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.
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’s often not addressing the underlying issues with your ankle.
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 more of a 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 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, just 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 need first to 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.
Give it a shot, and let us know what you think. It’s a bit nuanced, so we generally push people to come into the gym so we can coach them through it.
Not getting the results you want? GET ASSESSED.
If you’re new to exercising, have joint pain, or want to learn more about your ankles, 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 down 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 we see you lack ankle dorsiflexion, we can tell you why and show you exactly how to improve it.
In the meantime, we hope you learned a little more about your body—more videos and articles to come.
Brian Murray, FRSC, FRA
Founder of Motive Training