at the top, slowly and controllably lower your heel to be parallel to the ground. Once that foot becomes parallel to the ground, actively use the muscles on the front of your shin to pull your knee forwards as far as you can. Next, straighten your knee and perform another calf raise. Repeat this slowly for 15-20 repetitions. Repeat on both legs if necessary.