Exercise of the week - two foot ankle hops all directions

This week we are starting a new series called exercise of the week. I'm hoping I'm able to keep up with weekly posts, but it's very possible that this becomes an "exercise of the month" post, which I will accept the fate of in advance.

Working with Les Gramantik the last few summers has been an awesome experience to better develop a coaching eye for running, and to learn from the best in terms of programming, drills, and movement quality in sprinting.

This week, with Les's permission, we will share a drill that helps with ankle stiffness, important for sprinting. I also like this drill as a progression or a simultaneous exercise for all athletes, general population and older individuals. Without the pre-requisites to run, often general population clients will want to skip right from walking to running, and get injured through shin splints or other problems as they haven't developed the ability of the tissue to take more impact before running. For athletes, two foot ankle hops can increase the ability of the athlete to co-contract the appropriate muscles, and get stronger isometrically in those muscles, so that the hops and subsequently running, becomes more elastic and less energy-draining.

Here are some coaching cues and notes.

1. Co-contract the muscles on the front and back side of the leg. Namely, contract quads and hamstrings simultaneously, as well as shins and calves simultaneously.

2. Keep ankles neutral (try not to dorsi flex or plantar flex them throughout the drill).

3. Have reactive toes off of the ground - as demonstrated in the video.

4. Hip should stay forward and neutral and spine should stay tall.

5. Switch up the directions (front, back, side, side to side, twists in the air) for added difficulty, fun, and motor learning!

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