If you have poor ankle mobility you are putting your self at more risk of injury, as well as lowering your ability to perform. The fact is that many people struggle with ankle mobility, and suffer the consequences. The good news is that you can get your ankle mobility to a better than satisfactory level very quickly with the right exercises. It just takes a little consistency and diligence.
Why Do I Have Bad Ankle Mobility?
The first question you need to ask is why you have poor ankle mobility. It usually stems from a few different problems. Modern day footwear usually have a raised heal, which means that you never go into full dorsi flexion (lifting your foot up). Bad posture is often a common cause, with many of in an anterior pelvic tilt. We actually never really go into full dorsiflexion in daily life, i.e a full squat. You may have suffered an ankle injury which leads to poor ankle mobility. You may have extremely tight calf muscles which lead to an inability to dorsi flex your ankle.
A combination of those things can mean you don’t have a ton of movement at the ankle joint, and there are ramifications. When you need to go into a full squat, jump, or run really fast you need to be able to dorsi flex your foot. If you can’t you are automatically placing a lot more stress on the knee joint, as it is doing the bending and taking up the slack for you.
Ankle Mobility Test
There are two ways you can check your ankle mobility. Make sure you take a look at either side, comparing the two. Having a better ability to bend in one ankle than the other can place even more stress on one knee.
Knee to Wall Test
Check out this video. You want to be able to have your foot at least 10cm away from the wall.
Try to squat and not lift your heels off the ground, see how far down you can go. Then get a two books the same height, or a small board and put your heels up onto that board. From there try to squat. If you notice you can do down much further, then you probably have slightly reduced ankle mobility and need to do some work. You will be able to feel if it is your ankle restricting you or your hips once you raise your feet up onto the books. Your hip mobility will not improve with the raised heels, and you can rule it out as a problem.
How To Get Better Ankle Mobility
You can achieve better ankle mobility through soft tissue work and exercises, and in some cases a combination of the two. I suggest you do some soft tissue massage work through your calf and your plantar fascia. If both are tight they can restrict the movement at the ankle. The exercises you can undertake are similar to the test, working against the wall and just trying to get extra motion each time.
Plantar fascia release
Knee band with soft tissue work.
Knee to wall exercises
Calf stretch with mobility
Try to add these exercises to your work out routine. You can do them in the warm up to try to achieve more mobility before doing your exercises. To gain more ankle mobility, you need to be persistent and consistent in the work that you do. It won’t happen overnight, but with some diligence you can achieve a good range of motion quickly.