Ankle flexibility & it's effects on the Kinetic Chain
The ability to be able to move the ankle through a full range of motion is of huge importance to the rest of the kinetic chain and the rest of the body. The body’s source of ground contact comes from the foot which is rich propreoceptively(simply provides sensory feedback to the rest of the body to coordinate stability and optimal function right through the kinetic chain) if it is allowed to be. Now what do I mean by that statement? It could mean a number of things and I could go of on tangents about footwear etc, but for the purpose of this article I am going to keep it simple and to the point. If the ankle has poor range (stiff and tight) during gait(walking or running) the force has to go somewhere or else the ankle would be destroyed, so more often then not it will cause the foot to pronate(arch collapse and rolls inwards) to allow what I would call fake dorsi flexion(foot moving closer to the shin) of the ankle and foot to occur so that the rest of the gait process can happen be it with terrible form. The body will find away to survive a movement even if it is putting the strain else ware. What normally happens in this circumstance is the knee collapses inwards which is known as valgus collapse, everyone would have seen this before, it is so common! With all this inward rotation through the ankle and knee, the hip gets sucked in too which makes the hip abductors weak and dysfunctional and leads to the dreaded, ever so common lower back problems.
Really all stability is lost through the whole body. This is not always the case, but for the sake of this article it is. So if this has got you thinking about your ankle flexibility and how you wear high heels and sit all day this next section is for you!
How to gain some mobility and flexibility, first of all assessing the muscle tissue involved, calf’s are a big one here so getting into them with a ball/foam roller/rolling pin works well next we want to make sure you are getting length through that area so stretching your calf off a step with a straight leg and then a bent leg works well, hold the stretch for anywhere north of 90secs. These two work well together to gain flexibility through the muscles. Next we need to improve mobility so this involves the joint and freeing that up. I have attached videos on some effective ways to do this. After this routine it would be good to test your new found ankle freedom with some single leg balancing.
You will also find after doing all of this your stability improves, having a functional ankle and foot allows better propreoceptive feed back from your foot to the brain.
Remember athletes don’t wear high heels or jandals!!!