If you are an Olympic weightlifter or CrossFit athlete you know how important ankle mobility is for your performance. When your ankles move well, you can easily hit great positions in your cleans and snatches, and your squat depth will often be limited. When they’re locked up, your anatomy fights against you, robbing you of reps on the bar and adding time to the clock. So, here are my five favorite ankle mobility movements to get you moving better fast!
Need a done-for-you ankle mobility plan to improve your range of motion & lifts? Check out our ANKLE MOBILITY OVERHAUL.
DO YOU NEED TO IMPROVE YOUR ANKLE DORSIFLEXION?
Before hammering away at your ankle mobility range of motion, let’s test if this is something you need to work on. Because far too often athletes spend time working on mobility work in the wrong area.
We test ankle mobility by placing your big toe one hand-width away from a wall. While in half-kneeling position as shown below, see if you can touch your knee to the wall without your heel rising off the ground, foot rotating, or hip moving out to the side. If you pass this test, then no need to keep working on your ankles. If you fail, start working on the following exercises!
The following video demonstrates this technique. If you overhead squat, I’d encourage you to watch the entire video. If you don’t skip to the 1:52 mark to view the ankle mobility test.
Ankle Dorsiflexion Mobility Exercises
Eccentric Calf Raises
Eccentrics have been shown in research to help change the structural make up of muscles for improved flexibility and are very high on my list of ankle mobility musts. The athlete should start on a box on one leg with their knee straight, raised onto the ball of his or her feet. Then I have the athlete lower down into a deep stretch followed by unlocking the knee and pushing the knee forward. This results in both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles being eccentrically loaded. Then place the other foot down and return to upright.
The Functional Range Conditioning crew has some great mobility movements, and their PAILS / RAILS (Progression & Regressive Angular Isometric Loading) can rapidly improve dorsiflexion. Using these principles for improving the range of motion is a great one!
Goblet Squats with a Dorsiflexion Emphasis
Goblet squats are great for correcting many squat faults. And by performing them with a focus on pushing the knees forward to work on ankle dorsiflexion mobility can be a great way to help athletes squat with a more upright torso, which is helpful for front and overhead squats.
Banded ankle mobilizations are great for those that feel their ankle dorsiflexion mobility is limited more by a pinching or a block in the anterior ankle. But this exercise is often done with the band positioned incorrectly. See the video for the proper way!
Split Squats with a Forward Knee Emphasis
Loading your bodyweight through the ankle with mobility work is important as your Achilles tendon is very stiff. This stiffness requires heavy loading to get range of motion improvements. This split squat variation is great for ankle flexibility.
Lateral Tibial Glide
I’ve written about lateral tibial glide in the past, as it is a great way to make RAPID changes in ankle mobility when this movement is restricted. If you’ve been trying to improve your ankle mobility for a while and not making progress, then test this NOW!
Need some serious ankle mobility help?
Check out our ANKLE MOBILITY OVERHAUL PLAN.