Ankle mobility and ankle control are important for everyone as they allow us to walk, run or jump. To be able to perform any of these skills our ankle needs to be able to move in multiple directions. It can move forwards-backwards, side-to-side and around in circles. This allows us to move and also allows us to adapt to uneven surfaces whilst maintaining our balance. Mobility is important because if we are limited in one or multiple areas of our ankle it means that we may have to compensate in other areas of our body. This can lead to over loading causing pain or injury. However, you can also be too mobile within your ankle joint. Some people will have hyper mobility of the ankle joint through a medical condition, genetics or chronic ankle injuries. In this case, we need to improve greater control of the ankle joint to reduce pain and/or injury.
There are a few ways to know what your level of ankle mobility is like. A health professional can do a few different tests to assess how much range of movement you have within your joint and where it sits within limited/normal/high limits. Chronic calf or Achilles injuries can also be an indication or a sign of limited ankle mobility. Chronic ankle sprains and feeling like the ankle gives way or feels unsteady on uneven surfaces can be a sign of hyper mobility.
Ankle mobility exercises can be prescribed by your health professional such as resistance and plyometric exercises to increase mobility. Balance and proprioception exercises can be given to improve control. There are limitations in individual cases of how much improvement can be made to ankle mobility. For example, previous injuries, genetics, age and surgeries can be a factor. We can then utilise things such as specific footwear, orthotics or braces to overcome these limitations in conjunction with the exercises to keep you active.
Pro Podiatry SA, Ashley Howe, Podiatrist