Don't have the time? Ankle mobility won't improve? Just rigg around the problem.
Want faster changes? Add in drills throughout your day or change your environment.
So you have limited range at your ankles...Now what?
What's breathing have to do with your ankles?
The biggest mistake people make is blindly stretching.
The screen mentioned in our last post (add link) is good for rowers who want a quick pass or fail test. For those who want a more advanced, specific number, here is a way to quantify your ankle range of motion.
Here is an easy to do screen for your ankles. This can be done alone, or in a group setting. All you need is a wall. Conduct the screen with or without shoes. With your foot a fist length away from a wall, kneel and drive your knee towards the wall without allowing your heel to rise from the floor. If your heel stays down, your knee and arch don't collapse, and you touch the wall, you have 40-45 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion (the recommended amount for rowers).
Lacking ankle range of motion? Limitations here will cause issues with compression and body position into the catch. It will also limit the athletes ability to get their heels down quickly (an ideal ability). Common injury potential includes the foot, knee, and back.
Below are some common faults seen in the stroke when the ankles are limited.
We know from several studies that an asymmetry exists in foot pressure on an erg and on the water, whether that be sculling or sweeping.
This asymmetry in foot pressure may affect boat speed and cause a sheering force at the hips and spine. This could contribute to back pain or back injuries.
Symmetrical ankles may play a part in limiting these asymmetrical forces. Asymmetrical ankles may play a part in contributing to these asymmetrical forces.
One study found that high density textured insoles may help rowers balance out foot pressure, increase stroke length, and apply greater force to the footplate. May be worth looking into...
Are your ankles symmetrical?
Blake Gourley holds a Masters of Science in Sports Performance Training and has over 10 years of experience working with rowers. Read more here.