We all know you can use a kettlebell for strength, but did you know you can use it as a mobility tool to warm up your hips and ankles? Utilizing the kettlebell to increase tension and force on restrictive tissue can help improve the overall range of motion in your joints and soft tissue.
We will focus on the hips and ankles in this blog because everything starts at the foot! It's the first thing to hit the ground when we walk, and also the last thing to leave the ground. The feet control and dictate how certain muscle tissue moves. If we don't focus on continuous improvement of these motions, it can lead to other kinds of injuries. Having dysfunction or restriction in the foot, ankle, or calf can lead to things like gait issues, back pain, hip pain, and knee pain. The body responds to ground reaction forces every time we step; in order for things to move up the chain correctly and mechanically, we need the first link in the chain to be strong and stable. That first link is the foot!
Here's a quick video of a few different functional exercises and stretches to ease those tight hips and ankles!
In this video, the stretches are demonstrated using a kettlebell, but you can use anything with weight and height if you need an alternative!
Every stretch is performed dynamically, and in multiple directions to push a full range of motion. We will first start in a kneeling position, pushing the knee forward and using that kettlebell on top of the knee as down-pressure for an extra stretch. If you have difficulty being on the ground, you can perform the same stride motion on an elevated surface.
It's also important to mobilize your soft tissue, not just your joints! Stretch out your leg in front of you, place the kettlebell under your calf, and use it almost like it's a foam roller. Then, bend your leg and place it in front of you to massage the side of your calf with the kettlebell handle.
Try incorporating these mobility techniques before and after your workouts to improve hip and ankle mobility!
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Scott Ryan, BS, CSCS, CF-L1, CF-W, BFRC
A professional coach who specializes in Applied Functional Science, Strength and Conditioning, CrossFit L1, and Olympic Lifting. He attended New England College in New Hampshire obtaining a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Biomechanics. He has a passion for injury prevention and coaching, as he was a collegiate athlete who suffered sports injuries. His goal is to get athletes back to optimal shape as well as prevent future injuries.