One of the most common flexibility problems is limited ankle dorsiflexion range of motion. I’ve written before about how ankle stiffness contributes to overpronation and flat feet. Decreased ankle mobility is a likely contributor to a number of problems in the knees and hips.
1. Knee taps at the wall from the same position as the lunge test
The wall lunge test is a useful tool to measure how you’re dorsiflexion range of motion is improving. The goal of the test is to be able to touch your knee to the wall with the foot 10 cm away without the arch collapsing or the heel lifting off the floor.
This exercise uses the same position as the wall lunge test. Place your foot between 5 and 10 cm away from the wall. Bending from the ankle, try to bring your front knee to the wall without moving your foot or having your ankle roll inward.
2. Mobilization using an exercise band from half kneeling
This exercise requires an exercise band or strap secured around a stable object. Place the band as shown in the picture making sure there is some tension on the band. Lunge forward bringing the knee directly over the foot.
3. Mobilization using a dowel from half kneeling
Using a dowel or broomstick held upright and placed on the outside of your front foot as a guide, luge forward so that the front knee passes to the outside of the dowel.
I’ve also included a video of the three ankle mobility drills above.
There are a number of different ways to go about fixing ankle stiffness. Since everyone is different, some people may find they have more success with a certain exercise over another. Here are some exercises from around the web that might be useful for anyone wanting some options:
Self ankle mobilization with strap (Video): This one is interesting because it uses a mobilizing force opposite to the direction of the exercise I was doing with the band.
Rocking ankle mobilization (Video): People who experience knee pain with squatting might not tolerate some of the other exercises listed that require a lot of knee flexion. This technique keeps the leg straight and is performed from what looks like a calf stretching position.
Deep squatting (Video): A great concept from the Mobility Wod site. The deep squat is under utilized in Western societies. Doing it with the feet pointed straight like in this video is a good ankle mobilizer. I still work on getting into that position while controlling pronation. Not easy.