Dynamic Axial Resistance Device (DARD) Raise
This article explains how to perform dynamic axial resistance device raises using perfect form to strengthen the shin muscles and maintain muscular balance in the lower-leg musculature.
Exercise equipment needed
In order to perform this tibialis anterior exercise you will need to use the dynamic axial resistance device (DARD). This is simply a small piece of exercise equipment designed specifically for doing dorsiflexion, inversion, and eversion exercises. This gym-bag-size weight-training tool can protect against shin splints by developing the muscles that lie on the anterior portion (compartment) of the lower leg, on the lateral side of the tibia. We call these muscles anterior tibial muscles or front shin muscles.
Exercise instructions for dynamic axial resistance device raises
STARTING POSITION (SETUP): Sit upright on the end of a bench or training table. You should be elevated high enough so that your feet do not touch the floor. Place the pads of the DARD on the upper portion of your feet.
MOVEMENT (ACTION): Dorsiflex your feet against the resistance of the device. Ankle dorsiflexion is a fancy term that essentially means moving your foot so that your toes get closer to your knee. Pause for one count at the top and return slowly to the starting position.
- Do not overdo this exercise, especially when you are first trying it.
- Start with light weight and only a few reps and work your way up.
- Resistance can be varied in small increments by changing the size of the plates commonly used for weight training with the adapter.
You can try this exercise using only one foot for added challenge. Balancing is difficult, however, so you will have to use very light weight.
Alternative (replacement) exercises
You can simply replace this ankle dorsiflexion exercise using some of the following exercises listed below:
- Resistance-band dorsiflexion;
- Functional-trainer dorsoflexion;
- Weight-plate seated dorsiflexion;
- Heel walk;
- Functional-trainer hip flexion with dorsiflexion;
- Standing dorsiflexion;
- Resistance-band inversion;
- Resistance-band seated dorsiflexion;
- Seated dumbbell toe raise;
- Seated cable toe raise
Muscles engaged in dynamic axial resistance device raises
When to perform this exercise?
Late in your leg workout. Preferably perform this exercise for your shin muscles as the last exercise.
Closing thoughts: why dynamic axial resistance device raises?
The calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) are used extensively in running, too. Because of their involvement in every running stride, many people think that runners should focus their training on strengthening calf muscles. Indeed they should, but it is also important to strengthen the weaker counterpart, the shin muscles (anterior tibialis).
If you strengthen only the larger and stronger calf muscles, they will eventually overpower the smaller and weaker shin muscles, which may lead to shin splints, stress fractures, and Achilles tendon problems. With this in mind, we recommend that runners always conclude strength training workouts with a set of weighted toe raises to strengthen the shin muscles and maintain muscular balance in the lower-leg musculature.
Therefore, this ankle dorsiflexion exercise using DARD device will for sure solve a specific problem in training high-performance athletes and body builders.