Healthy Ankles Can Lead to a Healthier You!
The ankle is the last joint connecting your entire body to your foot. And the foot is the final link between the forces your body exerts and the ground it attempts to exert those forces upon. If the ankle is injured, has poor range of motion, pronates (caves in), supinates (caves out), or won't dorsiflex (move forward), then oftentimes the result of said forces is not a desired one. Hence, the rest of the body will compensate, often causing injury. For instance, in a squatting movement if the ankle does not move forward (dorsiflex), then more stress will be placed on the hips to create range of motion. If the hips are also tight, however, then the back will tend to curve and round as the lifter lowers his/himself into a squatting motion to achieve range of motion. Now the more stress is on the back instead of where it should be - the legs. In this situation, the potential for injury is in the back but the problem stems from the ankle.
Poor ankle dorsiflexion is an epidemic in both athletes and adults these days. The advent of high top shoes with raised heels - Nike Shocks, for example - is largely to blame. In fact, I've probably seen more ankles sprained in Nike Shocks than in any other footwear in the past five years! Taping ankles and wearing ankle braces habitually to treat or prevent ankle sprains are also contributing factors. Though these tactics may make your ankle "feel" more secure, the ankle is a joint that must have a lot of range of motion to function correctly!
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do about your ankle dorsiflexion such as calf stretching, wearing free or barefoot training shoes, wall mobility movements, and band exercises but after years of neglect, improvements do not happen overnight... or do they?
There is an easier way to get quick results - it's called the Strasburg Night Sock, pictured here. Often used to treat plantar fasciitis, it is a great and easy tool to help increase ankle dorsiflexion while you sleep and loosen up the tissue in your Achilles and calf muscles. Wear it while you sleep for 8-10 hours every night. It may take little getting used to, but a few nights a week will go a long way!
The benefits to increased dorsiflexion are better squats and lunges. Less stress on your knees, hips, and back. Gain a lower, more athletic playing stance with less effort. Avoid plantar fasciitis, heel pain, and other lower foot problems.
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