The Loop

Fitness Friday: It's hard to play good golf without good ankles

September 21, 2012

When you consider the amount of weight, torque and stress that stems from dynamic movements such as a golf swing, you have to marvel at the durability of an ankle. Even though 80 percent of all sports-related injuries involve this joint, an ankle can take a tremendous beating before giving out. If you're a right-handed golfer, consider the amount of force applied to your left ankle as you swing down and through the impact zone. The left ankle bends toward the target as it attempts to absorb both lateral and rotational force. It looks like it could snap at any moment, but rarely does.

You can help make sure it NEVER does by improving the range of motion of the joint and strengthening the muscles around it. There is another benefit to better ankle functionality--it will reduce the chance of knee injuries. Unlike the ankle joint below it and the hip joint above it, the knee has limited range of motion. In order to do it's job, which is to help provide stability to lower-body movement, the knees need the ankles to help alleviate stress. If your ankles aren't particularly mobile, a telltale sign is chronic knee pain as the knees will be required to do things they aren't designed to do very well.

Ben Shear, one of the most well-respected trainers on the PGA Tour, says ankle mobility is crucial not only to the swings of the elite players he works with such as Luke Donald (pictured) and Jason Day, but also the swings of once-a-week recreational golfers. Staying in posture, being able to rotate around the left leg, creating club speed through squat thrust, these are all things better ankle mobility can improve.

To watch him demonstrate a few ways you can increase your ankles' range of motion, click on the video below.

(Photo by J.D. Cuban)