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Mobility Monday: Upgrading Your Ankle Mobility

There’s a very common ankle mobility drill where you stand facing a wall and attempt to touch your knee to it.

It’s a common rehab protocol for ankle injuries that has become popular as a mobility exercise.

In itself, as a specific rehab drill, there’s little wrong with it. But for an otherwise uninjured person, it’s lacking as a mobility drill.

Here’s why…..

The ankle joint, or in geek terms, the Talocrural joint, bends forwards and backwards, but it never acts alone. Really what we need to work on is Foot AND Ankle mobility.

Rarely is there much of an issue with the talocrural itself, that’s the two shin bones (Tibia and Fibula) sitting astride the Talus bone. Much of the mobility issues we see in this region is actually in the sub-talar joint, or the foot itself.

Image courtesy of Primal Pictures

I’ve written many posts on the foot, some before I began studying Anatomy in Motion (AiM), and some after. Before studying AiM, I like many didn’t fully appreciate the intricacies of the foot and the value of having all 33 joints per foot moving freely.

Getting these bad boys to play nice doesn’t take as much work as you might think, and our knee to wall drill goes a long way towards giving us that ability, with a slight tweak.

The tweak is to work at various angles, from outside the pinky toe, inside the big toe and along each individual toe in turn.

5 toes, plus outside either extreme gives us 7 different angles, but feel free to play with more. Look for the line that feels right, spend most time there and run over the rest just to fill in the gaps.

Hopefully you will notice how as you come to the big toe side, you push the arches of the foot flat (prontation) and as you go to the pinky side the arches are lifted (supination)

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A post shared by Dave Hedges (@dave_hedges) on Mar 20, 2019 at 4:58am PDT

[NOTE: I’m demoing with a stick because I couldn’t get a good camera angle at the wall, you use a wall!]

It is vitally important to our overall movement ability that our foot can freely experience both pronation and supination, these two states of the foot (opposite ends of a continuum) are part of the unique make up of the Homo Sapiens anatomy and is a huge contributor to our unrivaled ability to ambulate effectively on two legs.

Have a play with the drill and see how it feels.

Once you have a good sensation of the foot and ankle complex moving, I then invite you to try out the “Banana-Pancake” which removes the guiding wall and increases the loading of those joints.

And if you’re struggling to make any headway at all with these exercises, it might be time to book in for an assessment to figure out why.


Dave Hedges

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