An­kle mo­bil­ity is key to an ath­letic swing

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life -

t has been said that a good golf swing starts from the ground up, but that could be bad news if you regularly wear dress shoes or sit for most of the day.A com­mon is­sue that can de­velop is poor an­kle dor­si­flex­ion (aka “lazy an­kle”). If the abil­ity to hinge the joint so your toes point up­ward is re­stricted, it can cause prob­lems in your swing, says Golf Di­gest fit­ness ad­vi­sor Ben Shear.

IFrom a power per­spec­tive, the abil­ity to squat at the start of the down­swing and lever­age the ground to cre­ate more force and club­head speed will be im­peded with­out good an­kle dor­si­flex­ion. It more com­monly leads to off-cen­tre hits, be­cause poor an­kle mo­bil­ity makes it tougher to stay in a steady pos­ture dur­ing the swing and get the club to con­sis­tently bot­tom out in the right place.

Dress shoes typ­i­cally el­e­vate the heel of the foot, so the an­gle be­tween the foot and leg is in­creased (plan­tar flex­ion). Sit­ting with a hunched pos­ture also re­duces the need for dor­si­flex­ion, which is why desk jobs can lead to off-cen­tre strikes.

“What makes mat­ters worse is that a lot of peo­ple wear un­com­fort­able dress shoes all week, so they wear the sneaker-style golf shoes when they play be­cause they feel so good,” Shear says. “But those shoes typ­i­cally lack heel sup­port, so the need for good dor­si­flex­ion is mag­ni­fied. It makes it harder to make a good swing.”

Even elite ath­letes can have dor­si­flex­ion is­sues as a re­sult of in­juries and the scar tis­sue that de­vel­ops on top of the joint where the tibia (shin) bone meets the talus (an­kle) bone. For them, a painful pinch­ing sen­sa­tion is felt as they flex the foot up­ward.

For most of us, how­ever, calf tight­ness is a clear warn­ing sign of re­stricted an­kle mo­bil­ity: par­tic­u­larly when your knee juts out over your foot or when you raise your toes while keep­ing your heels on the ground.

To cor­rect the prob­lem, first take Shear’s dor­si­flex­ion test (above). If you feel a pinch­ing sen­sa­tion or pain on the top of the joint, or if there is tight­ness in the calf of that leg, fol­low one of the two ex­er­cise pre­scrip­tions he gives to im­prove your range of mo­tion. –Ron Kaspriske

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