Does your foundation have cracks?
If you’ve truly been doing all of the right things CONSISTENTLY for awhile, which really means more than 4 weeks at least, and results are just not adding up like they should be, you’re missing a weak link.
Very often our first focus is near the point of pain, which is a good place to start.
Especially with SI joint, hip or lower back pain.
Because underactive glutes are an all too common culprit.
But what if you’re doing hip mobility work and glute activation, and even feeling the right muscles working, BUT things just don’t seem to be “sticking.”
What’s going on?
This is when you need to start looking at compensations and imbalances up and down your body that may be creating the perpetual overload.
It also means addressing any PREVIOUS INJURIES.
And one all too common injury people tend to forget about is the ANKLE SPRAIN.
If overload is being perpetuated, even while doing the right moves with the right recruitment patterns (assessing recruitment patterns should be one of the FIRST things you do when doing the “right moves”), you need to address previous injuries you may not have considered before…
Specifically ankle injuries when it has to do with hip, knee or lower back pain and the hip mobility and glute activation work isn’t sticking.
There is a very important ankle-butt connection we often don’t recognize (and yes…this is my very highly technical term for it hehe)
Ankle injuries are too often overlooked because…
Often we FORGET about ankle injuries because how could something years ago be affecting us now!?! (People won’t mention them to their physio or trainer).
AND…Often we don’t properly REHAB the ankle injury NOR do we continue doing PREHAB for it once it’s “better.”
We return to working out like nothing happened and often things seem absolutely fine.
But what we don’t realize is that injuries create disruptions in our mind-body connection AND that, all too often even very slight movement distortions, lead to overload and imbalances.
Sometimes when I bring up previous ankle injuries to clients, they’ll even say, “Yea but I had no issues after that…Just the knee pain or hip pain years later.”
(This is where I would make a face that combines both the eye roll emoji and that emoji with the line mouth and lines for eyes.)
Ok…IF YOU HAD A PREVIOUS INJURY YOU NEVER TOOK CARE OF AND NOW HAVE INJURIES ON THE SAME SIDE, THEY ARE PROBABLY CONNECTED.
Plain and simple.
And yes…they can finally rear their freaking ugly heads YEARS, legit YEARS, later.
So you can’t ignore that ankle injury you may have even had a decade ago.
If you never worked to restore proper mobility and strength, if you never re-establish that interrupted mind-body connection, well…it’s like leaving a crack in your foundation.
Things may not fall apart instantly, but if you don’t take care of that crack, other issues will spread throughout your structure slowly until it all collapses.
While your ankle may no longer be in pain, and it may “seem” like nothing is wrong there, a lack of pain isn’t a sign of optimal functioning.
BUT it is why, all too often, we ignore these other areas.
This is honestly why I included foam rolling, stretching and activation series in the Glute Camp for the feet and ankles. I figured including them was the best way to get people doing what they often didn’t even realize they needed to do hehe
If you’ve been ignoring your foundation, start giving it some TLC with these 3 moves to get you started.
3 Moves To Take Care Of Your Feet And Ankles
These three moves will help you start to relax commonly overactive muscles and strengthen weaker muscles to improve your foundational stability.
Peroneal Foam Rolling:
Knee, ankle and foot pain (yes this muscle can lead to flat feet even!) can all be related to this muscle. Yet it is a muscle we often ignore because…well…it isn’t exactly where the pain is!
It is an important muscle to pay attention to because if just one side becomes short and overactive, which is foam rolling is so important for this muscle, it can lead to a functional leg length discrepancy (aka you may “think” one leg is shorter when it is actually muscle tightness causing the symptoms) and a weight shift during bilateral movements.
This can perpetuate compensations and overload, leading to injuries all the way up the other side even!
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. Press down on your lower leg with your hand to apply more pressure so that the ball digs in.
Then move your leg so that you roll the ball down the length of the side of your lower leg.
Hold on any tight spots and even make small circles on the ball with your lower leg to dig into any tender areas. You can also circle the ankle while holding on any tight spots.
To hit slightly different angles along the side of your shins, rock forward a bit (toward your shin) or backward (toward you calf).
Work your way up to just below your knee and then down to a few inches above the anklebone.
Kneeling Foot Stretch To Bear Squat:
This stretch can help if you’ve ever had plantar fasciitis or limited ankle mobility and Achilles issues.
What we often don’t realize is that even our BIG TOE can get “locked up.”
This stretch will work to relax and lengthen the muscles under your feet as well as work to 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 the Kneeling Foot Stretch to Bear Squat, start kneeling on the ground with your feet flexed. Sit back on your heels. Rock side to side to stretch your feet.
Then place your hands down on the ground and press 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.
Feel a nice stretch down your calves and even up into your hamstrings. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then drop back down to your knees and sit back on your heels again to stretch your feet.
Make sure that as you drive your butt up, you are pressing yourself back so that your driving your heels down. Don’t simply pike up and lower back down. Actually drive back and feel the stretch down your calves.
You can walk your hands in just a little bit closer to your knees to help you feel the stretch a little bit more, but do not walk them in too close.
Calf Raise Circles:
Calf Raise Circles can strengthen your feet and help you improve your ankle stability. Often when we do basic calf raises, we aren’t conscious of compensations we even perpetuate with them.
But by doing the circles, you are focusing on moving across your foot to engage all the muscles correctly and not just perpetuate patterns of overuse.
To do Circle Calf Raises, start standing with your feet about hip-width apart. You can face a wall or table if you need a little help balancing so that you can really focus on circling.
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 come 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. Really feel yourself getting as big a circle as you can while feeling your calves work to help you come up onto your toes. In order to really circle, you may need to lightly keep your hand on the wall.
If you want even more moves to strengthen your foundation, as well as great glute activation moves to help you prevent lower back, hip and knee pain, check out my Glute Camp!