The following post was contributed by certified golf fitness professional Ian Manning, owner and operator of Orthocore Physical Therapy in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Golf Off-Season Workout Routine: Ankle Mobility
When it comes to the golf swing there are three main areas of mobility (motion), the ankle, the hips and your torso/shoulders. For this post I want to review why the ankle joint is so important for the golf swing. I will then show you how to improve your ankle mobility to optimize your golf swing. Ready!? Here we go!
The ankle joint is vital to the golf swing and I think frequently over looked. Your foot and ankle complex is the only thing connecting you to the ground. Any small loss in motion at this joint can cause you to lose your stability (which we all know is very important in the golf swing) and take you off plane. Tiger Woods actually battled with ankle stiffness early in his career. He would frequently be seen stretching his ankle between holes on a bench to make sure that he stayed loose. More recently, tightness in Paul Casey’s ankles lead to his toe pain. The ankle moves forward and back but also side to side. All these motions are required during the golf swing and can affect it more than you would think.
To test your ankle motion forward and back you want to get into a half kneeling position. Shift your weight forward driving your knee directly over your toes. You should be able to get your knee about 5 inches past your toes. Make sure your knee does not dip in and your heel does not come up off the ground, that’s cheating!
To test the side to side motion of your ankle have a seat and place your fists between your knees. Roll your foot in and out without allowing your knees to come off your fists. You should be able to easily roll onto the outside edges of your feet without moving your knees.
Not that we have assessed your motion we need to know how to improve it. If you have a restriction moving forward/back perform these exercises (one should look familiar).
Get into a kneeling position and drive your knee past your toes until you feel a stretch. Keep your heel on the ground. Hold 3 seconds and perform 15 repetitions.
Stand against wall with heels, hips, shoulders, and head touching the wall. Slide down the wall keeping your knees tracking over your toes until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles. Hold 3 seconds and perform 15 repetitions.
If you have a restriction moving your ankle in and out perform these exercises.
Sit on a table/bed with your foot on a stability ball. Stabilize your knee with your hands. Roll your foot in and out on the ball. Go as far as you can until you feel a stretch in your foot. Hold 3 seconds and perform 15 repetitions to each side.
Stand with your knee slightly bent and your opposite foot back. Roll your foot in and out (flatten your arch and create an arch) as far as you can without allowing your knee to move much. Hold 3 seconds and perform 15 repetitions in each direction.
You should start to notice improvements in your ankle mobility in about a month if you are diligent in performing the exercises. If you work on it and don’t notice an improvement its time to go see someone, i.e. a Physical Therapist, Chiro, DO. Sometimes a loss in motion cannot be fixed by stretching alone. These specialists will be able to further assess where your restriction is coming from and what else needs to be done to correct it.
The ankle complex is VERY important to the golf swing. If you noticed that you have restrictions it could be what is causing your swing faults and affecting your game. Hopefully improving the motion in your ankle with help improve your game on the course. Thank you for reading and please contact me with any questions.