IMPROVE MY GAME
How Ankle Mobility Influences Your Movement Patterns and Your Golf Swing
Wed Aug 16, 2017 by TPI
You don't have to work long in the movement professions to understand how vital the ankle is.
- Gray Cook
A headline like “Improve Your Ankle Mobility for a Better Golf Swing” might’ve been laughed off the internet ten years ago, but as more and more golfers are becoming aware of how the body interacts with the swing, the importance of ankle mobility is being brought to the forefront.
When you consider the physical demands of the swing - especially as it relates to sequencing and using the ground to generate power - overlooking ankle mobility in golf makes about as much sense as a pilot trying to fly a 747 with Cessna wings.
TPI Certified strength coach Nick Buchan said it well in a post on his blog:
The ankle, along with the wrist, maybe the most ignored joint in terms of athletic performance. However the foot is our only contact point with the ground, in a sport such as golf where a powerful swing is the result of creating large amounts of ground reaction force its importance should be obvious. Structurally speaking the foot is also our base and affects everything else further up the kinetic chain.
- Nick Buchan
One of the strongest correlations that we’ve found in the body-swing connection is the relationship between the Overhead Deep Squat and Loss of Posture - specifically Early Extension. The Overhead Deep Squat is one of the most informative screens that we perform. It evaluates mobility in the thoracic spine, hip, knee and ankle. While numerous physical limitations can cause Loss of Posture, poor ankle mobility is most closely associated with early extension.
In the video below, Dr. Rose explains how the Deep Squat test can identify physical limitations and, more importantly, movement patterns that might responsible for undesirable swing characteristics.
Understanding how your physical limitations influence movement is a critical piece in understanding why certain characteristics might be present in your swing. As always, movement patterns and swing characteristics can result from technical or physical issues.
So what should you do if you present ankle dysfunction? Address mobility first.
TPI Certified strength coach Damon Goddard of AMPD Golf Fitness recently did a segment on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. What did the trainer of Open Champ Jordan Spieth discuss in his 7 minute segment? The ankle, exclusively.
The ability to have really solid footwork is critical to using the ground for power.
- Damon Goddard
The ankle exercises that Damon prescribes for Jordan is particularly interesting because Jordan’s swing demands exceptional ankle mobility (as detailed by BodiTrak here). In addition to being a key component in the golf swing, ankle mobility is also critical for training.
You have to earn the right to do bigger movements. If you have limited ankle range of motion, I can’t put you through squat patterns or load heavy weight.
- Damon Goddard
Using technology like BodiTrak can provide valuable biofeedback in coaching and assessing an athlete’s squat.
The mobility of your ankle should be a consideration in your choice of footwear.
Knowing how your body's limitations influences your swing should dictate your fitness program, equipment and even your choice of footwear.— LanceGillPerformance (@LGP_Inc) March 21, 2015
Ankle injuries are extremely common, accounting for nearly half of all sports injuries (according to the American College of Sports Medicine). While often not severe, rushing recovery from an ankle sprain can inhibit mobility and invite dysfunction.
RELATED ARTICLE: How Ryan Moore Rehabbed His Ankle With A TPI Certified Team
Bottom Line: If you want to have an efficient golf swing, you need to consider how you're moving from the ground up. Many avid golfers, especially ones with desk jobs, can benefit from assessing their ankle mobility and function.
Do you have any experience dealing with younger athletes with ankle fusions on their lead leg? All else being equal, presenting above average hip mobility and a 90% reduction in left ankle mobility, with an individual wanting to work as much as prescribed, is there enough data to not treat this as completely individual?
Jess Robinson 2/20/2018 8:27 PM
Thank you Greg for bringing some much needed attention to this often neglected body region. To add a couple thoughts: 1. It's also imperative to remember the ankles are major proprioceptive structures that play an integral role in body awareness and balance, and 2. While large dorsiflexion limitations can have adverse effects on the golf swing, I'd like to add that it's even more frequent that abnormal transverse plane ankle/foot motions (pronation and supination), even small abnormalities, create havoc with a golfer's posture and swing. Overpronation is very common, and determining its cause is a key to resolving posture and swing dysfunction, and facilitating the optimal kinematic sequence from the ground up. Mark Erickson - Insight Physical Therapy
Insight Physical Therapy and Body Awareness 8/21/2017 1:19 AM
I assume the ankle information apply s to all activities, even though you are using golf as the example? I would be interesting in you talking about this subject with other sports too. thank you, the article and videos are very informative!
steve 8/18/2017 5:38 PM