Friday, November 02, 2007

Got Ankle Flexibility?

Rybakou does. That's the only way he can have this narrow receiving position and keep a world record 187 kg snatch over his head, i.e. an upright torso in a basically full overhead squat. Thanks to Rob Macklem for posting another one of his awesome images on GoHeavy.

Compare that to this young high school dude trying to overhead squat. So, what's the deal? What's so important about ankle flexibility? Does it matter for everyday fitness and health? You bet it does. And it is a fairly common obstacle--and potential contributor to back tweaks--for many adults who dive into the CrossFit world of full ROM cleans, snatches, front squats and OHS's.


Neal Thompson said...

Hi Tracey, I see lack of ankle flexibility as a common problem with my athletes. I use the foam roller for some SMR and perform calf and achilles stretches along with Z-health mobility exercises to target the area. Any other suggestions? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Good grief. I cringe just looking at that. It's staged, right? But didn't Byron have very poor ankle flexibility? And he was a great swimmer, and something of a poet.

To me the danger of that form looks like knee health. Am I off base here? For me, at least, if I go on my toes to catch a bad lift, I feel it the next day in my knees.

The Iron Maven said...


I'm not familiar with the Z-health stuff--would like to know more about it. I work on ankle flexibility always in weight-bearing positions and with the knee flexed. The foot is on the ground. Using gravity and relaxation of the system are important IMHO.


The Iron Maven said...

What do you mean by "It's staged, right?"

Anonymous said...

I was being funny, or trying. Nobody really has OHS form that bad, do they? You got some poor soul to pretend to OHS so you could point out bad form. (Arms aren't locked, shoulders are down and not up at ears, head not "through", no "truss" to keep the bar up, squatter is up on his toes, weight appears to be not over feet -- in fact it looks like he's about to lose it behind him, etc.)

Neal Thompson said...

Tracy (sorry about the previous misspell),

Z-health is through Dr. Eric Cobb. His site is

The philosophy is to reset the neuromuscular system to achieve better performance. This is done mostly through mobility drills with an emphasis on mind/muscle connection.

I agree that working flexibility in weight bearing positions are best. I will do quite a bit of "goblet" squats, Dan John, having my athletes "push" themselves down into a deep squat. I cue them to push their navel toward a wall or vertical support to help keep the torso rigid and erect. When they relax, I continue to cue the rigid torso.

Thanks for the feedback.


Ricky said...

hi i just googled and found this. I know the second picture is pretty nasty to look at but that's all i can do without bending forward at my back. i have high arched feet though and im trying to figure out if i'm at a natural disadvantage or I can achieve the first picture flexibility through stretching. I'm a keen runner and also a skateboarder and having the limited flexibility really affects the height i can jump. what sort of stretches should I try? any help would be much appreciated.

The Iron Maven said...


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