Our feet are amazing parts of the body. Every day they have to carry our entire body weight several thousand times.
Our ankles have to allow a certain amount of mobility. Unfortunately, in times of padded and high heel shoes, our feet are fixed in certain positions. This results in problems that limit the mobility of our ankle joints.
Then a deep squat becomes almost impossible, knee problems develop or we have foot deformities to fight.
That’s why in this article we look at: – why we should improve the mobility of the ankle joints, – which mistakes you have to avoid if you want to improve the mobility of the ankle joints and – 5 exercises with which you can sustainably improve the mobility of the ankle joints.
Why we should improve the mobility of the ankle joints
Our ankle joints are extremely important. We mainly need them for walking, jumping, running or sprinting. But they are also extremely important for good squats or lunges.
If we take a closer look at the ankle joints, we see that there is an upper ankle and a lower ankle.
That The upper ankle joint performs a dorsal and a plantar flexion . Put simply, you pull the foot forward (dorsiflexion) or push the foot away from you ( plantar flexion ).
In contrast, in the lower ankle you pull the outer edge of the foot upwards (pronation) or the inner edge of the foot upwards (supination). Unfortunately, incorrect footwear or a lack of exercise often lead to restricted mobility, which in the long term can lead to knee problems or inflammation of the plantar fascia.
Very often, especially the dorsiflexion in the upper ankle is restricted. In the lower ankle, on the other hand, there is no stability to keep the arch of the foot upright.
In order to stay healthy and pain-free in the long term, we should be able to move and control the upper and lower ankle joints in all directions Set light accents again in training: – We want to stabilize the lower ankle joint to avoid flat feet and get rid of them, – We want to mobilize the upper ankle joint in order to be able to perform exercises such as squats well.
avoid-this-one mistake if you want to improve the mobility of the ankle joints
Many people begin to want to improve the mobility of their ankles when they develop problems or get stuck with an exercise. In order to learn a deep squat, for example, we need movable upper ankle joints.
Then this required position is often trained, pressed and pushed with weights from above. Only in the rarest of cases do we solve the problem with it or achieve our goal. Because if our central nervous system classified the position as safe and stable, the mobility would allow it, wouldn’t it?
Spoiler: If the calf muscles are too weak, your nervous system becomes one Do not allow nice deep squat position. The solution will follow soon.
In order to improve the mobility of the ankle joints, we have to rethink. We have to move the hocks in all dimensions. In addition, we have to make sure that all muscles that act on the ankle are strong enough to be able to stabilize the ankle in extreme positions.
This is the only way to remain pain-free and make progress in the long term.
5-exercises-to-improve-the-mobility-of the ankle-joints
In order to mobilize and strengthen the ankle joints in all levels, you will receive a selection of exercises that have proven to be particularly effective in practice. We will then discuss how you can best integrate them into your training.
Exercise # 1: Toe Pull
Although many have sufficient plantar flexion, it can Toe pull help improve proprioception in the ankle. This is extremely important if we want to have controlled mobility of the ankle joints. To do this, stand upright and place one foot behind you with the instep on the floor.
Now pull your foot forward slightly against the resistance of the ground so that you feel a slight pull in the instep.
Hold the position for 15 to 20 seconds. Then the other foot.
Exercise # 2: Toe Taps
We remember: Our nervous system only allows movement to the extent that the muscles involved are strong.
And quite often the Tibialis Anterior is simply too weak . No wonder a deep squat often doesn’t work. The shin muscles are just too weak!
To train them, toe taps are a simple and very effective exercise !
Just stand with your back against a wall. The feet are about 20 to 30 cm away from the wall. Now lean your upper body against the wall. Stay in a straight line from your heels to your upper back. Now quickly tap the floor with your toes and then pull them towards your forehead.
Do 20 to 30 reps . If you do everything in the right direction, your anterior shin muscles will burn properly !
Exercise # 3: Standing Calf Raises
Very often dorsiflexion in the ankle is limited. To solve this problem, we could stretch, smash or mobilize as much as we can.
OR we just train intelligently.
Because with the standing calf raise, we kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, in the lowest position the calf is stretched and dorsiflexion is improved. On the other hand, we strengthen the calf muscles, which gives us control over the mobility of the ankle joints.
In the following video, Wolfgang Unsöld shows how you can use the standing calf raise to improve the mobility of the ankle joints:
Exercise # 4: Lateral Ankle Tilt
But not only the upper ankle has to be mobile . The lower ankle also wants to be moved regularly. Very often we see that many people are overpronated anyway.
Therefore, it can be a good idea to specifically train the supination of the lower ankle joints. A simple exercise for this is the lateral ankle tilt.
To do this, stand up straight. One foot is placed a little further forward. Now consciously step with your foot on the outer edge of the foot and create a stretch on the outer side of the foot. Keep the stretch short and return to the starting position. Repeat the movement a few times. Then it’s the other foot’s turn.
Exercise # 5: Controlled joint rotation of the ankle
Our joints are made to be moved. And to the greatest possible extent that is possible. Preferably every day. One of the best ways to improve the mobility of the ankle joints are so-called CARs.
CARs is an English acronym ( controlled articular rotations ) and loosely translated means controlled joint rotations . To do this, simply sit down, lift your foot off the floor and rotate your ankles slowly and in a controlled manner. 10 times in one direction, 10 times in the other.
A lot of receptors are stimulated and we receive a strong input in the brain. With force and pressure and being pushed around, we always get our joints in extreme positions. But can we stabilize the position? That is seldom the case. CARs help us to eradicate exactly this weak point .
You can find a complete routine with CARs for your whole body here.
Bonus exercise with the fascia roller
In addition to the mobilization and strengthening exercises listed, it is particularly useful to use the fascia roller .
In this way I achieve a reduction of adhesions of the fascia structure and a simultaneous reduction in tension. The result: an additional increase in mobility.
How do you build include these exercises in your training?
You now know which exercises you can use to improve the mobility of the ankle joints. But how do you best incorporate the exercises into your training? It’s nice that you ask!
If you want to do squats during training, it is of course a good idea to work on the mobility of your ankles beforehand.
The warm-up is the right time for this ! In this free guide you can find out how to integrate the exercises in the smartest and most effective way and in what order into your warm-up.
Simply enter them and integrate them directly into your training.
Good luck with your training!