Self Ankle Mobilization
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To improve ankle range of motion, there are typically four methods:
1. Stretch your calf muscles
2. Mobilize the ankle joint
3. Work on eccentrics
4. Change the way you move through intentional practice
In this article, we specifically look at number 2, mobilization of the ankle joint. The technique shown in this video is one you can do yourself with your own hands.
Need more hip and low back mobility? Start with Day 1 of our Hip/Low Back Mobility Program for free:
The ankle joint, or talocrural joint, is composed of a bone called the talus (pictured in red) and the tibia and fibula. These three bones create the ankle joint.
When this joint is stiff, it can decrease the amount of ankle dorsiflexion you have.
When your ankle dorsiflexion is limited, it can alter the way you squat, run, and jump. It's important to have full range of motion in this joint.
There are many techniques you can use to improve the range of motion. The one demonstrated in the video and described below is a method you can use with no equipment, just your hands and your ankle.
First, sit on a box as shown in the image with one leg crossed over the other.
Take your hands, grab below your medial and lateral malleoli (the bony parts on the inside and outside of your ankle).
This will essentially put your hands over the talus.
From here, use your hands to pull your foot away from your knee and use the muscles of your leg to pull your knee away from your foot.
Doing this will help to create distraction through the ankle joint.
The second step in this drill, after you've created the distraction with your hands, is to actively pull your ankle into plantar flexion and dorsiflexion.
Plantar flexion is when you point your toes toward the ground.
Dorsiflexion is when you pull your toes up toward your shin.
Go back and forth between dorsiflexion and plantar flexion for 10 reps.
This mobilization can be used before doing any exercises where you want to have more range of motion in your ankles or it can be used as part of a movement maintenance routine to keep all of your joints moving healthy.
You could perform this daily if you'd like.
When grabbing your ankle to create distraction, don't grab too tight. It is a subtle thing. There are some nerves around your foot in this area and you don't need to create an extremely hard grip on this area as it could irritate those nerves if you frequently perform it that way.
Other Things You Can Try
Still need help with your ankles and calves? Where are some other places to look for help:
1. Basic Anatomy of the Calves
2. Banded Ankle Mobilization
3. Learning to load your ankle dorsiflexion
4. Full Squat Warm Up
5. Toe Dexterity
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