Ankle Mobility 101 | Part 1 – Anatomy & Functions

Ankle mobility is important in exercise for a proper squat, but even more so in daily life.

All of our joints that stack above it are also dependant upon your ankle mobility. A lacking range of motion in your ankles causes other joints and tissues to compensate. Over time, this can lead to pains and discomfort, as oftentimes they aren’t meant to move this way or become overused, having to pick up for lagging ankles.

A strong and flexible ankle makes our whole body more functional.

Let’s start with the anatomy of the ankle.

Ankle Anatomy

An article from YPO explains it best.

The ankle joint connects the leg with the foot and has three prominent bones:

  1. Tibia (shin bone) 
  2. Fibula (calf bone) – next to the shin bone
  3. Talus (ankle bone) – above the heel bone


The bony bumps (or protrusions) seen and felt on the ankle have their own names:

  • The medial malleolus – by the tibia is on the inside of your ankle
  • The posterior malleolus – by the tibia is on the back of your ankle
  • The lateral malleolus – by the fibula is on the other aspect of the ankle 


There are 33 joints in the ankle. One of the most important ones is the hinge joint, which is responsible for bending, extension, and flexion. In general, the ankle and the foot joints provide stability and support your body when walking and running. The ankle also has soft tissues that support the bones.

Soft Tissues of the ankle are:
  • Cartilage – allows smooth movements in between the bones
  • Ligaments – connect bones to other bones providing stability to the joints
  • Muscles – the foot has 20 muscles in total, and some of them are around the ankle:
    1. Anterior tibial muscle: it is responsible for the up and down movement of the foot
    2. Posterior tibial muscle: it supports the arch of the foot
    3. Peroneal tibial muscle: is responsible for action on the outside of the ankle.
    4. Extensors: they allow the ankle to raise the toes before stepping ahead.
    5. Flexors: they stabilize the toes against the ground
  • Tendons – soft tissues that connect the muscles to the bones (Achilles tendon is the largest and the strongest one in our bodies )
  • Bursae – these are tiny fluid-filled sacs, which reduce friction between tendons and bone or skin


After learning the ankle anatomy, let’s jump into the functions of this important joint.

Functions Of The Ankle

According to DrGlassDPM, The ankle joint is primarily responsible for managing the body’s weight with or against the ground force.

That means that this joint is responsible for:

  • Plantar Flexion – downward motion away from your foot (imagine how you press the gas pedal of a car)
  • Dorsiflexion – backward bending and contracting of the foot

It also allows for open-chain pronation and supination of the foot. Closed chain motion is more complex since the ground inhabits most calcaneal motion, and the ground also blocks all movement produced by equal and opposite motion.


We hope that this information is enough to understand how the ankle works and what its functions are.

Now, if you want to get more practical, continue with our second part, where we are breaking down how to build ankle mobility, and share with you some of our favorite exercises.

Thank you for reading this informative article, and don’t forget to share it with a friend. For even more Mobility information and exercise that will help you relieve pain, feel younger, move better, and improve your wellbeing – please check out our FREE 6-Day Mobility Course!


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