Here's the final installment of my series "Sweat the Small Stuff", dealing with ankle mobility. Hope you find it useful.

Coach Mike

Sweat the Small Stuff
Part IV: Ankle Mobility
by Mike Mejia CSCS

As we come to the final installment of this series, my hope is that it's given you an appreciation for the tremendous impact that training some of the lesser-worked areas of your body can have on your overall athleticism. Although it may not be as glamorous as doing things like heavy squats, flipping tires and flinging medicine balls, making a concerted effort to strengthen your neck, and deep hip musculature, as well as improving mobility around your ankles and wrists, can go a long way towards improving performance and preventing injury.

Take the present topic for instance. Ankle mobility (or more accurately, a lack thereof) is a huge problem for many young athletes. When you lack proper range of motion (and strength) of the area surrounding the ankle joint, you leave yourself much more susceptible to injury. This holds especially true in a sport like lacrosse with all of its quick starts, stops and rapid changes of direction.

The important thing to realize, however, is that while ankle mobility has gotten the lion's share of the attention in recent years, as an athlete, you also need a certain amount of stability to exist in the joint as well. After all, it does you no good to have an ankle that's hyper-mobile which can lead to more frequent strains and sprains; yet you also don't want the joint to be so stable that it makes it difficult to move efficiently.

So in essence, there's really a continuum that exists between ankle mobility and stability that is constantly changing, depending on the types of movements that you're executing at the time. In the videos that follow, you'll find a variety of drills designed to address this fact.

After starting off with a great drill to improve soft tissue quality, I'll go on to show you one of my favorite ways to increase range of motion around the joint, that you can do right on the field as part of your pre-game warm-up. I'll also feature some easy to execute, yet brutally effective strengthening drills that will help lessen your likelihood of suffering an ankle injury.

In the end, I think you'll find that adding these drills to your current training program a few times per week will pay huge dividends. After a while you should find that you're not only moving faster and with greater efficiency on the field, but you should also see an improved ability to perform exercises like squats, olympic lifts and various types of lunges when training in the gym.

Not bad for targeting an area that many of you may have previously regarded as being relatively insignificant.