Sunday Surgery 21st October – Lower Leg Love

1st October 2012

Our lower legs take allot of abuse in CrossFit , and rarely get any love or attention to help them recover. 

This week we have done lots of running, box jumps and double unders which are all high impact movements that pound our lower extremities! We have discussed on previous Sunday sessions the importance of knees out, with feet as parallel as possible when squatting, not only for generating maximum torque and power, but also so when performing the high impact movements the calf and Achilles tendons are not forced off alignment which can lead to some serious long term issues in these areas.

So lets show some love to those parts of our bodies that take daily abuse.

As always lets test / retest. Start in the sitting position with legs straight out in front of you and shoes off and pull your feet back towards you as far as possible (without any help!). Do you notice anything, does one foot have a greater range of motion than the other?

First of all lets start with a little distraction of the ankle joints. Very simply spend 1 min per foot gently applying traction with a band to separate all of the joints and tendons which have been impacted together. Loop a band around the bottom of a pillar, slip your foot through and scoot your butt back to apply some tension. This will gently create the natural spaces within the joint and loosen the whole ankle area.

The next thing we want to work on is creating and improving the range of motion in the calf area and ankle. We see many people struggle with hitting proper depth in their squats and quite often this is due to a physical block in the front of the ankle or very tight Achilles tendons at the back. So lets go ahead and sit in the kneeling position with our feet in extension underneath us and apply some contract release magic to that area. Check out KStarr’s video for a full description. Shin Splint Mobs

Next we are going to go to work on the sliding surfaces around the front and back of the ankle with the now famous home made voodoo band. Go ahead and get your partner to wrap that sucker to approx 75% of max tightness around the ankle and lower Achilles and squat and mob into all the angles. Remember that we always want to mobilise in a good position, so don’t let the ankle collapse. Also always stick to the 3 rules of flossing; take it off when:

  • You get strong pins and needles in the area
  • You get that claustrophobic feeling and just have to get it off
  • 3 minutes maximum at a time

It is important to stretch the Achilles and calf before and after these intensive impact WOD’s and the best way I have found is to conduct the crank calf stretch as I like to call it. Full demo here Calf Crank Mob. Do this for 4 mins each leg and use the contract release method to really try and get length into those stubborn tendons and muscles.

Finally, time for some therapy for those tired worn out leg muscles. Working with a partner lets do some basic deep tissue therapy with our feet.  Last time I introduced this people really got into it and even asked me to teach their non CrossFit partners how to do it (oo-er Mrs!).

Placing an ab-mat or cushion (if at home) under the front of you shins, lie face down and ask your partner to gentle start applying pressure to your calves with their own feet (no heals please!). Your partner should be looking to provide pressure in waves working from one side of the leg over the top to the other to get those sliding surfaces moving and provide some lateral force to the muscles. Slowly build this pressure up by adding more weight until eventually you should be able to stand on your partners legs – obviously take note of the person who is underneath you and always have a ‘safe word’ which means ‘get the **** off me now!’

You can use this technique to work up and down the full length of the leg, however never do this on a knee or other joint.

So with the work done, retest the foot position. Have you achieved increased range of motion? Have you leveled off any differences that you may of had before? Ultimately the key rule of mobbing is to mob until you no longer see change – and then go and find another mob!!

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