Improving Ankle Flexibility

By: Coach Sammie

Raise of hands on who has tight ankles? I can’t see you but I’m assuming there are a few of you reading this that would raise your hands. Tight ankles are the worst aren’t they? And I bet some of you (just like me) didn’t even know you had tight ankles until you walked through CFR’s doors. I found out during my first day of on-ramp, I attempted my first squat and immediately my feet flared out like penguin. This was before the Physical/Mobility Assessments, so most of you probably found out if you had tight ankles during that ankle test. Lack of proper flexion in the ankle can cause a multitude of problems running up the body and can dramatically affect movements (like the oh so important squat). Even worse is that if one ankle is tighter than another, it can lead to compensation, rotation of the hips/spine, and lead to injury.

So what do we do? Most of us want a quick fix, something I can do once and the problem is solved. Press a button and WALLAH! perfect flexible ankles. Wouldn’t that be nice. But sorry, that’s quite the way it works. Our ankles did not become tight over night and thus they are unlikely to be fixed overnight. It’s tough to hear but it will take some time, just like anything that is worth it, you  have to work for it. Be consistent and persistent. The good part is that it only takes a few minutes every day of stretching/mobilizing and a little bit of focus on proper movement while you exercise and move throughout the day. 

Dedicate 5 minutes before class to stretching/mobilizing the ankles. This a great opportunity to ask your coach for suggestions if you don’t know of any yourself. Believe me we have tons of options for you :).  I suggest this because I have done it, and I have seen my ankle flexibility (and thus my squat) change dramatically over the past 5 years. I have a deeper range of motion in my squat, I am able to keep my feet flat and more straight while tracking my knees out, the pressure on my knees through out my squat has decreased significantly. My jumping and landing movements and positions are stronger and more stable. Did I notice changes overnight? No. But gradually overtime, I began to notice subtle changes and my movements keep getting better. You have to make proper movement a priority, This will created an appreciation for how your body moves. It will increase your body awareness which will lead to other corrections in movement. It will not only increase your ankle flexibility, it will improve your squat performance, and possibly decrease pain in your knees/hips/and back. That’s A LOT of good things resulting from just 5 minutes and a little focus on a daily basis.

If you are someone who has tight ankles, I urge you to dedicate 5 minutes every day to showing those ankles some love. Make it part of your warm up routine. Not just for now, or for the next few weeks. Stay consistent and persistent and change will come. 

Need a suggestion for some ankle mobilization before your next workout? Check out my favorite mobility mastermind, the Supple Leopard himself, Mr. Kelly Starrett: