- THE MISSING LINK FOR HIP PAIN & KNEE PAIN -
- THE MISSING LINK FOR LIFTING, SQUATTING & RUNNING -
WHAT IS IT?
Ankle mobility is simple how far your ankle moves through the range. Roughly it’s how far your knee goes over your toe whilst maintaining your heel to the ground.
It is important because it can signal to us that you may not be shock absorbing well through this joint and you may be sending forces unnecessarily to other joints in your body.
This can cause ongoing pain and niggles and worst of all you may be looking in the wrong spot for your issue.
HOW DO I MEASURE IT? HOW DO I KNOW IF IT'S AN ISSUE?
A simple measure can be the knee to wall test. Simply, lunge your knee into the wall and keep your heel down. Measure the distance between your toe and the wall. If you can do it, move your foot further away from the wall. You’ll eventually hit a point where your heel has to lift. This would be your knee to wall score.
We like to see around 8cm or greater of ankle mobility on both sides. Less mobility than this would indicate you are quite stiff and tight either in the ankle joint or the calf and soleus muscles around the joint.
You can often feel if it’s muscular as you will feel a muscular stretch or pulling at the back of your leg. If it’s the joint causing your stiffness you will usually feel this lower down around the front or sides of the ankle.
Greater than 8cm on this test means you can do a decent squat, descend stairs etc without running into your joint or stressing other joints above it like your knee.
This is why ankle mobility is important. You need the range at the ankle so you don’t load up your knee, making your knee get irritated and even changing the way you move. Think of the old lady crabbing down the stairs… this is usually from the ankle not being able to move through range so they use a hip dominant strategy… don’t be the old lady.
SIDE BY SIDE DIFFERENCE?
You want to also make sure you don’t have a difference in ankle mobility between your left and right side. A difference of 2cm or more can mean that one your sides are moving well, whilst the other side is stiff or having to compensate by using your knee or hip more to do something basic like going down a stair.
If one side is significantly different this can be the cause of knee pain, hip pain and back pain during anything from walking, running, stairs, squatting and other performance tasks like F45 and CrossFit.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
Kinetic chain baby. Think of your body like a whip. If all the parts don’t move well, one linking to the other, then you don’t get the result, in this analogy a cracking whip.
If your ankle doesn’t move well and transfer all the energy efficiency to the next moving part, you don’t get the result, a good run, a good lift or a healthy knee. This is the kinetic chain. If one part is moving well the next part will suffer.
We often see people who have had issues higher up in the body like hip pain and knee pain and they have never had their ankles assessed. Once assessed a simple ankle mobility drill like in this video can make a huge difference.
WILL THE CHANGES STICK?
It really depends. What we do know if you can get an improvement in this drill then you will have better movement going on your walk, run or gym session. If you have better movement during those activities you are less likely to experience other issues and even make those changes permanent.
Some people don’t get permanent changes and this is usually an indicator that your lack of ankle mobility could be from the way your joint is structurally made or changes to the joint over time.
Those who do get improvements and it sticks, usually indicates that it was a muscular tightness holding them back. Once you loosen this off and work with the new range under load like running, walking or lifting, this can make the change permanent.
This is why it’s important to get assessed. We can deduce if it’s muscular, joint if it will change if it won’t change and even if it’s a problem at all. No two ankles are the same.
If you want more help with your walking, running, gym, Crossfit, F45 or any niggles you can’t get rid of please get in touch.
Feel free to email us or book in online at 1 of our 3 locations in Sydney;
iMove Physio Miranda: (https://imovephysio.com.au/miranda/)
iMove Physio Panania: (https://imovephysio.com.au/panania/)
iMove Physio Rozelle: (https://imovephysio.com.au/rozelle/)