Suffering from hip pain?
Frustrated because you feel like you’re doing all the proper rehab work, foam rolling and stretching the muscles around your hips while activating your glutes, but nothing seems to be adding up?
What if that’s because the original culprit of your pain, the area that lead to the overload, is not anywhere near your hip?
What if you keep overloading the same muscles because of a mobility restriction or instability at your foundation?
What if it’s even the result of an ache or pain from over a decade ago?
Like say that ankle sprain you never really did anything about and just rested until it felt better?
What if the whole cause of your hip pain is due to that Ankle-Butt Connection?!
Before I discuss how to improve your ankle mobility and stability to alleviate and prevent your hip aches and pains, I want to discuss that ankle-butt connection and why it’s so important.
The Importance Of The Ankle Butt Connection:
Your feet and ankles are your foundation.
Immobility or instability there can create movement compensations up your entire kinetic chain, resulting in not only hip but even knee, lower back and SI joint aches and pains.
Especially immobility or instability due to a previous injury.
When we get injured, there is a disruption to our natural recruitment patterns or our mind-body connection.
We often aren’t able to call on muscles as efficiently or effectively as we once could, unless we take time to rebuild.
Also, we often compensate as we avoid using the area to rest it, limping around or using crutches, and then, when we first get back to training, we all too often just jump right back in as if nothing happened.
But there have been changes potentially to our ankle range of motion and our ability to stabilize that we can’t ignore, even if there is no longer pain.
It’s why an ankle injury from years ago we’ve forgotten about can later lead to hip pain.
Without knowing it, we’ve created a crack in our foundation that is now affecting our entire structure.
It’s why you NEED to make sure to re-establish that proper mind-body connection.
And in the case of previous ankle injuries and issues, that means addressing not only your ankle mobility and stability but also the impact that ankle injury had on your GLUTES!
A 2006 study found that subjects with chronic ankle sprains had weaker hip abduction strength on the involved side. (1)
We have to remember that everything is connected. And perpetual overuse builds up to issues over time.
So while you may be wishing you could go back in time right now and address the injury when it happened, it’s still not to late to do the prehab work you need!
What are 3 moves you can do to improve your ankle mobility and stability so all of your glute activation work actually pays off?
3 Ankle Mobility And Stability Moves:
Move #1: Peroneal Foam Rolling:
Peroneal tightness can be linked to flat feet and ankle mobility restrictions which can lead to your knee collapsing in during exercises like the squat.
This compensation can lead to your TFL becoming overloaded and overworked and your glute medius activation work not paying off!
It is an important muscle to pay attention to because if just one side becomes short and overactive, which is why foam rolling is so important for this muscle, it can lead to a functional leg length discrepancy (you may “think” one leg is shorter when it is actually muscle tightness causing the symptoms) and a weight shift during bilateral, or two-legged, movements.
To roll out your Peroneal, a ball or small roller works best although you can use a larger foam roller.
Take a ball and place it on the ground with the side of your lower leg on top, starting just below the outside side of your knee.
Press your lower leg down into the ball with your hand.
Hold and relax. You can even circle your foot and ankle to help the muscle relax and release.
Then move it to another spot slightly lower down on your lower leg.
Move #2: Bear Squat To Foot Stretch:
What we often don’t realize is that even our BIG TOE can get “locked up.”
And that lack of mobility can not only impact our lunging but even our walking and running.
That’s why the Bear Squat to Foot Stretch is so key to include.
It will stretch our your toes and improve your calf flexibility and ankle mobility, improving specifically your dorsiflexion (your ability to bring your toes closer to your shin).
This stretch can even help you SQUAT deeper if you’ve felt like your range of motion when squatting is limited.
To do this stretch, start kneeling on the ground with your feet flexed. Sit back on your heels. Rock side to side to stretch your feet.
Then lean forward and place your hands down on the ground. Push your butt up into the air, driving your heels down to the ground.
Relax your calves and try to get your heels down to the ground. You can pedal your feet to focus on each side independently.
Pause then lower your knees back down to the ground and sit back on your heels.
Make sure that as you drive your butt up, you are pressing yourself back so that your driving your heels down.
You can walk your hands in just a little bit closer to your knees to help you feel the stretch a little bit more too.
If you can’t sit back on your heels from that kneeling position, you can do a version of this against the wall barefoot. Place the ball of your foot on the wall to extend your toes.
Then drive your knee forward toward the wall keeping your heel on the ground. Pause then relax out and repeat.
Move #3: Calf Raise Circles:
When you do the basic calf raise, have you ever noticed you tend to rock out on your feet? Or maybe you slightly rock in?
These compensations can result in there still being instability, or even overworked muscles, in your lower leg.
That’s why I love Calf Raise Circles.
This variation is a great way to make sure you’re improving your ankle stability while addressing each aspect of your lower leg.
To do Circle Calf Raises, start standing with your feet about hip-width apart. You can face a wall or table or hold on to a pole if you need a little help balancing so that you can really focus on circling.
Don’t get ego in this move and end up rushing through just because you’re trying not to hold on.
Then start to circle by rocking to the outside of your feet. Slowly come forward toward your pinky toe. Then come up onto your toes slowly circling from your pinky toe toward your big toe.
Come up as high onto your toes/balls of your feet as you can.
Then reach your big toe and circle in toward the inside of your feet as you lower your heel down.
Then come back up, this time starting with the big toe and circling out toward your pinky toe before coming down on the outsides of your feet.
Repeat circling back up and in.
To progress this move, try extending the range of motion, performing it off a plate weight or step.
But really focus on feeling each part of that circle!
Create a solid foundation by using these 3 moves to improve your foot and ankle mobility and stability. It can help you prevent the overload perpetuating your hip pain!
For a great 5 minute foot and ankle mobility series using these 3 moves, and some other bonus ones, check out this series – The 5-Minute Foot And Ankle RStoration Series.