Everything I know about how to make your ankles feel great
My Blueprint for Restoring Ankle Mobility and Resilience:
In my years training athletes and coaching clients recovering from injury, I’ve become well-versed in strategies for improving limited ankle mobility. Having endured my own ankle sprains from sports like basketball growing up, I appreciate how fragile these intricate joints can be. Now through in-depth study of functional movements, I focus on a sequential formula to gently regain flexibility and strength.
Typically people “only really focus on” the common calf stretch pulling the toes back. But true ankle health requires all-around motion. So I assess using the “knee over toes” drill, checking if someone can bring the knee forward past the toes while keeping the heel planted. If less than “4 inches, your ankles are tight.” This signals the need to improve dorsiflexion through targeted mobilizations.
The stretch I recommend uses a towel under the knee for padding. Keeping the heel grounded, “you’re going to put your hands on top of your knee like this and push” to intensify the mobilization as the knee tracks forward. Rock gently feeling a release in the Achilles and calf. This motion is essential for everyday mobility in “going downstairs upstairs when we run when we walk.”
Equally beneficial are mobilizing the joint through other ranges of motion - “the lateral ankle stretches.” Turning the foot inward stretches inside tissues while abducting outward opens outer ligaments prone to rolling injuries during walks. Perform these slowly, even in sitting to decrease strain. The toe knuckle stretch rounds things out, bending the toes up targeting dorsal flexibility.
Just as key as flexibility is rebuilding intrinsic strength to stabilize vulnerable ankles through my favorite “calf rocks” sequence. Lifting toes towards the shins engages anterior muscles. Then lower, driving down through the balls of feet working the calf. I coach clients to “rock back and forth...slow and controlled” mastering control through end ranges first seated, then standing. Gradually progressing load and balance challenges fortifies ankles.
Through consistent mobilizations and targeted strengthening centered on joint alignment and muscle engagement, I empower clients to take back control of injured ankles and prevent future issues. My step-by-step training reawakens ancillary muscles and proprioceptive feedback loops critical for resilience. Now when I lead my foot and ankle workshops, participants remark how much steadier they feel doing everyday activities. It’s fulfills me helping others literally get back on their feet!