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  • Writer's pictureEzara

Loaded Ankle Mobility Work

The research shows we need about 10-20 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion for normal gait mechanics.

On the other hand, if you are a gymnast or just a person who likes to squat, you are going to want a lot more:~ 30-40 degrees.

1. So how much ankle mobility do YOU need?

Answer: However much it takes to perform the required task- whatever that may be. There is no one-size-fits all answer, because everyone is different.

2. How do you know if you are limited?

Answer: Well, if you realize you aren’t walking normal (can’t get the heel down or constantly toeing out, knees diving in), or your heels lift up when you squat, lunge or go down the stairs, you are probably already aware of your ankle mobility limitations.

↪But for those who don’t really know, there is something called the standard knee to wall test, which will give you an idea of where you are at in terms of general ankle mobility, but doesn’t tell us much from a movement perspective. This is just one test of many that you can do. It does not capture the full picture of deficits, but it's a nice starting point.

Unfortunately, limited ankle dorsiflexion is one of the most common limitations I see in my gymnasts. Sometimes these restrictions end up causing other problems and compensations, and sometimes they don’t. Either way, I am a big fan of improving mobility and developing a healthier amount of capsular workspace. Every little bit helps!

Here are 4 different exercises you can work on to improve your own ankle mobility through loading.

1️. Barbell Loaded Dorsiflexion with Ankle Rocks. Place the barbell on your knees and slowly rotate side to side while keeping the heels down and pushing the knees forward. 15 reps each side.

2️. Posterior Step Ups with Forced Ankle Dorsiflexion. Step backwards but do not step up until the heel is flat on the step, do the same thing as you step down. Do not let the heel come up as you do these. 15 reps each side.

3️. Incline Forced Ankle Dorsiflexion Loaded Lunges. Push the knee as far as you can forward before lunging. 12 reps each side.

4️. Partial Pistol Squats. Shift knee as far forward as you can before beginning your downward squat. Only move as far down as you can with keeping the heel flat. 8 reps each side.

Try them out, see what works best for you, then pick a couple to add into your warm-up routine a few days a week.

Disclaimer: If you are currently under the care of a PT or MD please consult them before attempting these exercises. These are some general ankle mobility exercises under a load, so if any discomfort/pain is felt please stop and consult a Physical Therapist or PCP.

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