Ankle Mobility With Texas Swimming

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To pick up speed for a date at the awards podium, swimmers need to do more than just splash on some chlorine cologne. Trey Zepeda, strength and conditioning coach for the men's swimming squad at the University of Texas, offers an anti-goggle, dry-land routine that improves flexibility and increases speed in the water.

"A key flexibility component for swimmers is ankle mobility, because it produces more forward thrust while kicking," says Zepeda, who herded the Longhorns to a second-place finish at the 2008 NCAA Championships.

Below, Zepeda quenches your thirst for flexibility with three stretches—Plantar/ Dorsiflexion Ankle Stretch, Scorpion Stretch, and Seated Ankle Stretch. Altogether, they take less time than shaving your legs.

Note: Perform each stretch four or five times per week, but only when muscles are warm after a pool or gym workout.

Plantar/Dorsiflexion Ankle Stretch

• Sit with legs extended straight out in front and feet together
• Point toes away from body as far as possible for five seconds (plantar flexion)
• Bring toes toward body as much as possible for five seconds (dorsiflexion)
• Repeat movements and five-second holds for 10 reps

Sets/Reps: 1x10
Coaching Points: Do not bend knees // Curl toes forward and down in plantar flexion // Spread toes apart in dorsiflexion // Maintain upright seated position // Move only your ankles during stretch

Scorpion Stretch

• Lie face down with legs straight
• Place arms at 45-degree angle from waist
• Lift right foot to left hand
• Return to start position
• Lift left foot to right hand
• Repeat for 8-10 reps with each foot

Sets/Reps: 3x8-10
Adaptation: For an advanced stretch, place arms to side of body in "T" position so feet must travel a longer distance

Coaching Points: Keep chest flat and shoulders parallel to ground // Avoid arching back // Do not use arms to help rotate hips

Seated Ankle Stretch

• Kneel with feet together and toes pointing away from body
• Sit back until glutes touch heels; hold position for 10 to 15 seconds
• Return to start position and repeat for three or four reps

Sets/Reps: 1x3-4
Coaching Points: Squeeze ankles while sitting down // Avoid leaning back with torso when sitting down // Rest arms in a neutral position

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock