They don’t get as much press as the hips and lower back, but the ankles and wrists are big-time players when it comes to making your movement—in and out of the gym—more efficient, pain-free, and easier on the other joints. If you suffer from stiff joints, follow the plan below to free them up and experience better movewrisment and enhanced strength.
The Cause

If you don’t use the ROM in a certain joint, you can lose it pretty quickly. “The body works from the ground up,” says Chris Cooper, owner of AMP Training in Long Island, NY. “Losing mobility in the ankle will throw off the entire chain, whether you’re doing squats or lunges.” The same is true for the wrists in relation to your elbows and shoulders.

The Fix

Think of mobility as strength-bility, because without it, you’ll never be able to lift big weights. Aim to gain more ROM in the ankle and wrist joints. Then reinforce that newfound ROM with exercises to strengthen them. Both joints are like hinges—they move up and down. However, the ankle and wrist are unique, as they can slightly move side to side.

Wrist Flexion Series

Standing up, extend your hand up and then move it side to side for 20 reps. Repeat with your hand extended down.

For an added challenge, wrap a band around your wrists.

Banded Ankle Distraction

Loop a band around one ankle and the other end to a power rack. Lean the knee of the looped ankle forward until it’s over your toes.

Perform 3 sets of 20 reps for each ankle.