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4.5.2012 – Calf/Ankles/Feet? Here’s your Troubleshoot! (part VII…the Wrap Up!)

Hey all, final post coming your way today wrapping up our series on the Calf/ankle/foot. Lets get right to it.

Here are the previous 6 postings in our series for you to catch up with:

Part I – Introduction
Part II – Anatomy, origins/insertions
Part III – Anatomy, muscle actions
Part IV – Sot Tissue Work
Part V – Mobility Drills, Part I
Part VI – Mobility Drills, Part II

So, as you can recall from reading the previous posts, first, we worked through breaking up restrictions in the form of adhesions and stubborn, necrotic, sticky muscle tissue, and secondly, through systematic mobility drill progressions to regain mobility in all three planes. Finally, today, we will talk about ways we can “cement” those changes that we brought about through soft tissue and mobility work by adding in some integrated “mo-stability” training to the mix. Both of these drills I have covered for you in the past, but is certainly worth revisiting as the progressions we will see today certainly have brought about a lot of success with my clients who have experienced calf/ankle/foot problems.

Without further ado, here they are:

1) Single Leg Balance Star Excursion:

A) What Does it Do?

– By balancing on one leg, maintaining a solid “tri-post” (ball of the foot, 5th metatarsal head, and heal all applying equal force into the ground), the individual will use the non-stabilizing leg as a driver to facilitate acceleration/deceleration into all three planes of movement.

B) When Would You Put This Exercise Into Your Workout?

– Immediately after you do your soft tissue work/ mobility training to open up your calf/ankle/foot. You want to take advantage of the environment you just created (turned on proprioceptors in joint capsules/muscle spindles, created blood flow to working tissue to help flush out necrotic tissue build up, opened up joints to new available ROM).

C) How Can You Progress This Exercise?

– We can make this exercise more difficult or easier by manipulating the following variables:
o Speed (faster or slower)
o Distance or Displacement (decrease or increase the distance of your driving leg)
o Increasing/Decreasing the Lever Length – making the body longer (elevating arms over head, for example) will force the ankle/foot/calf to have to decelerate/accelerate a greater amount of mass, thus making the exercise more challenging.

2) Leap Matrix

A) What Does It Do?

– Adds an unstable component to the Single Leg Balance Star Excursion by adding in a “flight” phase while balancing from one leg to the other. Acceleration and deceleration demands increase as well, as the calf/ankle/foot work to control and balance the movement of the whole body.

B) When Would You Put This Exercise Into Your Workout?

– After you have mastered the Single Leg Balance Star Excursion, and have SUCCESSFULLY tweaked the movement with the progressions listed above regarding speed, distance, and lever length (meaning you’re not falling all over the place!), you can try out the Leap Matrix.

C) How Can You Progress This Exercise?

– Just as before, we can manipulate this exercise to make it more challenging by controlling for the following variables:
o Speed (leaping faster or slower)
o Distance/Displacement (increase/decrease the distance/displacement of your leaps)
o Lever lengths/DRIVERS! (this is a big one…)
 Drivers are important here. There are many ways we can drive tri-planar motion to illicit the desired “load” to the body to increase “mo-stability” at different joint segments. Without going into too much detail, we can employ the following drivers with our arms/torso as we go through the leap matrix:
• Sagittal (reaching forward, reaching Backward behind the head)
• Frontal (reaching over one side of the head, reaching over the other)
• Transverse (twisting over one side of the leg, twisting away to the other side of the leg).

These are just a few of the progressions I’ll use with my clients to help them cement the changes we made with their mobility/soft tissue work. It is important to note that before going all gung-ho with these exercises, it would be very wise for the individual to seek out the help of a qualified trainer who knows how to progress these movements safely to avoid injury…especially if you have had an extensive history of calf/ankle/foot issues.

So there we have it! Our 7 part series is finally finished! Be sure to check in next week as I’ll be switching gears a bit with regards to blog posting… I do recall that back in January there would be a bigger push for exercise video posting, so this will be the direction I want to head in more in the future.

Stay tuned! Have a great Thursday!


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