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I had tried to find some specifics on the forums rather than post a question that may have been answered, but I can’t find the answers, so apologies if I’m repeating previously covered ground. 

in short I have very tight ankles and they seem to be the main limiter in my squat. I am 44 and have a long history of chronic pain and injuries from various sports etc. 

I’ve been following the mastering programs for about 12 weeks now (I know that’s not long, but I am seeing progress everywhere else) and the only place I’m not seeing any improvement is ankles. 

i do some of the full squat mobility sessions once a week and some bits twice (my hammies less frequently as I get Dom’s for 4 or 5 days in them)

Straight leg and bent knee calf I do twice a week. I also do the limbering a few times a week, but not religiously every day. 

my big question is “how frequently should I be working on my ankles?”

Am I going to do more harm than good doing my ankles a bit more frequently?

are there other approaches to ankles specifically that people have found work? I listened to @Kit_L’s interview talking about @oliviaa’s pre exhaustion protocol for her calves that made a big difference, but can’t find any forum content on that. Is it just a case of doing calf raises to failure before doing the stretching?

 Well doing some longer hold type stuff be more beneficial potentially?

i know the system is all about finding out your own individual needs and what works for you, so I appreciate there is no one answer, but some ideas to play with would be great.

Thanks in advance. I have tried to address my ankle ROM at various times over the last 10yrs, but never consistently and I’ve now found the drive and motivation to really get to grips with my aches, pains and mobility. This is just one area that I don’t feel confident I can unlock. 

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27 minutes ago, Matt Robbo said:

“how frequently should I be working on my ankles?”

The more resistant a part is, the less often you work it—but when you do work it, work it hard, and multiple sets.  One hard session a week is a good place to start.@oliviaa will be making the "Sledgehammer Stretching" program this year, but we are slammed presently. Please search on "soleus" and "gastrocnemius" on out YT channel in the meantime, and more to come. And do ask again; as I said, we are working on many other things right now—asking moves things up the queue!

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That makes sense. Thanks @Kit_L

loving the process. I’ve been through a huge paradigm shift as to how I approach ‘training’ over the last 4yrs or so and specifically my mindset has changed significantly in the last 6 months. Mostly thanks to your incredible insights in your numerous podcast interviews. 
Now it’s 90% self care and mindful mobility. It’s only taken 30yrs to realise what I was doing wasn’t what my body wanted it needed!!

thank you 🙏🏼

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Just one other question re this @Kit_L  

when you say multiple sets, would you do the standard protocol as I understand it ‘60s passive, 3 x 10s contractions 60s I’m final position’

more than once in a session for the same pose? Or do you simply mean more contractions? Or longer holds? Or do you mean finding other poses / exercises that hit the ankles to do in the same session? 

I did soleus on a bench and straight leg calf this evening. I started the session with a few sets of calf raises until I was pumped.   

The stretches I held for longer than I would normally. Ended up being around 5mins in each position from start to finish and I did maximal effort contractions.

I know these are programming questions and there’s no definitive answer, but I’m pretty numb when it comes to feeling what’s going on. I’m certainly not at the stage where I feel like muscles are letting go even with prolonged holds. 




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When I say, "multiple sets", that's what I mean—a number of repetitions of the same exercise (and the repetitions can be done inside one longer set if that works better) and while this repetition increases ROM, keep repeating. The not-so-obvious point is that if ROM is increasing, then what you are doing is affecting the nervous system, and this is why we stress the use of the reflexes: this is what's changing, not the "muscles".

When that stops (and for most people that's three cycles; we have seen this tens of thousands of times in classes), then back off the intensity of the stretch until you can actually relax, and stay there. How long? Until you can relax fully. Holding a stopwatch and gutting out a five-minute hold, gritting your teeth is definitely not what I am talking about! This second phase is more about learning how to be at that end range comfortably, and much of the adaptation here is fascial. Sometimes you will feel it "creaking" as it adjusts.

But the relaxation is the most important, subtle, and difficult part. I was working with a client this week who was in the deep lunge position and I said to him, "now relax fully". He said, "I'm completely relaxed," so I went over to him and I pressed my index finger into his abdominal area – he was holding himself rigid of course. This is a natural protective reflex, but this is what we need to defeat, in time. This is why we stress, "how does that feel", and "how can that be changed/moved/made more comfortable?"

3 hours ago, Matt Robbo said:

I’m pretty numb when it comes to feeling what’s going on.

This, definitely, is where you need to focus your attention. Get into those sensations as deeply as you can. And, paradoxically, sometimes (and especially for someone who is naturally a 'hard worker'), you need to back the intensity off and simply hang around in the end position, and make little movements (tiny ones; a millimetre or two) and ask yourself, "what can I feel?" "where do I feel that?" and "can I relax more?"

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We will release an example of the "SledgeHammer Stretching" technique in action this week; subscribe to our YouTube channel. I finished editing it today, but @oliviaa needs a day or three to finalise the article that goes with it. If you subscribe, you'll be notified of its release. It's perfect for you, @Matt Robbo, because the example muscle and joint shown in the video is the ankle!

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From Olivia:

 @Matt Robbo

The SledgeHammer Stretching (SLS) sequence for the calf muscles is now live on our website. Find it at https://stretchtherapy.net/sledgehammer-stretching-calf-sequence-full-demonstration/ 

There's a link at the top of the text description underneath the video to an article which details the SLS protocol – please read that first.

Cheers Olivia

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