Ankle Mobility Drills with Toe Integration

For this week's instalment of "exercise of the week" we are bringing you a new ankle and toe mobility drill that we have started implementing into certain client's programs.

To do this exercise properly, a few key pre-requisites are:

  1. Be able to dissociate your ankle range of motion from your knee or hip. Since you can do this seated or standing, make sure that when your ankle flexes or extends, your shin, knee and hip are still, to ensure you're getting the benefits from the right joint.

  2. Secondly, make sure you have no pain in the area when you perform this exercise. While this can be a good exercise for plantar fasciitis, achilles pain, foot neuromas, and the like, pushing through pain isn't always recommended. See us or your doctor for more guidance.

  3. Be able to associate the toes the OPPOSITE way that are used to engaging. Usually, when someone's ankle dorsiflexes, the toes want to extend, and when they plantarflex, the toes want to flex. This drill is to change the associations the toes are making, as we believe this will transfer back to good gait, and foot control.

Using gait as an example, when you are about to strike the ground, your ankle is slightly more plantarflexed. If you curled your toes into flexion when you were about to land, you would likely stub your toes more easily. Similarly, when you're in mid stance phase of gait, and the ankle is more dorsiflexed as it absorbs the forces of the ground, if your toes were extended, and pointed up to the sky, you would be stretching the arch, and exposing the metatarsal heads to a lot more impact. To us, it makes more sense to have your foot engage as you absorb the ground, think "Short foot" or "Engaging into the ground" so that the metatarsal heads are more lifted, and so that the arch is being used as a spring.

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