Do you take out time for stretching and focusing to improve your ankle dorsiflexion? Ankle dorsiflexion is associated with a lot of ankle mobility issues like chronic pain, tight muscles, pain injuries in feet, and a lot more. Paying a little attention can go a long way by improving the flexion of your foot. It allows you to bend your foot up towards your shin, which helps you in squatting, spriting, building your strength, and providing the ability to avoid injuries in the hips, knees, and lower back areas.
In this blog, we will discuss what ankle mobility is and recommended exercises to enhance dorsiflexion.
Understanding Ankle Dorsiflexion
Ankle dorsiflexion is a one of the crucial movements, which involves flexing foot towards the upper side, bringing the toes closer to the shin. There are various ankle joints, but the most common and easy to find ankle joint is the talocrural joint, which is primarily responsible for ankle dorsiflexion. If your ankles are weak, including ankle stretching and strengthening in your daily routine will help you prevent injuries. Besides, it will also help you maintain your knee and hips muscles from weakening.
However, it is equally important to maintain the balance between too much dorsiflexion and too little dorsiflexion. Too much ankle movement can cause the ankle to become unstable, leading to pain and inflammation in the ankle joint. Whereas, very little dorsiflexion can create clinical implications like, decreased performance in daily activities like walking and running, increased risk of ankle injuries, and decreased performance in sports activities.
Read more: Exercises to Avoid for Shoulder Impingement
Ankle Mobility Exercises
Here are some ankle mobility exercises that you should follow:
- Deep Squat: A deep squat increases range of motion and flexibility by stretching and mobilizing the ankle joint.
- Ankle circles: Ankle circles ease up the ankle for better dorsiflexion and plantarflexion by encouraging a full range of motion.
- Bodyweight Calf Raise: This exercise helps build up calf muscle strength, which helps to enhance ankle mobility and stability for better overall function.
- Wall Lean Stretch: This exercise promotes ankle flexibility and relieves tension by focusing on the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.
- Downward Dog March: It is a yoga-based technique, which combines stretching and movement Stretching and movement to improve ankle flexibility and mobility.
- Massage Stick for Additional Release: Using a massage stick to relieve calf muscular tension improves ankle dorsiflexion and mobility.
- Half-Kneeling Dorsiflexion Wall Mobilization: This exercise promotes dorsiflexion range and flexibility by stretching and mobilizing the ankle in a controlled position.
- Half-Kneeling Ankle Dorsiflexion with a Dowel: The Half-Kneeling Ankle Dorsiflexion with a Dowel is a stretching exercise that focuses on improving mobility, stretching the calf muscles, and increasing ankle dorsiflexion.
- Half-Kneeling Ankle Dorsiflexion with Your Hand: This stretching exercise increases ankle flexibility and range of motion by gently pushing the ankle into dorsiflexion with your hand while half-kneeling.
- Half-Kneeling Lateral Ankle Glides: This exercise promotes lateral mobility and flexibility for better ankle function by gently moving the ankle to the side while in the half-kneeling posture.
- Half-Kneeling Dorsiflexion with Voodoo Floss: This exercise uses Voodoo Floss bands in a half-kneeling posture to combine pressure and movement to enhance dorsiflexion and reduce muscular tightness, assisting in improved ankle mobility.
- Half-Kneeling Dorsiflexion with a Mobility Band: Ankle Dorsiflexion in a Half-Kneeling Position Using a Mobility Band. The ankle is stretched into dorsiflexion while in a half-kneeling position, increasing the flexibility and mobility of the ankle joint.
- Standing Dorsiflexion Wall Mobilization: This exercise uses a wall to stretch and mobilize the ankle into dorsiflexion, improving flexibility and range of motion.
- Standing 3-Way Dorsiflexion Wall Mobilization: This exercise targets numerous directions to improve ankle dorsiflexion mobility and flexibility. It is performed standing using various foot angles against a wall.
- Standing Lateral Ankle Glides: This exercise encourages lateral ankle mobility and flexibility for better functional movement. It involves lateral ankle movements while standing.
- Push Up Position Ankle Rocks: This exercise involves slowly swaying the ankles back and forth while in the push-up position to increase ankle dorsiflexion and increase lower limb mobility.
- Seated Dorsiflexion Ankle Raises: This exercise strengthens and increases the range of motion of the ankle dorsiflexors, improving ankle control.
- Standing Deficit Dorsiflexion Toe Raises: This exercise emphasizes lifting the toes while ensuring adequate dorsiflexion, which helps to strengthen the ankle muscles and increase mobility. It is performed while standing on an elevated surface.
- Knee Extension with Dorsiflexion: By stretching and moving the ankle joint through a combination of knee extension and dorsiflexion, you can improve overall mobility.
- Toes Elevated Squats: This elevated-toe squat variation increases ankle mobility and enables a more profound squat position.
- Reverse Bear Crawls: While moving backward, reverse bear crawls work the ankle muscles to increase mobility and coordination.
Why Do You Need Ankle Mobility?
Ankle mobility is important because it allows you to move your foot and ankle freely without any issues. Here are some of the reasons why you need ankle mobility:
- Ankle mobility helps in performing daily activities like climbing stairs, walking, running, and doing daily house chores.
- It also helps in preventing injuries by improving your balance and coordination.
- Ankle mobility is highly crucial in sports, like soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis, and other snow sports like skiing and snowboarding. Having poor ankle mobility can cause you leg and back injuries.
Read more : Exercises to Avoid for Shoulder Impingement
The Importance Of Ankle Dorsiflexion
There are multiple research papers, which show that ankle dorsiflexion is crucial for injury prevention. A study by Journal of Sport Rehabilitation found that athletes with less ankle dorsiflexion have higher chances to experience ankle injuries.
Whereas, another study by Journal of Athletic Training found that athletes with balanced ankle dorsiflexion comparatively performed better in the jumping tests. Apart from this, limited ankle dorsiflexion can cause redressing movements, affecting the knee and leading to achilles tendon, ACL injuries and patella tendon.
Here are some importance of ankle dorsiflexion:
- Ankle dorsiflexion enhances mobility and provides flexibility, allowing a natural range of motion for daily activities like.
- It helps in reducing the risks of injuries like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, achilles tendinopathy, and more.
- Optimal ankle dorsiflexion is required to have proper squat depth and performing lunges for athletes. It maintains stability and right posture during the movements.
Ankle Mobility Deficits And Injuries
Achilles tendinopathy, ACL injuries, and plantar fasciitis are among the most common caused by poor ankle mobility. Restricted ankle dorsiflexion affects the natural kinetic chain in the case of Achilles tendinopathy, altering biomechanics and putting an excessive amount of stress on the Achilles tendon. Over time, tendinopathy may occur as a result of an injured tendon becoming inflamed and painful.
Additionally, restricted ankle mobility reduces the body’s capacity to distribute and absorb pain when performing weight-bearing tasks. The Achilles tendon, among other muscles and tendons, is put under more stress when the ankle cannot dorsiflex adequately. This increased stress can eventually lead to tendinopathy.
Quick Tips To Improve Ankle Dorsiflexion
Here are some quick tips to improve ankle dorsiflexion:
- Work on Strengthening the Muscles: To increase stability and lower the chance of ACL injuries, work on strengthening the muscles around the knee, especially the quadriceps and hamstrings.
- Engage Glutes and Quadriceps: Regularly engaging your glutes and quadriceps during lower-body workouts or movements will help you regulate the position of your knee, promoting good alignment and minimizing stress on the ACL.
- Regular Ankle Mobility Exercises: To improve dorsiflexion, include ankle mobility exercises in your daily routine. Exercises that improve ankle flexibility like calf stretches, ankle circles, and heel lifts ease knee stress, and help avoid ACL injuries.
- Prioritize Dynamic Warm-Ups: Make sure you perform an energetic warm-up before doing physical activities or playing sports. Include exercises that actively engage the ankles, knees, and hips to help the joints move more easily and with less chance of injury.
What Can Limit Ankle Mobility?
Have a look the major three elements that can limit the ankle mobility:
- Talocrural Joint: The talocrural joint plays a major role in the mobility of ankles, which is made up of the tibia, fibula, and talus bones. The ankle’s range of motion and general flexibility may be severely limited by restrictions within the joint itself, such as bone anomalies, arthritis, or prior traumas.
- Soft Tissues: Ankle mobility is strongly impacted by the muscles surrounding the ankle, such as the gastrocnemius, soleus, and peroneal muscles, as well as the fascia and connective tissues. Dorsiflexion and plantarflexion of the ankle joint may be limited by tightness or adhesions in these soft tissues.
- Metatarsophalangeal (MTP) Joint of the Big Toe: The interaction between the big toe and the feet structure is crucial for proper ankle mobility. Ankle mobility can be impacted by restrictions in the first MTP joint’s range of motion because they prevent the foot from adapting and shifting effectively during movement and other activities. These restrictions are frequently caused by problems like hallux rigidus or poor foot mechanics.
Using The 80/20 Rule For Ankle Dorsiflexion
According to the Pareto principle, which is also known as the 80/20 rule, for many events, around 80% of the effects result from 20% of the causes. This rule is applied to multiple aspects of life, including ankle dorsiflexion. The 80/20 rule states that in the instance of ankle dorsiflexion, you can get 80% of the results by concentrating on the 20% of elements that have the most impact on it.
The 80/20 rule underlines the necessity to focus on the underlying 20% of problems producing limited mobility rather than only treating the outward symptoms in the ankle dorsiflexion. People can significantly and sustainably improve, ensuring long-term advantages instead of transient relief, by recognizing and concentrating on these essential variables, such as tight muscles, joint limits, or poor mechanics.
80/20 is an strategic and efficient approach for ankle dorsiflexion. Individuals can get a significant 80% improvement in ankle mobility by focusing their efforts on the 20% of exercises, stretches, or strategies that produce the most noticeable benefits. This strategy results in steady progress, allowing people to sustain and build on these improvements over time, leading to enhanced functional movement and a decreased risk of accidents caused by restricted ankle mobility.
The first step to better mobility and injury avoidance is to understand the importance of ankle dorsiflexion. Give priority to activities that will strengthen and stretch the ankle, enhancing range of motion and lowering the risk of numerous ankle-related injuries.
In addition to incorporating ankle mobility exercises into your routine, you can also consider participating in Online Zoom Classes or seeking personal training to further enhance your ankle dorsiflexion. These options provide structured guidance and professional expertise to help you achieve your mobility goals effectively.