The Best Drills to Improve Ankle Mobility
For the fitness athlete, ankle mobility may be the most critical joint in the body. Without adequate ankle dorsiflexion, many functional movements like squats, push presses, and running will have altered form. The following article will outline what we believe to be the five best drills to improve ankle mobility.
As an illustration of how poor ankle mobility can impact performance, watch the following video. Notice how much limiting ankle motion changes torso and shoulder position! This will significantly increase the risk of injuries to the shoulder.
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While the following exercises are all great, your best option for rapidly improving your ankle joint range of motion is to follow a proven plan that has helped hundreds unlock their stiff ankles. Check out our Ankle Mobility Overhaul program and get started improving your movement today!
For more help improving your mobility, access our FREE mobility checklist!
The Best Ankle Mobility Drills
Lateral Tibial Glide
When working ankle mobility to try and improve squat depth, one crucial thing to consider when working ankle mobility is that our knees are pushed forward and OUT as we squat. This lateral movement is commonly ignored in ankle range of motion work. My favorite exercise to address this component is to work on lateral tibial glide with the following movement.
An even more aggressive stretch to address both ankle dorsiflexion and the lateral component just addressed is an exercise I call “The Wedge.” A resistance band wraps around the athlete’s hips, pulling their knees forward. The athlete puts their elbows inside the knees and simultaneously presses out to work lateral ankle motion.
When working on driving the knees forward, my most common exercise prescribed is dorsiflexion PAILs/RAILs. The combination of static stretching plus active muscle isometric contractions in this modified half-kneeling position greatly improves ankle motion.
I use many eccentric contractions for athletes who feel their ankle range of motion is primarily limited by tight calves. For the ankle, we do that with a slow lower into a stretch with the knee straight, then bend the knee to hit the soleus muscle of the calf.
For athletes with more ankle mobility limitations in the front of the joint, I tend to lean more towards using the following resistance band mobilization to address joint stiffness. This mobilization works great for athletes with limited ankle dorsiflexion due to ankle impingement issues or after ankle sprain
Ready to unlock your stiff ankles? Join Performance Plus Programming and get started on our Ankle Overhaul today!