Foot and Ankle Plyometrics
This is where we take all the mobility, control and strength from a combination of the stretches and exercises in our previous calf posts and we add SPEED.
So, what happens when you add speed?
There’s an interesting feature of our muscles called the ‘stretch-shortening cycle’ where a quick stretch or rapid loading of the muscle and tendon leads to a stronger than normal contraction and this is what we take advantage of in plyometric training where there is a quick load placed on a muscle creating a powerful contraction, that loads up the tendon, storing energy that is released VERY quickly= POWER 💥
Getting to this stage is important for normal daily activities and further progression depends on what goals people have. Some want to play sport and we routinely need to get people ready for rapid changes in direction like you see in hockey, footy, netball and dance and high loads like you see in cross-fit and running. The difference comes down to the level of strength & conditioning required.
Here is a perfect introduction to plyo, a foot drill to develop an ‘active foot’ during ground contact courtesy of leading track & field coach, Terry West. It’s called Cardio Contacts, and I’ve used it for years on elite athletes and dancers all the way through to social athletes to allow the early, safe addition of speed into rehab for a more rapid return to full activity.
[link to video]
Keep your eyes open for the next in this series that will progress to higher level ploymetrics.
As always, if you have pain or are recovering from an injury, progress with caution. If there’s pain, there’s probably a good reason so don’t just push on, either slow down or get advice.
Otherwise use these exercises and they’ll help to improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury.