The anterior tibialis is the large muscle that runs down your shin. It helps stabilize your ankle when your foot hits the ground. The posterior tibialis comes from behind the shin to stabilize your lower leg and help you flex your foot from the ankle. The gastroc-soleus is the group of calf muscles that helps you point your toes.
When you feel tightness in your ankles, it's usually because one of those muscles is weak or overactive, according to Mac Calloway, strength coach for the University of Miami volleyball team. Combine the elements of the game [jumping, digging and constantly changing direction] with these types of muscular imbalances, and you're bound for an injury-laden season.
Calloway, along with athletic trainer Priscilla Dobbs, tests the 'Canes' hip and ankle mobility and stability before moving them to a customized strength and flexibility program. But, since you're not in Miami with Calloway, he provides an off-season routine you can perform twice a week to keep your legs and ankles strong and stretchy.
Self-Myofascial Release exercises apply concentrated pressure on deep connective tissues that surround your muscles. These typically involve foam-rolling movements in which you use your bodyweight to create pressure to help relieve muscle soreness.
|Outside of lower leg||1||30 seconds||Hold on most tender area|
|Outside of calf muscle||1||30 seconds||Hold on most tender area|
|IT Band (outside of thigh)||1||30 seconds||Hold on most tender area|
The most common lengthening technique involves static stretching, which improves functional flexibility. Bring each stretch to a point of tension and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
|Three-Way Calf||1 each way||20-30 seconds|
|IT Band (outside of thigh)||3||20-30 seconds|
|Outside hamstring||3||20-30 seconds|
These are isolated strengthening exercises that involve a movement, an isometric hold and an eccentric release.
|Shin||2||12||2-second hold; 4-second release|
|Glutes (Medius/Maximus)||2||12||2-second hold; 4-second release|
|Inside of calf muscle||2||12||2-second hold; 4-second release|
The strengthening phase of the plan involves dynamic movements performed in a slow, controlled manner. This is key to eliminating muscle imbalances.
|Ball Squat||2||15||Perform in a slow, controlled manner|
|Single-Leg Medial Calf Raise||2||15||Perform in a slow, controlled manner|
|Single-Leg Balance Reach||2||15||Perform in a slow, controlled manner|
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