Ankle range of motion and mobility is critical for everyday movements, such as walking, going up and down stairs, squatting, lunging, and running. If you have stiff ankles, this can lead to stress and strain at other body areas and predispose you to injuries. You may find that it is hard to squat deeply to the floor. You might be feeling aches and pains in other body areas, such as the hip or knee, with walking or running due to compensations at these areas to make up for limited ankle movement. Our feet and ankles also help to absorb shock and stress with walking and running and this can lead to joint pain and low back pain when the ankles are stiff and shock is absorbed in other body areas that aren’t meant to take it.
The good news is that assessing your own ankles for limited mobility and stiffness can be done right at home. All you need is some open wall space.
Start by kneeling on one leg facing an open wall with the front foot toes distanced five inches away from the wall. Without letting your front heel come up, lunge forward to the wall and see if you can get your knee to touch the wall. If it does, then you have great ankle mobility! If not, this is an area that needs some work.
Let’s go a step further beyond this initial assessment. If you can reach your knee to the wall, read on at Part A. If you can’t reach the wall, read on at Part B.
You can reach your knee to the wall, congratulations, you have great ankle mobility! Let’s assess further to make sure everything is moving well. When your knee is touching the wall, does it feel comfortable? Is there any tension that you can feel? If so, then it can be helpful to maintain this motion by stretching. Doing a simple calf stretch is usually enough to maintain this range the motion.
Let’s further assess why your knee is not getting to the wall. Find the kneeling position again and lunge forward into the front ankle as far as you can without letting the heel come off the ground. What do you feel? If you feel a stretch at the back part of the lower leg, then calf tightness is preventing you from going further forward. Skip to Part C if this is your issue. If you feel tightness or pinching at the front of the ankle, then the ankle joint mobility is preventing further movement. Skip to Part D to learn how to improve your ankle joint mobility.
So, calf tightness is your issue. The good news is that this is easily solved with calf stretching. Make sure to stretch out the calves after exercise and hold for 30 seconds on each leg. The lunge stretch is a good one and super easy to do.
Ankle mobility is your issue. One way to improve ankle mobility is to use the same testing position but as a stretch. Place both of your hands on top of the front thigh, lunge forward into the front foot, and then gently press down. You can hold this position for up to one minute and do gentle pulses at the end range. Just be sure to not push into any pain and stay within a comfortable range.
So, you have learned if you have ankle mobility issues, and a way to fix it! If you want to explore your ankle mobility even further and receive a customized treatment plan, schedule here for a personal mobility assessment with us and we will see you in the clinic!