Eliminate Cranky Knees & Ankle Mobility Restrictions

By Matthew Ibrahim

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Stronger, Leaner, Healtier, FOREVER

Introducing Functional Strength Training: 
The Monthly Membership Training Solution For People Who Want To Look, Feel And Function Their Very Best, Forever.

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Here’s What You Need To Know…

1. There must be a differentiation made between mobility restrictions and just downright poor movement capacity. Treating both deficits as the same usually results in no results at all, especially when dealing with ankle mobility restrictions and cranky knees.

2. Want to eliminate cranky knees? Improving your knee health goes hand in hand with improving the way you move, especially when it comes to the squat pattern and Olympic lifts.

3. If your squat and power lifts are stagnated and are starting to cause pain, you better assess your ankle mobility and function. And of course, preventative work for ankle mobility is pivotal to long term development and progress.

4. They say the elbows is slave to the shoulder joint, so if you’re having elbow aches, pains and soreness, here’s a way to kill two birds with one stone by improving your shoulder and elbow health simultaneously.

Why Your Movement Depends On Your Mobility

It’s no surprise by now that specific mobility prep work is a MUST in any training program.

However, the one caveat to this is athletes in the Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting communities can get stumped on how to troubleshoot when selecting and prioritizing their drills based on their individual issues and limitations.

Performing a drill just for the sake of doing it isn’t going to increase your squat, bench or deadlift, and definitely isn’t going to give you a better catch position in your O-lifts.

However, what will definitely help is constant maintenance and execution in specific areas of need for your lifts via mobility drills.

How To Assess & Eliminate Cranky Knees

Raise your hand if you’ve never had knee problems in your training? Said no one. Ever!

With that in mind, it all comes down to how you attack this major issue we see across the board in lifters of all ages and skill levels.

We need to understand one major point here: the knee represents two joints, not a single joint as many confusingly believe. These joints are the:

  1. Tibiofemoral – The articulation between the tibia and the femur.
  1. Patellofemoral – The articulation between the patella and the femur.

Here’s the problem: everyone treats knee issues the same exact way even though the origins of the pain and dysfunction may be polar opposite in nature.

Would you dress up for a wedding event the same way you dress up to hit the gym? Didn’t think so. Why would you treat two separate joints the same?

Sure, there is definitely some overlap here, but in the end, each joint within the knee needs to be addressed separately. In the end though, if both joints are becoming issues, you can cohesively attack both hand-in-hand. However, this isn’t always the case.

All it comes down to now is figuring out which area needs the direct attention, and then you can begin to execute your attack.

The most prominent movements that exacerbate pain and dysfunction at the knee are the squat, bench press and Olympic style lifts such as the Power Clean, Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Here’s how to fix them!

How To Put An End To Ankle Mobility Limitations 

Having trouble getting depth in the bottom of your squat? Are you having constant issues with your receiving position in your Olympic lifts?

If your hips are in check with a full range of adequate mobility and your trunk is stable enough to handle the load via spinal stabilization strategies and proper breathing mechanics, then what’s left to look for?

Ankle mobility and range of motion, of course!

Also, it’s important to understand your tibial internal rotation as it relates to ankle function in lifting. Without an adequate amount of tibial internal rotation, you’ll find it challenging to hit a deep squat in addition to your feet spinning out to the sides.

Check Out Matthew Ibrahim with Dr. John Rusin on Strength Doc Podcast Episode 017!

Most Olympic lifters utilize Olympic lifting shoes. I have no issues here, especially when athletes become more advanced in competition. Even for novice and intermediate athletes both in Powerlifting and in Olympic style lifting, Olympic shoes can definitely serve their purpose.

In the end though, wouldn’t you feel more confident putting a valiant effort toward attacking the issue first versus just masking the issue without any efforts?

This one really could be argued both ways, but for sake of the athlete who is looking to attack their ankle mobility limitation first, albeit with or without Olympic lifting shoes, there’s a way to go about it.

Movements which commonly become dysfunctional with ankle issues are the squat and Olympic style lifts. Here’s how to address your ankle mobility issues to get the most out of your training and to prevent injuries:

How To Solve Wrist & Forearm Problems

Show me a Powerlifter or Olympic lifter that never had any issues with nagging wrists or flared up forearms. It just doesn’t exist.

The demands on athletes in both lifting styles within their respective lifts puts constant tension and work on the wrists and forearms. (Notice how all major lifts are labeled below for the areas we see this issue the most.)

It’s quite normal to feel fatigue and general soreness in your forearms after being gassed from your training. Addressing this area consistently becomes even more important.

A supple range of motion in wrist extension is necessary in addition to wrist stability and an adequate amount of tissue length. This places an even greater importance on constant maintenance and specific mobility prep work.

Movements we see this issue the most in are the bench press, squat, deadlift and Olympic lifts. Here’s how to fix it:

About The Author

matthew ibrahim

Matthew Ibrahim is a strength and conditioning coach, physical therapy rehabilitation coach, massage therapy student, and speaker. He is the founder of Movement Resilience (formerly Mobility 101), which has a specific mission of helping people build resilient movement and resilient strength to continue doing what they love most: move.

From high performance professional athletes in the NFL, NHL, and NBA, to competitive powerlifters, to collegiate athletes in NCAA Division I, II and III sports, he has developed highly effective strength and conditioning, sports performance, regeneration, and injury-prevention programs that are specifically individualized. His work has been featured on The Personal Trainer Development Center, Breaking Muscle, and ReebokONE, among many other influential platforms in the fitness and rehab communities.
Considering himself a lifelong learner and student of human movement and performance, he is part of the sports medicine team at Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness where his role as a strength and conditioning coach is enhanced through working directly alongside physical therapists and athletic trainers. Additionally, he will become a licensed massage therapist by July 2016, to provide soft tissue and sports massage therapy to help athletes recover faster in between competition.

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