Foot/Ankle Mobility Tips

The muscles that provide gross movement of the ankles and feet originate from the leg. As a result, how “tight” they are could influence the biomechanics of the feet and vice versa. That’s right... our gait pattern, the morphology (shape) and the circumstances we place our feet in (ladies - heels) has a great effect on our leg muscles and how they adapt in and out of movement. 

I’m not really a barefoot advocate. However, I hope in highlighting the above relationship I can spread some awareness as to why for example your calves are always tight or why the sole of your foot hurts or why you keep getting shin splints. 

A number of these muscles are under activated or spend a very long time in a contracted or shortened state. Therefore, when we need to utilise them, ‘they aren’t really prepared’. This leads to poor adaptation and malfucntion, resulting in aches/pains and sometimes injury. There are a number of reasons for this and it explains why our feet might not be right for a sport or sporting environment. 

I am not saying that a flat foot, high arches or tight leg muscles WILL cause pain, but I am not saying they can’t. All this will be based on how versatile or adaptable and resilient these structures are to the movement you require of them. Some individuals adapt perfectly, while others don’t. As a result, my training and advice to patients is to always to do enough to keep muscles and joints prepped - functional and dynamic. 

The videos below show very gentle mobility drills which provide a steady pace and rhythm through the leg and ankle which stretches the muscles both at the front and the back of the leg. The slow rhythm  introduces a dynamic flow throughout the foot and also allows for a flossing motion to occur at fascial junctions which if done too quickly or harshly could irritate/inflame these areas. This particularly happens if the muscles are very tight, reducing the space and increasing the ‘traffic’ through these regions. Hence nice and slowly - rocking the baby to sleep. 

These can be done on your own in conjunction with foam/ball rolling, static stretching, self massage and other mobility drills/exercises.  Or in clinic with myself where fascial release blading, joint manipulation and mobilisation, as well as medical acupuncture may be used. 

Image Showing some of the bones, muscles, tendons and  ligaments in the foot and their very close relationship to each other.   An example of the fascial junctions mentioned above are coloured in green an the muscles and tendons running beneath it are coloured in yellow. 

Image Showing some of the bones, muscles, tendons and  ligaments in the foot and their very close relationship to each other. 

An example of the fascial junctions mentioned above are coloured in green an the muscles and tendons running beneath it are coloured in yellow.