Thursday, 27 June 2019

Ankle Mobility - very key to any good movement, walking, jumping, squatting

Whether it is to walk, run or to get more depth or efficient effort and strength with your gym movements ankle mobility is VERY important and the most important movement is DORSIFLEXION. This movement is decreasing the angle between your shin and the top of the foot (or bringing your toes up towards your head).

Good dorsiflexion is key when walking to enable the whole foot to roll from landing the heel to rolling through to the toes and the same for running, or when squatting or jumping allowing us to get low to the ground to then push upwards. Plus being able absorb impact through the foot and letting that disperse upwards through the body. Good dorsiflexion can help to avoid injuries in the knees, hips and low back areas.

This movement is achieved at the talocural joint, which is formed by the bottom of the shin (tibia bone) and the top of the foot closest to the shin (talus). This joint provides backwards and forwards movement of the foot (dorsiflexion and plantarflexion) and allows for the shin to move forward, relative to the foot, and this is crucial for correct body positioning and efficient production, application and absorption of force.

If we lack dorsiflexion movement then the tibia tends to be stuck in a vertical position and so it can cause our whole body to lean forward, and when we bend at the knees perhaps they bend inwards or the lower back curves more in order to compensate. Plus the reduced ability to absorb force places higher demands on the knees, which may lead to tendinopathy [i] of the knee or an increased risk of pain or injury.

What causes poor dorsiflexion? Examples are:

- Ankle sprains or strains, causing a build up of scar tissue, which is dense and stiff.
- Wearing high heeled shoes (could be a heeled trainer too)
- Overuse tension in the calves and/or Achilles tendon
- Achilles sprains, strains tears
- Arthritis (which causes inflammation of the joints)

So to aid good dorsiflexion the calves’ soft tissues need to be relaxed and lengthened:

Soft tissue release exercises for the calves to try at home

1 – Foam roller the calf

Copy and paste this video link – [ii]

2. Banded ankle dorsiflexion– use a resistance band or similar and tie around a table leg (or something similar) and place the band around the ankle joint and encourage forward movement of the shin (knee over the big toe).

Copy and paste this video link –

3. Calf stretches

You maybe be familiar with these, it is always good to do a mix of calf stretches.
- Standing, take one leg behind you to get a straight leg stretch (you can also lean into a wall for support to get a deeper stretch.
- Standing on step and allowing one, or both ankles, to drop down off the step

We have two calf muscles and to stretch the deeper one you need to bend your knee:
- Standing, take one leg forward one back, and bend into the forward knee keeping the knee straight over the big toe. (see picture to left ).

These exercises are focused on creating mobility in the ankle joint. It is also important to make sure the ankle is stable.

NB. Please only do these exercises to your comfort.

If you would like any further advice, treatment or exercise suggestions please call 07738257873 or email.

[ii]Please note I am not affiliated with “The Online Physio Coach”, I just found these videos were useful to demonstrate these exercises.