Your ankles play an important role in your movement and foot function. Stiffness at the ankle joint impacts the way you walk, run, and squat. Tight calves and wearing shoes with a raised heel are common reasons for stiff ankles.
To test your ankle range of motion get into a half kneeling position. Put your front foot 4 to 5 inches away from the wall (about the width of your hand). Keeping your foot flat on the ground and drive your knee forward. If your knee can not touch the wall without your heel coming off the ground – you’re missing ankle range of motion.
Tight ankles will require a more forward torso lean to squat to depth. This will make variations like front squats challenging because it is difficult to stay upright. Improving your ankle range of motion will promote better squatting and single leg patterns.
When you run you should first contact the ground with the ball of your foot, then your heel should “kiss” the ground (touch it quickly). Limited ankle range will cause you to stay on your toes placing added stress on your calf muscles. Our feet and ankles are designed to absorb the shock and impact while we run. Poor ankle function will strain other parts of our leg which could lead to injury.
Missing range of motion in our ankles will cause other areas to compensate – leading to compromised positions. Working on your ankle range of motion will improve your running and squatting mechanics.