Ankle: opposite of Aunty

If you've ever sprained your ankle, you'll know how important ankle mobility is. After a sprain, rehab to the ankle is a must. Instability and weakness aren't only detrimental to ankle function but will also cause anterior knee pain, weakness in your glutes, and heaps more of problems to boot.

But you're in luck cos I'm going to drop some knowledge bombs in the form of 8 critical stretches & moves to help get you back on track.

1 - CALF ROLL OUT 

Soft tissue mobility rollouts can be very beneficial to the dense muscle tissue that can become overactive. Try isolating one calf at a time and use a ball or foam roller to release the calves.

Place one leg on top of the other to apply pressure into the foam roller or ball. You can turn your foot in and out to find a spot that is stiffer.

Make sure you stay on the stiffer spots for one minute. You may find that you have a few spots along the muscle!

Hold for 1 minute for 2 sets.

 

2 - PLANTAR FASCIA ROLL OUT

The plantar fascia is tissue on the bottom of your foot that can affect the mobility of the ankle and foot. It can also become irritated and painful if it becomes too stiff and overstrains.

Our feet rarely have a chance to move with how often we wear shoes, heels, or sandals. To release this tissue, take a ball and roll it on the bottom of your foot.

You may notice one side is more sensitive to the pressure than the other. Roll on the plantar fascia for one minute & repeat twice.

 

3 - STRAIGHT LEG CALF STRETCH

The calf muscle consists of two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. Both play vital roles in calf and ankle mobility.

To target the gastrocnemius, you want to stretch your calf in a straight leg position.

Hold for 1 minute & repeat twice.

 

4 - BENT KNEE CALF STRETCH

Sometimes the gastrocnemius isn’t the muscle that is tight. To stretch the soleus, bend your knee (back leg) and keep your heel down.

Hold for 1 minute & repeat twice.

 

5 - ANKLE ROCKERS

The most common ankle joint to get stiff is the talocrural joint, which is the joint that is right where the ankle meets the foot.

When you flex your foot up or down, you are moving from the talocrural joint. The motion that typically becomes most restricted is dorsiflexion (pointing your foot up).

To target this joint, place one leg back and one leg forward with your forward leg flexed. Keeping your heel down, rock forward as far as you can on the front foot.

Rock back and forth for 10-20 reps for 1 set.

 

6 - INSIDE/OUTSIDE ANKLE ROCKERS

Rock 10-20 times in each direction. You might notice that you are a little more restricted in one corner versus another.

Rock 10-20 times for 1 set.

 

7 - ANKLE CIRCLES

Ankle circles are an overlooked exercise. They allow the ankle to get motion in the entire ankle.

Working in both the clockwise and counterclockwise directions will help ensure you cover enough area. Work each direction 10-20 times.

Clockwise: 10-20 reps for 1 set.
Counterclockwise: 10-20 reps for 1 set.

8 - PLANTAR FACSIA / TOE STRETCH

Many of the muscles that help flex and extend the toes pass the ankle joint to get to the end of the foot. Sometimes they can get locked up along that path.

Take your foot and pull your toes back. You may feel a stretch on the bottom of your foot. Hold for up to one minute.

Hold for 1 minute for 2 sets. 

With these eight exercises and a ball, you can mobilize your ankles anywhere. Next time you feel your ankles start to stiffen up, give this routine a try to get some mobility back!