Rarely do we think about the ankle until we have an injury or sprain on the ankle that prevents us from walking properly. Until limping becomes our new form of movement, we may not understand how important ankle mobility is.

Like our backs and faces, taking care of our ankles is just as important. Understanding the mobility involved will enable us to engage in activities that keep us fit. Read on for a breakdown of the dynamics involved with our ankle and movement.

What is Ankle Mobility?

Ankle mobility is defined as the ability of the ankle to move without restraint. Having a poor ankle will limit us to certain athletic activities and even everyday movements. Exercises like squats, running, as well as jogging, requires ankle movements. These movements allow us to twist and turn; in turn, the ankles give maximum support and allow for movement during exercises and training. Athletic individuals like sports, ballerina, dancers, and swimmers rely on their ankle joint movement for motion.

How Does the Ankle Work?

The ankle has three bones that allow for the plantar flexion (down) and the dorsiflexion (back) movements. A plantar flexion movement is the motion of the ankle joint that allows the foot to move the body downwards. You can experience this motion when driving a car and pushing on the accelerator.

A dorsiflexion movement happens when the ankle joint enables the foot to move upward. This movement is facilitated by the tibialis anterior, a muscle in the lower leg—these movements are responsible for walking, cycling, running, and squatting.

Symptoms of an Injured Ankle

Ankle injuries are often a result of the ankle joint being twisted too far away from its normal position. Usually, vigorous activities or incidents can result in an ankle sprain. A ligament tissue holding the ankle can tear, and this causes the ankle to swell. Symptoms of a sprained ankle include ankle swelling, bruising, and tenderness when you touch the ankle, restricted movement, ankle pain, and popping or throbbing sensation when moving.

Depending on the severity of the injury to the ankle, individuals can take over-the-counter drugs. A self-care regimen can also ease the pain and quicken the recovery process. However, seek a physical therapist or an orthopedic specialist to evaluate your ankle to offer the best treatment.

Importance of Ankle Mobility

The range of motions that the ankle joint possesses allows for various forms of movement and exercise to occur. Having a good flexible ankle will help prevent unwanted injuries. When the ligaments, muscles, and tendons are flexible, they can accommodate sudden changes or directions without causing a sprain.

Ankle mobility enables athletes and swimmers to have better motion when flapping their legs while training. It enables them to have better reflexes and strength. These exercises also provide an overall healthy body as one part will supplement the other. General body fitness is achieved when ankle mobility is at its maximum productivity range.

Exercises to Improve Ankle Mobility

Ankle Rotation

Repeatedly moving your ankle in clockwise and anticlockwise directions allows for strengthening of the muscles and tendons.

Heel and Toe Walk

Since your foot and ankle offer support for the body weight and strength, exercising the heel and toe will give you stability and strength around the ankle areas.

Calf Stretch

Maintain a good back and body posture when doing a calf stretch. Bent knee wall stretch, stairs calf rise, towel tug, and ankle bumps will form stretch so that the ankle joint will gain more strength.

Kneeling Position

Sit on your knees and flatten out your feet. This exercise allows your ankle and the anterior tibialis muscles to relax the ligaments.

Improving ankle mobility is a continuing process. Exercising should be a routine. For ankle injuries and severe ligament damage, seek professional therapy that will give you a professional exercise routine to restore mobility in your ankle.

Looking for more help with plantar flexion and dorsal flexion, and the benefits of physical therapy for these movements? Visit Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab today. Email us at cawleyptfrank@gmail.com or give us a call at 570-208-2787.