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Posted by portugalpress on November 16, 2017

To better understand why ankle mobility is so important when performing a squat (or any movement where the feet are on the ground), especially when performing physical activity, we should learn more about dorsiflexion and how this movement is related to the ankle.

The ankle itself is a hinged joint, only capable of moving in a single (sagittal) direction, in two movements: plantar flexion and dorsiflexion. The plantar flexion or extension of the ankle is the movement of pointing the toes downwards (as a ballerina does when standing on tiptoe), dorsiflexion is the opposite movement, raising the toes while keeping the ankle in contact with the ground.

The reason why dorsiflexion is considered the most important movement is because it allows the tibia (the shin) to move forward in relation to the position of the foot. This is crucial for correct body posture and efficient application of force.

What factors are responsible for a decrease in dorsiflexion?

Lack of posterior flexibility, joint restraint, inadequate posture and lesions in the lower part of the body can cause a limited motion.

Due to excessive and inappropriate use of high heels, women substantially increase the risk of dorsiflexion mobility. Wearing high heels means that the foot is in a constant plantar flexion movement, causing a gradual loss of flexibility due to shortening of the muscles in the back of the leg.

How do I know that I have reduced ankle mobility?

Carry out the following tests right now!

Test 1: Perform various squatting movements in front of a mirror and if the heel of your foot lifts off the floor, it is a sign that you probably have a lack of ankle mobility.

Test 2: Another way to test your ankle mobility is to stand with your feet together and try to lift the front of your feet without letting the body move back.

How can physiotherapy improve my joint mobility?

Specific assessment tests such as FMS (Functional Movement Screen), Posture Assessment, GPR (Global Posture Reeducation), Joint Mobility Exercises and Dynamic Stretching Exercises will help to plan the best and most appropriate treatment for each individual.

The ankles are the base of our body and movement. If we ignore their importance, we are taking a step towards negative habits and unsafe biomechanical patterns that can influence their efficiency, reducing their work capacity and increasing the risk of injury.

By Ricardo Ferreira

Ricardo Ferreira is physiotherapist working at the Hospital Particular do Algarve and is a functional strength training specialist by the WellXProSchool