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The Ankle Part 2: The Importance Of Dorsiflexion

18 Jun 2015
Andrew Wynd
In part one we discussed the very common sporting injury of the ankle sprain and the need to restore proprioception to avoid potential chronic problems. In this article we will cover perhaps the most important movement in the ankle, and some might argue one of the most important movements in the entire body: dorsiflexion.

Dorsiflexion refers to pulling and foot upwards, or if standing, the movement of the tibia over the talus. Like squatting or lunging. Following an ankle sprain, many patients lose ankle dorsiflexion (Terada et al., 2013) and this can be a risk factor for yet another ankle sprain.

Reduced ankle dorsiflexion is also a risk factor for a myriad of other injuries. These include:

  • Plantar fasciitis (Riddle et al., 2003)
  • Patellar tendon injury (Malliaris, Cook & Kent, 2006)
  • ACL injury (Fong et al., 2011)
  • Patello-femoral pain syndrome (Halabchi, Mazaheri & Seif-Barghi, 2013)

The relevant literature confirms what makes good clinical sense, this being that an interruption to any link in a chain affects areas above and below. Sporting movements like running, jumping, landing and changing direction all require the legs to flex and bend, especially at the ankle. Restriction to the ankle clearly alters the forces throughout the body and may lead other injuries.

Restoring normal ankle dorsiflexion following an ankle sprain can be achieved in a number of ways. Firstly, the cause of the restriction must be determined. Seeing an experienced musculoskeletal therapist can assist in establishing whether there is soft tissue restriction or joint limitation. Soft tissue stretching or release work will address the former, while joint manipulation and mobilisations will address the latter.

Try the following exercises.

Calf stretch

Mobilisation with movement

Self massage calf

Premax Self Massage Video (Click here to view)

Perform these drills each day, restore your ankle dorsiflexion and save your ankle, and quite possibly many other parts of your body.

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