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Low Back Pain? It Might be Connected to Your Ankles. Here's an Exercise that Could Reduce Your Low Back Pain!

Adam Lloyd performing a Split Squat Active Ankle ROM exercise
Adam Lloyd performing a Split Squat Active Ankle ROM exercise

Anyone feeling lower back pain should really think about the structural integrity of their ankles! If this sounds like you or  you’ve never heard this before, check out the post below.

Our Sacro-Iliac joints (SI joints), located in our lower back area, are connected to our ankles. And if you have limited ankle mobility / strength / stability (ie structural integrity), then there’s a good chance your body is compensating for your movement patterns which almost always lead to a problem somewhere up the chain (knees, hips, low back / whole spine, neck and shoulders).

This is a very common source of low back pain, especially in athletes who play intense sports and lift regularly. 

Thankfully there’s some easy remedies if this is your (or your client’s) situation. To know which solution is best, a functional movement evaluation will be able to determine the most appropriate approach.

When assessing a client’s functional movement patterns, ankle mobility and stability are 2 of the first things I test for - starting with a general postural assessment followed by a table assessment, and then functional movement evaluation. 

This provides an evaluation in a static environment (standing), passive (table) and active (functional movement) providing all the information necessary to determine the appropriate solution to implement. 

Click here for one of my favorite exercises to work on the active linear range of motion (dorsiflexion and plantar flexion in a loaded position) and overall structural integrity of the ankle! 

Side note - I’m doing this regularly as a part of my maintenance program for my ankles, knees, hips and low back as I tore my right calf pretty back in 2017 and it’s been a pain in the ass ever since (literally - the piriformis / glute med pain I get sometimes is nasty).

If you have a slanted block like this one, great. If not, you can use just about anything that can elevate the heel off the ground (a 25lb bumper plate works great, or a thick book works great).

Do your best to maintain a solid split squat (low lunge position), while working through your full range of motion for a set of 8-10 reps each leg - 2-3 sets. Sure you can do more if you want to build more strength. This is just for my maintenance work that I do once a week.

Bonus Tip - notice on my left leg I’m poking myself in a few places - this is to turn on mechanoreceptors in my leg to “feel” the muscle working more. Ever since my neck “thingy” (won’t call it an injury), back in September, my left side has been pretty funky. It’s stronger than it’s been, but I have less sensory feeling? Weird, huh.

Turning on mechanoreceptors is a great method for clients to “feel” their muscles more when learning new movements, but also one of my favorite ways to self-check that I’m doing things right.

Let me know how this works for you in the comments below!

FYI - did you know all assessments are 25% OFF for members for the month of February (our Monthly Member Only Promo)!

Contact us today if you're interested in a Functional Movement Assessment with us to determine the best solutions to reduce body pain and also to help improve your overall physical functioning to increase your quality of life!

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