Ankle Mobility- More than Exercises


I went to GAIN a few years ago and much of the education was on the PCA or Physical Competence Assessment for those who only are familiar with the FMS. The PCA is frankly a better tool in my opinion because it has no constraints. The overhead squat is not owned by any system, so even the PCA can be disrupted by better ways to get more relevant information. Recently my comments on corrective exercises have stirred up the hornets nest. I don’t believe in absolutes, so provided that one is getting results, it’s ok not to do corrective exercises or the FMS. They are options. One can do low load strength training and manual therapy. One can do movement training if tissue tone is augmented, so if you are Shirley fan great, but keep in mind she is not a Bill Knowles and doesn’t do high end rehab of athletes. This leads us to getting results medically. What to believe and what to use? I know this is another rant and don’t expect blogs to accurately paint my thoughts, especially when low on caffeine at 6am in the morning but here are some nuggets I learned this past week.

Medical Records-You can’t remember everything and others in collaboration can’t read your brain. Sorry, but if you are writing a two, or other FMS scores on a piece of paper you are missing the opportunity to get better and get better information. Video the session and use a checklist and score it right. Sorry PCA users but I don’t like the 1-5 either. This day in age with technology we can do more with less time and make it more effective. The wrong technology is not practical and the best is intuitive and human like. I have seen some PCA reports and I am frankly shocked that nobody is taking advantage of open source software or doing something that encourages proper scoring. The scoring uses radar or spider graphs and that is the only time I think they should be used for data visualization. I like the Thomas tests (1-3) with the PCA as they are great ways to see trends and problems. Just use range of motion with degrees if you can. You can still place it in a radar graph, just use smaller units instead of 1-5 and convert them into percentages.

Medical Imaging and Diagnostics- If I hear MRI doesn’t mean anything I am going to explode. Nothing is everything, but something is not nothing. Not agreeing with an MRI is very risky and true they might reveal injury but what are you revealing to everyone. It’s easy to point fingers but I like the idea of comparing. If I don’t like a piece of equipment, I usually break down a comparison chart. When someone disagrees with something that is great, just share your information to compare. I have seen bad positions win because of rhetoric, not because of evidence. For example does anyone think that early ankle spurs will show up using movement screens? Duane Brown’s surgery is something that is not as uncommon as we think.Perhaps if they are later stages, but the etiology of ankle spurs are not clear in research but they are starting to become more noticed by progressive medical staffs with relations to pedobarography. Sometimes it’s too late and a surgery is required. When I share surface cartilage damage with coaches after self mobs, the response is anger at me instead of asking questions. I love mobility and I am glad people want to be supple leopards, but I think people should be screened deeper with more joint evaluation to see capsular issues and more specific problems versus leg lifts and hurdle steps and self diagnostics. Google Docs is a great online office suite, not a solution for modern sports medicine with a virtual physician. Any movement screen is limited, so why not share those limits? Nobody wants to talk about the limits then we have problems.

Geometers don’t blame protractors for poor performance! Goniometer is not a bogus tool, and yes skill maters. Sorry but I don’t blame Spaulding because my shooting percentage is not as good as Ray Allen. The same argument I have is that because one is using duplo blocks assessments instead of technic legos don’t blame me. If you can’t do a proper assessment with a goniometer then learn and get better. It’s ok to do a Thomas test in addition to conventional movement screens. Like GPS being used for pitching, it’s likely that the right tool is the issue, not the attempt to get more information. I agree with Joe Torine with the phrase you don’t manage what you don’t measure, just make sure you measure the best ways.

Wrapping up this blog. I know I perhaps ranted too much but this last paragraph will likely clear up the confusion. When having medical issues go to a medical specialist for evaluation and use objective tools and good reporting. Ankle mobility exercises are not always the solution, and often they are part of the problem. Where are all the basketball players crushing 3s in the overhead squat with loads? If 2 is acceptable why are people not improving if 3 is better? Is it a case of lowering standards to treat the symptoms or inability to achieve criteria? I see more corrective exercise videos than corrected athletes doing the basics with polished techniques. Stop the insanity.

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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