The Ultimate Ankle Mobility Routine
Ever wonder why………..
Your heels always come up on a squat?
Your feet excessively turn out when you walk or run?
You develop that nasty bunion on the inside of your big toe?
Your knees are always cranky?
You’re constantly spraining your ankles?
These is all related to ankle mobility. Your feet and ankles are your foundation, everything starts from the ground up. Yet, no one ever wants to train their ankles because it’s not sexy and it’s super boring.
Well it’s time to address the most stubborn joint in the body and unlock your athletic potential by improving your ankle range of motion. Keep reading because I’m going to give you everything you need to improve your ankle mobility and get your ankle game on point!
ANKLE MOBILITY TEST
Before we get started it’s always a good idea to test and assess the joint you’re going to start training. Here's a quick ankle mobility test you can do in 4 simple steps:
Get in a half kneeling stance (think lunge with back knee on the ground) in front of a wall, with you front foot one inch away from the wall.
While keeping the heel of your front foot down, push your knee toward the wall and over your toes.
If you can touch the wall with your knee without your heel coming up, slide another inch away from the wall and retest.
Keep moving back until you can no longer touch the wall and record how many inches away from it you were when you could still touch your knee to it.
Perform for the other ankle.
If you could only do 1 inch away, you really need to start addressing your ankle mobility ASAP! As I mentioned earlier, so many problems are associated with poor ankle mobility.
If you were able to get 3-4 inches away, you’re probably cheating because you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you ankles were that good ;)
After a few months of using these ankle mobility exercises, retest both to see if you’re improving your ankle range of motion. However, ankle remodeling takes time, probably more time than any other joint in the body to make big changes.
ANKLE MOBILITY EXERCISES
Below I’ve given you everything you need to start attacking those ankles. You can perform this sequence up to 3 times per week, giving yourself a day in between. As with anything, the more frequently you do this, the better you will get at it. These are new movements and concepts, so there will be a bit of a learning curve. It just takes a little time.
First up is a simple ankle mobilization exercise. If the mechanics of your ankle are poor, meaning the ankle doesn’t glide in the joint the way it’s supposed to, no amount of stretching and movement will do you any good.
In the video below I go over how to get your ankle to start rotating and rolling. It’s super easy and you should start every ankle training session with this exercise. Begin with 10 reps of each movement one time per day.
Dorsi Flexion PAILs and RAILs
Next up, we have to start stretching the tight tissue located on the back side of the lower leg. We’re talking about the tissue from the bottom of the achilles, up through the soleus and gastrocnemius (the big calf muscles).
We utilize a system call PAILs and RAILs, which is a fancy way of saying we stretch the tissues, then we contract the tissues on both sides of the joint in the new range of motion, and then we sink deeper in to the original stretch. Don’t worry guys, it’s all in the video.
Just know you must sit in the stretch for 2 minutes in the beginning, and then 2 more minutes at the end. For the isometrics perform 2 rounds of 20 seconds for each. Over time you can progress by increasing the intensity of the isometrics, as well as the time.
Last up we want to hit “save” on all of our work by performing Ankle CARs, which stands for Controlled Articular Rotations.
Just know that this movement takes your ankle through all of the ranges of motion that it can produce. It’s like brushing your teeth for your ankle joint. Perform 5 reps for each ankle at the end of this sequence. Plus, you can do these multiple times throughout the day to keep giving your ankle more love. The more the merrier!
That’s it guys, you now have everything you need to start working on your ankle mobility. Once you get more familiar with these exercises, it will take you less than 10 minutes to do, so don’t skip them! And then in 2 months, retest your ankles and see what kind of improvements you’ve made.
MORE MOBILITY GOODNESS
For my favorite mobility exercises to bulletproof your body, click the link below where you can get my 3 must-have mobility moves for free. Once you try them, you’ll see why they’re my all-time favorite.
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)
Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor
Weck Method Qualified