Home Blog A Sign of Weakness

A Sign of Weakness

Written on June 11, 2007 at 12:48 pm, by Eric Cressey

Q: I figure you would be a good person to ask about a question I have; it deals with excessive dorsiflexion and athletes. Kelly Baggett was explaining how people with excessive dorsiflexion rarely are good athletes. He said it is related to hip position. Could you elaborate on the subject?

A: As usual, Kelly is right on the money! I honestly wonder if the two of us are on some sort of wavelength with one another, as I think you could use our thoughts interchangeably in most cases!

To answer your question, if there is too much dorsiflexion at the ankles, it is generally a sign that you’re not decelerating properly at the knees and hips, so the ankles are taking on an extra percentage of the load. I would suspect weakness of the knee and/or hip extensors.

To be honest, though, not many people are really capable of excessive dorsiflexion, as their calves are so tight. I suspect he’s referring more to the fact that the heel is further off the ground and the knee is tracking forward too much as compensation (related to the quads being overactive, too). If you look at the research on jump landings in female athletes, you’ll find that they land with considerably more knee flexion than their male counterparts. We know that weak hamstrings are very common in females, and that this is one reason for their increased risk of anterior cruciate ligament injuries. The hamstrings are hip extensors, meaning that they also decelerate hip flexion. If they don’t have enough explosive and limit strength to control the drop of the hips upon landing, there’s no other option but to flex the knees extra to cushion the drop. It’s an unfortunate trend that just plays back into the quad-dominance (deceleration of knee flexion).

Obviously, dynamic flexibility plays into this tremendously, too. If you can’t get ROM in one place, your body will seek it out elsewhere.

Eric Cressey

Step-By-Step what it Takes to Become a Superior Athlete

One Response to “A Sign of Weakness”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Well, how about hockey players? Most of the time skaters have to plant the edge on the ice so that the heel touches the ice first or at least at the same time as the toe. This requires a lot of strength from the front of the shin, and a lot of dorsiflexion. How about that? You might be thinking only about running athletes…

  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series