Is your ankle mobility limiting your running performance?
Limited foot and ankle mobility are commonly overlooked as a cause of various running injuries. Poor ankle mobility can be the cause of injuries that extend far beyond the foot and ankle. It can also limit your speed. Your foot has many bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments which are all important for shock absorption when you run. Limited mobility will limit your foot and ankle’s ability to absorb shock. This leads to additional forces transmitted up the rest of your body including your knees, hips, and back. It is important with any running injury to assess ankle mobility. Your pain may be in your knee or hip, but the cause of your pain may be your limited ankle mobility.
Limited ankle mobility can be due to tight calf muscles and/or joint stiffness. Ankle joint stiffness is very common after an ankle sprain. A common pattern is a runner will have had an ankle sprain years ago. The ankle pain resolves, but there is limited ankle joint mobility that often isn’t addressed. Eventually, the limited joint mobility can contribute to numerous injuries to the foot, ankle, knee hip, and back. Frequently, these are categorized as “overuse” injuries when they could be easily prevented.
It is also important to maintain foot and ankle mobility as we age. Regardless of whether or not you have ever had an ankle injury, your muscles and joints stiffen as you get older. You may have been able to get away with not working on your mobility when you were younger. However, if you want to continue running strong and pain free for years to come you need to maintain good foot and ankle mobility. Check out the video below to learn more!
Dr. Terry Gebhardt is a physical therapist and Certified Pose Running Technique Specialist