Ankle Compression in Runners
Runners are particularly susceptible to ankle compression which can have a very significant effect on their performance and increase the likeliness of injury. Of the runners I treat, I estimate more than 50% have tested positive for ankle compression. It’s not that the joint is excessively being compressed, it’s that the nervous system is mistakenly thinking excessive compression is occurring and is inhibiting key muscles as a safety mechanism.
Inside our joints are mechanoreceptors that are checking for excessive compression. When they are activated, they send a warning message to the brain to communicate that we are about to cause injury in the joint. As a result, the brain decreases the available force output, it’s logic being… “if I’m about to injure myself, I will injury myself to a lesser degree if I cannot generate as much force.”
This safety mechanism should kick in when we jump off the first floor of a building, not when we land one foot in front of another. Unfortunately, for many runners the threshold in the receptors for this warning mechanism to turn on has become extremely low. So instead of landing from a great hight, simply the act of landing on one foot after another while running can cause the brain to inhibit key muscles, causing fatigue, decreasing performance and creating higher risk of injury.
It’s an easy fix with Sensory Motor Repatterning (SMR) First we have to confirm compression in the ankle joint is incorrectly causing inhibition and then we reset the receptors threshold to occur only when it should. This can easily be accomplished in one session. Now, are you having ankle compression?