How to Improve Ankle Mobility

A model of the human ankle showing bones, muscles, and ligamentsRarely 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. Here is a breakdown of the dynamics involved with our ankle and movement.

This part of our body is vital, and we can truly know when it is hurt. Ankle pain and swelling are common responses to ankle problems.

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, and jogging all require 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. Some may be thinking, what is ankle mobility?

How Does the Ankle Work?

The ankle is a body joint made of three bones that allow for the plantarflexion (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. 

This motion can be experienced when driving a car and pushing on the accelerator. This movement may be difficult for some that have ankle issues; there are plenty of ways you can tell and how to improve ankle mobility.

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, tenderness when you touch the ankle, restricted ankle mobility, ankle pain, and a popping or throbbing sensation when moving.

It is important to know how to treat an ankle sprain. Depending on the severity of the injury to the ankle, over-the-counter drugs can be administered to an individual. A self-care regimen is recommended to 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.

Close-up of a person rubbing their foot through a white athletic sock

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

One of the things that you might be wondering about is how to improve ankle mobility? There are a few options for you to try.

Ankle rotation: repeatedly moving your ankle in clockwise and anticlockwise directions allows for strengthening of the muscles and tendons. This strengthening will help to increase ankle mobility.

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 and ankle stability.

Start Improving Your Ankle Mobility Today

If you are looking for help with plantar flexion and dorsiflexion, schedule an appointment at Cawley Physical Therapy now. Our expert team of healthcare professionals will sit down with you to talk about your goals, needs, and limitations in order to develop a personalized treatment plan.

Improved ankle mobility is just a phone call or email away. Reach out to Cawley Physical Therapy at 570-208-2787 or