Video: Tight Calves, Or A Lack Of Ankle Eversion?

April 14, 2022 | Functional Range Conditioning

Video: Tight Calves, Or A Lack Of Ankle Eversion?

Do you have tight calves? Do your ankles feel like blocks? Well, you’re not alone.

We often work with clients with beat-up ankles. They wake up with pain in the bottoms of their feet or struggle to push their knees over their toes without the ankle lifting off the ground.

They go to their doctors, who tell them to stretch like this.

A woman doing a calf stretch against a white wall

I’m sure you’ve seen people doing the same thing in the gym. But does it work?

No, you still have lead feet, and so do they.

Okay, fine. Sometimes, generically stretching your calves helps, but it often does not address the underlying issues with your ankle.

But why?

The ankle is not simply a hinge joint (like the elbow or knee), even though we often treat it as such. So, if you attempt to stretch the ankle in a more linear path (e.g., pushing your knees over your toes), you’re avoiding and missing an integral part of the ankle: rotation.

Unlock the ankle with better Ankle eversion.

For your knee to pass over your toes (dorsiflexion), the midfoot has to drop toward the floor. In other words, the arch of your foot slightly collapses as you drive your knees forward. You may have heard of this as ankle pronation, but it’s also called eversion.

Eversion is a rotational function of the ankle, like inversion (think of safely rolling your ankle). Without eversion, your ankle cannot efficiently dorsiflex—you cannot push your knees over your toes.

Thus, to get better ankle movement in dorsiflexion (where you often feel “tight”), you must first improve eversion.

This video shows you how to set up a better ankle eversion stretch, which we would eventually use for ankle eversion PAILs/RAILs.

Dorsiflexion Next.

Once you’ve unlocked ankle eversion, you can attack your ankle in a linear path by directly stretching the calf. Your options here are endless, but we generally stretch dorsiflexion in a bent-knee position. You can do this on the ground (as I do in the video) or on a box. Regardless, you should be able to get better dorsiflexion after the ankle eversion stretch.

Once you get better dorsiflexion, you’ll make better use of your calf and knee extensors (quads, baby!). That will translate into pretty much every lower body movement you do (e.g., running, jumping, squatting, etc.) So, don’t ignore your ankles, and don’t ignore mobilizing them, either.

I go into more detail about how ankle eversion impacts something like a deadlift on the elitefts website, so definitely check it out!

Better Ankles Equals Better Conventional Deadlifts

Not getting the results you want? GET ASSESSED.

If you’re new to exercising, have joint pain, or want to learn more about your ankle eversion, you should sign up for our Functional Range Assessment (FRA®). The FRA® is a diagnostic tool we use to assess how you move on a joint-by-joint basis. It allows us to understand how your body works, from your neck to your toes.

We use the findings from the FRA® to create movement baselines for your unique body to pinpoint where you need the most help. If you have joint issues, we’ll get to the root cause and give you actionable solutions to get you on a path toward success. For instance, if you lack ankle dorsiflexion, we can tell you why and how to improve it.

Don’t limit your potential. Sign up for personal training in Grand Rapids, MI, or Austin, TX, and we’ll show you a better way. We are located in Heartside Grand Rapids and the St. Elmo District in South Austin.

In the meantime, we hope you learned more about your body—more videos and articles to come.

Written by:

Motive Training StaffMotive Training Staff

Does stretching work? We don’t just believe so; we know so. Reach out to us using any of the contact forms on the Motive Training website, and we’ll take care of you.

We’ll teach you both how to move with purpose so you can lead a healthy, strong, and pain-free life, and we’re available online or in Grand Rapids, MI, and Austin, TX. We’re in the Heartside district of Grand Rapids, MI, and the St. Elmo district in South Austin, TX.

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