12 Stretch and Strength Moves for Ankle Mobility

What is ankle mobility?

Ankle mobility refers to the ability of your foot to move freely within its socket. Your feet are able to bend, straighten, and rotate freely inside their sockets. When they do not have enough flexibility or strength in certain joints, it causes pain and discomfort for you.

If you think about it, if your toes were unable to turn inward (flexor hallucis longus) when standing up from a chair would you feel any pain?

No, because your feet are flexible and strong enough to support your weight. However, if you had no flexibility in these joints then you could easily fall off the edge of a table!

The same thing happens with your ankles. You may have some slight pain when walking or running due to tightness in one of them, but if you did not have sufficient flexibility in them, you would most likely suffer severe pain when trying to walk normally.

How does ankle mobility affect my daily life?

Your feet can be very useful tools. They help you to stand upright, run, jump, climb stairs and many other things. But if your ankles are constantly in pain due to tightness in them, then you will probably never enjoy those activities anymore.

So how do we fix this problem?

Well first of all let’s understand what exactly we mean by “tightness”. The main reason that your ankles are tight is that the muscles and tendons that connect your bones to each other are shorter than they should be. This means they cannot longer go through their entire range of motion when extending or shortening. Over time these adhesions build up and start to limit how much your ankle can bend in any direction.The best way to eliminate this problem is to do ankle mobility exercises on a regular basis.

Let’s talk more about what is ankle mobility.

To address the problem of tightness in the ankles, you should perform ankle mobility exercises on a regular basis. These types of exercises are designed to increase the flexibility and elasticity in your ankles. When you are young, your ankles are able to bend and turn much more than when you are an adult. This is because as you grow older, your tendons become shorter and stiffer. While this can be very inconvenient when you are an adult, it is essential that you maintain the flexibility that you had when you were a child.

By performing regular ankle mobility exercises, you can actually reduce the rate at which your tendons become stiffer with age.

Here’s a short video on how to do these drills if you need some help

How should I perform these exercises?

There are many different drills that can help improve ankle mobility. You can either perform these yourself or have a partner assist you by grabbing your foot. Just make sure that you do not push past the point where you feel discomfort, as this may cause injury.

Heel Cord Stretch

This is one of the simplest and most common ankle mobility exercises. All you need to do is touch your toes while keeping your legs straight. Hold for 10-15 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Sources & references used in this article:

Feedback-controlled and programmed stretching of the ankle plantarflexors and dorsiflexors in stroke: effects of a 4-week intervention program by RW Selles, X Li, F Lin, SG Chung, EJ Roth… – Archives of physical …, 2005 – Elsevier

Effects of talocrural mobilization with movement on ankle strength, mobility, and weight-bearing ability in hemiplegic patients with chronic stroke: a randomized … by CM An, SO Jo – Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, 2017 – Elsevier

Effect of ankle mobility and segment ratios on trunk lean in the barbell back squat by EI Fuglsang, AS Telling… – The Journal of Strength & …, 2017 – journals.lww.com

Effects of robot-guided passive stretching and active movement training of ankle and mobility impairments in stroke by G Waldman, CY Yang, Y Ren, L Liu, X Guo… – …, 2013 – content.iospress.com

Examining ways to improve ankle mobility during the overhead squat lift by G Larson – 2014 – udspace.udel.edu

Ankle mobility and postural stability by AA Vandervoort – Physiotherapy theory and practice, 1999 – Taylor & Francis

Serial casting in idiopathic toe-walkers and children with spastic cerebral palsy by B Brouwer, LK Davidson, SJ Olney – Journal of Pediatric …, 2000 – journals.lww.com

Age and sex effects on mobility of the human ankle by AA Vandervoort, BM Chesworth… – Journal of …, 1992 – academic.oup.com

Effects of ankle joint mobilizations in adults poststroke: a pilot study by PM Kluding, M Santos – Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 2008 – Elsevier