After reading about the anatomy of the ankle in the first part, now it’s time to get practical. In this second part, you will learn how important it is to have ankle mobility and how you can achieve it.
Ankle mobility is simply the flexibility of the ankle joint and all the muscles and tendons that surround it.
Poor ankle mobility can sometimes result in pain or discomfort in the joint when doing regular tasks like walking or running. It can also lead to other joints and muscle pain and discomfort as they will have to alter their normal use and movements to compensate. Thus, as an example – a shoulder pain could pass through the spine, hips, and knees, originating all the way down to your ankles because they aren’t moving as they should.
The typical cause for poor ankle mobility is overtraining or the opposite – low physical activity. But let’s delve deeper into the importance of ankle mobility and how we can improve it!
Why Ankle Mobility Is Important
Have you ever struggled to get your hips below parallel when squatting?
Well, the reason for this might be a sign of poor ankle mobility. Lack of ankle mobility can result in arching your lumbar spine to compensate and putting more pressure on your lower back.
As you might guess, ankle mobility can hinder sports performance. However, strong and flexible ankles are also required in our daily lives. Did you know that walking puts 5 times our body weight on the ankles? Furthermore, running puts almost 13 times our body weight on these joints.
As you can see, Dorsiflexion (moving your toes backward) and Plantar Flexion (pushing your toes forward) are involved in so many movements, and it is vital that they are mobile.
But how do you know how flexible your ankles are? Let’s find out in the next paragraph.
How You Can Test Your Ankle Mobility
You can test your ankle mobility in multiple ways, but one of the easiest ones requires no equipment at all, so we will focus on it.
All you need is a wall.
- Kneel in front of the wall with one foot steady on the ground – approximately 5 inches or 12-13 cm from the wall
- Your other foot should lean backward.
- Now, try to touch the wall with your knee closer to the wall WITHOUT lifting your heel.
If you can do that, then you have good ankle mobility. However, if you struggle to do it, then you can benefit from the following movements.
Top 5 Best Ankle Mobility Exercises
Eccentric Calf Raises
Step onto a weight disc, standing upon the balls of your feet. Now, raise one of your legs and start lowering the heel of the other one. Hold the “down position” for 3-5 seconds. Then bend your knees before standing up and bend your knee forward before going up again.
Repeat for 3-4 sets x 12-15 reps.
Goblet Squat With A Kettlebell
Grab a Kettlebell or Dumbbell, hold it in a Goblet-style and get into a squat position. Put your elbows on your knees, so they point out at 11 and 1 on the clock. Bounce a little and get into the squat position again.
Repeat for 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps.
Banded Ankle Leaning Forward
Put a resistance band around the bottom part of your ankle and attach it to something behind you. Start leaning forward without lifting your heel off the ground. Your other foot should lean backward, as in the mobility test.
Repeat for 2-3 sets x 10-12 reps per foot.
Lateral Tibia Glide
Lay on your back and bend one of your knees so your foot is on the ground. Try to move the foot about 30 degrees left and right without lifting your toes or heels.
Repeat for 2-3 sets x 10 reps.
Grab a small bar, lift it as you are doing an overhead press, and get into a squatting position. By keeping your hands up, you put your torso in a more vertical position, and it will be easier for you to go deep as you squat.
Repeat for 2-3 sets x 10 reps and keep the weight low.
We hope that these two parts helped you understand how the ankle works and how you can improve your ankle mobility.
Thank you for reading, and don’t forget to share this article with a friend!
If you’re interested in a FREE 6-Day Joint Mobility Course that covers all of your primary joints and their muscles, with demonstration videos, check this out.