Imagine Wearing a Cast on Your Ankles and Playing Basketball.
It’s not a difficult sight to imagine- A basketball player wearing a cast due to a broken foot or ankle.
But what if it wasn’t a broken foot or ankle, and the player’s range of motion was so limited in their ankles that it felt like you had a cast on it?
I have often witnessed basketball players with the inability to properly flex the ankle so the foot can stay flat while the knee pushes forward over the toes.
When players can’t dorsiflex the ankle well, they have basically taken the ankle joint out of play for proper load sharing and loading the foot. The player also has forced the rest of the muscles and joints above the ankle to take on a role they are not best at. They can do it, but just not well.
For example, players who lack ankle dorsiflexion must still get down low in an athletic stance. If they can’t push the knees forward due to a locked ankle joint, they will typically hinge at the hips and angle their back (spine) towards the floor. Basically, they have vertical shins, hips pushed way back, and a spine that is forward to the point it looks like the chest is on the thighs.
These are the players that complain of back pain. It’s no wonder! Imagine getting in and out of your defensive stance, landing from jumps, and moving around with your back leaning forward all game.
When we look at the influence of a few degrees of freedom at the ankle joint, we can see a significant impact up the chain.
When the ankle is properly mobilized, the soft tissue of the calve is properly loosened and activated, and the foot is allowed to load properly; as the ankle loads, you now see a positive influence on the rest of the body chain.
If the knees can push forward, with the heels down, the thigh pushes forward. This allows the hips not to be pushed too far back, which allows the spine to be more upright versus nearly flat to the thighs.
When the movement improves and is near-optimal, we now have joint systems, muscular systems, and neural firing patterns all on the same page and back to working how they were supposed to.
If you don’t make foot and ankle mobility a priority, start planning how you will deal with pain and dysfunction. Your choice!
Be sure to get in line as we near the grand opening of the first Certified Basketball Speed Specialist Level 1 course of its kind. www.BasketballSpeedSpecialist.com