Anatomy in Action Part II: The Straight Ankle Lock
The straight ankle lock is a damaging submission that pits your entire upper body against your opponent’s ankle. From my experience in the clinic, it is one of the most frequent causes of minor injuries in patients who practice Jiu Jitsu.
The first joint in the ankle is the talocrural joint. It is the meeting between the talus and the bones of the lower leg (the tibia and fibula). This joint is responsible for the up and down motion of your foot, known as plantar flexion and dorsiflexion.
The talocrural joint is very stable due to the numerous structures protecting it. The tibialis anterior muscle, anterior talofibular ligament, deltoid ligament, and the joint capsule all contribute to its stability in this direction. So, once you bring the joint to end range by getting into the attack position, you then have to apply a posterior to anterior force to dislocate the joint.
Having good mobility will help to give you the extra second you may need to escape or tap, but will not stop this submission from working, especially if your opponent is comfortable with the Achilles compression variation of this submission.
One easy drill for both ankle & toe mobility is to assume a quadruped position. Place your feet in either of these two positions and rock back as far as you are comfortable. Hold for 20-30 seconds, return to resting position, and repeat 2-3 times. As you progress, come out of the quadruped position into a kneeling position to perform the stretch.
If you’ve already suffered an ankle injury, it is important to ensure you keep your ankle moving as much as possible in the initial days after injury. This means GENTLE range of motion. Once it is feeling better and you are able to, it is very helpful to start working on single leg balance. This will put good stress on all of the structures in the foot and ankle,
Of course, if you do injure your ankle, it’s best to come in and see a PT ASAP. A good PT can make sure there is no serious damage to your ankle and get you on the fastest track to recovery and the mats with the least risk of re-injury. This video does NOT take the place of a real evaluation by a healthcare professional. If your ankle is not getting better, please consult a Physical Therapist or Physician for more help!