If your knee pain is getting in the way of your progress, try working on ankle mobility. Complete Athlete tells you why you need it and its benefit to you as an athlete.
Our bodies are made up of joints that have two distinct functions as they pertain to movement. Joints either need mobility or stability for optimal function. If joints that require mobility become less mobile, then typically the joint above it tends to compensate for that inability to move. The ankle happens to be a joint that requires massive mobility for its function in regards to movement. When the ankle loses this ability to move, then it is the knee that compensates for this inability. Transversely, the knee is a joint that requires stability to perform its function within human movement. Asking a joint that requires stability to be mobile is a recipe for disaster. In this regard, it creates instability in the knee which in turn elicits increased opportunity for injury as well as uncomfortable pain.
Two of the knees' main functions are to transmit loads and provide a force couple for human movement. Without adequate stability, our knees are inefficient at allowing these two functions to properly present themselves within our basic movements. It is important to express here that this premise isn’t just relegated to athletic movements, but also to our every day lives. Transmitting loads and force couple movements are present in walking up and down stairs and in sitting and standing; movements done in every single day of most people’s lives.
As a fundamental rule of thumb, mobility should precede stability, and together, the two should precede movement. (Joint by Joint Approach, graycookmovement.com and Advances in Functional Training, Mike Boyle) With that being said, mobilizing the ankle so that the knee is able to remain stable and create even more stability, would allow for movement to be more efficient.
Try adding ankle mobilization drills such as the standing knee over toe or half kneeling knee over toe in your dynamic warm-up in order to increase mobility in your ankles then throw in some Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats or One-legged Deadlifts in your workout a couple of times a week to add strength to your posterior chain and added stability to your knees. As always, some foam rolling techniques before your mobility work is a great place to start for optimizing mobility and activation drills.
Adding these little strategies and exercises to your workout will not only alleviate annoying and debilitating knee pain from your daily life, it will increase glute contribution to your daily activities and help you fill out those jeans quite nicely!
Check back again next Tuesday for more strategies on how to keep your body moving the best it can in order to more freely, move more adequately, and move more pain free. Complete Athlete…always searching for ways to find the inner athlete in all of us!
John Villaro, Fitness & Performance Director
15312 E. Sprague Ave. Suite C Spokane, Valley, WA 99037