Ankle Mobility: Your Step By Step Guide
Why Is Ankle Mobility So Important?
Your ankle is a major source of sensory information that your brain uses to plan and produce movement.
In a study of elite athletes, they found that all athletes had an increased sensory awareness compared to non-athletes. Throwing athletes were more aware of the hand and upper body. Running and kicking athletes were more aware of their lower bodies. But, the interesting thing was that all athletes had increased ankle Sensory feedback.
This is super important as it is also the most often injured site of the body. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who hasn’t rolled their ankle.
This is where the issues begin. You roll your ankle, no big deal. You’re back walking on it again in a day or 2.
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Rehabbing Your Ankle.
Whenever you injure an area of the body, the tissues heal, but the brain remembers. In order to decrease pain signals, the sensory feedback volume from your ankle is turned down. Rehab’s role is to turn the volume back up.
Working on ankle mobility is the perfect place to start getting your body back working the way you want it to.
Ankle Mobility Test.
The knee-to-wall test is a great place to start. It lets you know if one side is worse than the other and needs a little extra TLC.
The knee-to-wall test checks your flexibility (joint range in and unloaded position). If this checks out then let’s move onto stability (moving it through a loaded range).
The ankle lean test is great because as mentioned above it measures how well your muscles can control your ankle and also gives you a better idea of the Functional ability of your ankle and whether you are able to use up all your ankle mobility. Or, if you compensate with other areas.
Fixing Ankle Flexibility.
Now you can get in and stretch the muscles at the back and the front if it’s a flexibility issue
Or if you passed the flexibility, but failed the ankle lean it’s time to get them working properly with some stability exercises.
Now It’s Time To Strengthen Your Ankles.
By strengthening up your ankle, it will help you to make use of your ankle mobility.
Calf raises are a great ankle strength and mobility exercise. They can be done anywhere and you don’t need any fancy equipment. The trick is finding the most difficult version you can do well and starting there.
Progressions for Better Ankle Mobility.
- double-leg on a flat surface
- single leg on a flat surface,
- double leg on step,
- single leg on step,
- weighted single leg on step.
Start with 2 sets of 8 reps and as they become easier add a 3rd set. When you are doing 3 set of 8 comfortably you can begin to add more reps (8 then 10, then 12, then 15). Once you have reached 15 reps its time to start adding weight.