In the strength and conditioning world, you always hear people preaching about “moving better” and becoming more mobile and/or stable. There is nothing wrong with these things, but often times we need to be a bit more specific.
Ankle mobility plays a vital role in pretty much every lower body movement. If you are lacking dorsiflexion, it can negatively affect your gait, squat, lunge and deadlift.
There’s no need to dive into the potential negative consequences but today I want to share with you three of my favorite drills to improve ankle dorsiflexion.
Here is a quick video showing these ankle mobility drills:
The first thing we need to do is to address the soft tissue. I always like to start with a couple minutes of lacrosse ball work on the bottom of the foot. Spend some time working out that gunked up plantar fascia! You walk around all day on those feet so the least you can do is show them a little bit of love.
Next, let’s move on to addressing the soft tissue in the anterior tibialus, the tissue near the Achilles, and pretty much all aspects of the calf. Spend a couple minutes performing these drills daily, your body will thank you.
1. Ankle Glides
The first drill in the video is a traditional ankle glide. It’s important to mobilize the ankle with a nice neutral foot. If you decide to perform ankle glides on a pronated foot, it will not increase your ankle mobility where you actually need it.
Once the foot is neutral, keep the heel down and glide the knee over the fourth and fifth metatarsal. You can perform some long sweeping glides or you can find the and range of your mobility and perform some light bumps up against that end range.
I usually perform 12 to 15 glides on one ankle, then 12 to 15 bumps at end range and then repeat on the opposing side.
2. Ankle Circles
Ankle circles can be tremendously valuable, but they look tedious and a bit boring. However, when done correctly, they can do wonders for your ankle mobility and overall joint health. The key is to perform the circles very slowly and make the circle as big as possible. Perform these with a nice tall spine and try to improve your overall range of motion on each circle.
Perform 10 to 15 circles in each direction.
3. Calf stretch with a posterior weight shift
This drill is a three-fer! You can improve ankle dorsiflexion, strengthen the arch of your foot and get a great hamstring stretch all at once!
Try to perform this drill starting with the heel down and the foot in a perfectly straight line. Keep the knee aimed over that fourth metatarsal and perform the drill.
You will drive up onto your tip toe, control the eccentric movement and land with a nice arch in your foot. Then you’ll drive your heel to the ground and shift your butt back and up towards the sky.
Perform 10 to 15 reps per side.
After you perform these drills, it’s a great time to throw in some goblet squats to cement your new found mobility.
As always, train smart and train hard!