Make The Turn Weekly Challenge #48: Awesome Ankle Activation
One of the more overlooked aspects of golf or any type of fitness has to be ankle mobility. Unless you're a top athlete, you're probably unaware of how small bits of stiffness in your ankles over time are affecting your performance. As it relates to a good golf game, the ankles are integral in supporting body rotation, while also facilitating a strong push into the ground for a powerful strike. Ankles that lack reasonable ranges of mobility adversely affect swing fundamentals, while also putting a dangerous amount of stress on other joints in the body.
I believe the ability to live powerfully on or off the course is pretty simply rooted in how good you feel. When you're light, fast, explosive and most of all "pain-free" an unlimited number of experiences are open to you, making life and golf a lot more interesting. When I was younger I'll freely admit my desire to be fit was mostly a product of ego. I wanted to look a certain way and really didn't care to focus on little things like ankle mobility. Now that I'm older, the #1 goal is to feel great. I walk when I play, surf on the weekends and run with my dog on the beach. I understand if I can't physically move well, my enjoyment for everything disappears. Knowing a small amount of attention to key areas will keep me active is enough incentive to make sure I never have to watch from the sidelines.
A pretty cool lesson on the importance of "flexibility" comes from Zen culture. The lesson looks at the "birth-death" continuum or the process of life itself. In analyzing the life cycle of a living organism such as a tree or plant, at the early portion of the continuum the plant exhibits a high level of flexibility. Over time the plant stiffens, until eventually at the end of its lifespan it has become so brittle, even a strong breeze can snap it in two. In comparison, at birth, human beings are as mentally and physically flexible as they'll ever be. Over time, we become more mentally conditioned or "set in our ways," while our bodies tighten, weaken and slow down. Whereas the plant lacks the ability to exercise such uniquely human gifts as free will, we have the power, if we so choose, to lean more towards the birth side of things. That is, actively choosing to keep our mind and body as flexible as possible for as long as we can. It's such a big deal, some argue that mental and physically flexibility is the key to happiness itself.
The point here is that being flexible is a very good thing. Good for golf and a whole lot more. Spend some time taking care of the little things and you can count this week's challenge as complete.