One of the biggest problems I faced when I started Muay Thai was poor plantar flexion (pointing your foot out). I also see it in some of my newer students.
Back then, during a sparring class, I threw a teep and missed my partner. My coached yelled at me to point my foot. I fired again and missed. "He heard you yell it and stepped back," I thought to myself in frustration as the round continued.
After class my coach had me teep the bag and told me to strike with the ball of the foot, not my entire. That's when I realized I wasn't missing because my partner moved or my range was off. I was missing because I had a joint limitation.
If you're finding yourself in the same limitations and going through some ankle restrictions then give this opener series a try and let me know how it worked out for you.
Foam Roll or Lacross Ball
This is a good way to relax your nervous system and get the muscles and joints prepped. Make sure not to get too aggressive with the pressure (More isn't always better) and limit yourself to 30 seconds prior to training. After training feel free to roll out for no more than 2 min.
- Don't just only mash-up & down.
- Move your ankle in circles.
- Better yet, write out the alphabet.
- For more pressure place opposite leg on top.
- Or use a Lacross ball
Now that your muscles are relaxed you can increase your range of motion by adding banded distractions. Joint distractions are the "wedge" that creates more space between the 2 compressed joints. Aim for light resistance from the band and no more than 3 sets of 15 seconds before training.
- Fit the band on your heel.
- In the half kneeling, dive your knee forward and move ankle in a circular motion.
- Keep weight on your foot and sit back as the band pulls on your heel.
- You should feel a slight stretch in your ankle.
- Make sure to keep weight on your foot so that you don't lose position.
No equipment? No problem, if you don't have access to a foam roller, lacross ball, or a band you can simply sit in "Seiza". A termed my instructor would say when he wanted us to sit on our knees with feet pointing out and overlapping. This is a good stretch for your knees as well as your ankle.
- Kneel down with one foot overlapping the other.
- With a rocking motion, sit on and off your heels.
- Repeat 5 x and switch feet.