An ankle sprain is a relatively common injury and depending on the severity most people find themselves returning to normal function and activity after a few weeks. Many people however, return to physical activities prematurely without checking all the boxes, ankle mobility in particular.
Without adequate mobility in the ankle, it becomes more difficult to for our feet to cushion us against injury, especially in sports that require quick changes in direction. As a consequence, we predispose ourselves to re-injuring the ankle, or forcing another part of body to compensate.
It’s not just fast paced sports that require good ankle movement either. For example, stiffness in the ankle makes completing a standard squat with good technique rather difficult. To achieve a deep squat without ankle mobility, the lower spine often ‘rounds out’ to compensate but this places unnecessary load on the back and poses a greater injury risk.
An effective ankle is stable and at the same allows for full range of movement. This means running should not be painful, ridged or make the ankle feel like it will ‘give way’. When focusing on ankle stiffness, there are a variety of factors including muscles, tendons, joint limitation, scar tissue, spurs and neurological structures which may be contributing to the cause.
Although the foot and ankle does contains a dense network of structures, there are some very easy exercises which can improve your ankle mobility. Our Boronia Physio Michelle Lam demonstrates these below.
Using something like a broomstick, lunge back and forth with your knee whilst alternating between left and right of the broomstick. If you can’t get your knee past your toes, just focus on practicing that first!
With this exercise, you can use a belt/heavy resistance band. Keep both feet firmly anchored and slowly lunge back and forth. The band should wrap below the ankle on the leading foot, which is on the step