Being an athlete requires strong feet, as it’s something they just can’t afford to do without. They alone are not the only one with such a requirement, either. If you are preparing for a sport like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, or BJJ as we know it, having strength and flexibility in your feet and ankle joints are equally essential. Why? Because to become a successful practitioner, a solid base while standing and kneeling is required.
If you haven’t already done anything to help your feet and ankles, now is the right time to start a fresh new chapter in your life. Here are three exercises that will help you start that chapter.
Calf Stretch for the Ankle
The calf is primarily made of two muscles: the gastrocnemius and the deeper muscle called the soleus. At the back of the ankle, both of these muscles insert into the Achilles tendon. Therefore, any sport which requires prolonged running, walking, jumping, or flexibility in these muscles is makes exercising these muscles imperative. To do that, there are two types of stretches which target both the muscles with a slight variation in the posture. Let’s take a look at them.
standing gastrocnemius stretch
Stand about three feet away from the wall or as it suits you. Put the left foot behind you, ensuring the toes face forward. Keep the heel on the ground and lean forward, keeping the left knee absolutely straight and hands outstretched onto the wall. Now rotate your toes slightly in and out for 30-60 seconds as this will help to separately target the medial and lateral parts of the gastrocnemius muscle. Repeat it now with the right foot.
standing soleus stretch
Stand in the same position away from the wall as before. Put your left foot behind you, ensuring the toes are facing forward. Lean forward at the ankle and put your hands on the wall. However, instead of keeping the left leg straight, bend it at the knee, letting the heel stay on the ground. Now that the knee is flexed, tension is taken off the gastrocnemius and is placed on the soleus instead. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and then do the same with the right foot.
Ankle Dorisflexion Mobility with Dowel
Ankle dorsiflexion mobility exercises have become quite popular over the last several years, and are thus an important part of corrective exercise and prep programming. Since the limitation in ankle dorsiflexion can lead to functional as well as athletic limitations, the importance of doing an exercise to enhance dorsiflexion cannot be ignored. The one we are going to talk about here is an advanced and very effective exercise to improve dorsiflexion.
How do you get started with it? Just get down in a half kneeling position with a dowel on the outside of you foot. Stay tall as you move on to the next step. Lean forward into dorsiflexion and move the knee outside the dowel. Make sure the heel of the foot maintains contact with the floor throughout the exercise. However, if you’re not comfortable doing it, instead of taking your knee outside the dowel, cross it in front of the knee. This will allow the knee to stay put while working on the ankle.
Ankle Capsule Mobilization Exercise with Belt Assistance
Another great exercise for ankle flexibility and mobilization is with the help of the belt assistance. In order to proceed with this one, you’ll need a belt or a band to place at the ankle joint between the medial and lateral melleoli. Once you’re good to go, place a considerable amount of tension through the belt. As you do so, bring the knee forwards without letting the heel rise off the ground. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds and go on to perform it at least 8 to 10 times.
So, if you want a successful career in BJJ, along with training hard and taking a shower with the best tea tree oil soap afterwards, do not ignore your feet and ankle training in the process. Often, a lot of people commit this mistake. Stand out from the rest of them!