Mobility Monday: Ankle Dorsiflexion.

Our goal at MuvLab is to help people eliminate pain from their daily and athletic lives.  We do this by assessing the body and developing training programs to address imbalances that are present.  Each joint within the body has an optimal range of motion, if this range is limited, it can have a multiplying affect on the entire kinetic chain (body).  Today we’re going to talk about ankle mobility, specifically ankle dorsiflexion.  Ankle dorsiflexion is the motion in which you try to bring your toes to your shins.  Optimal ankle dorsiflexion is 20 degrees.

Common questions we receive in MuvLab nearly every day:

What would cause our ankles to lose mobility? 
Muscular dysfunctions are the main cause of a loss of mobility in any joint.  Many times the dysfunctions develop after an injury.  They are also caused by repetitive overuse, lack of variety in exercise and improper training technique (lack of full range of motion). 

A MuvLab movement specialist will assess you movement to determine if the decreased range of motion is coming from the joint capsule, tight calf muscles, or both.  There are many bones (calcaneous, talus, navicular, cuboid, and cuneiformis) in the foot/ankle that need to be sitting in the right place in order for your ankle to move properly. 

It’s important to note that limited ankle mobility can also be caused by dysfunction at the knee or hip.   Any injury that requires bracing, a boot, or crutches will immediately decrease dorsiflexion due to limited gait.  These injuries could also cause the hip and or knee to rotate internally or externally forcing the body to move in an unnatural manner.

Where could we develop pain if we don’t fix this issue? 
Common injuries we see due to a lack of ankle mobility include:
1. Ankle sprains
2. Achilles tendonitis
3. Plantar Fasciitis

How can we reduce pain?
A corrective exercise plan prescribed by a MuvLab coach will help eliminate this pain.  The plan incorporates manual therapy (when needed), foam rolling tight and static stretching tight muscles, activating weak muscles, and functional exercises to retrain proper mechanics.

Foam Roll / Stretches:
1. Foam Roll- entire calf complex
2. Plantar Fascia Stretch-  roll a golf ball or small ball under the foot
3. Gastrocnemius/Soleus (Calves) Stretch- against wall, on a stair or box

Corrective Exercises:
1. Seated ankle dorsiflexion
2. Single Leg Stabilization Exercises
3. Lunging with full range of motion

As with any injury it’s best to see a licensed practitioner to determine the root cause of the pain.  If you’re experiencing pain talk with the MuvLab staff to schedule an assessment.  We look forward to teaching you how to eleminate pain from your life through manual therapy and corrective exercises.