Ankle mobility and its significance in injury prevention
Let it be walking, running, jumping or landing, ankle is the first major joint, from where the forces are transferred up in the body. So it makes the ankle joint a lot more important than what people think of it. Ankle joint is often overlooked while dealing with conditions occurring at knee joint, hip joint or lower back. Primarily ankle joint movements include dorsiflexion (toes coming closer to shin) and plantar flexion (tip toeing) (Fig 1 & 2). Limited dorsiflexion at ankle joint affects shock absorption and many functional movements such as squats and going downstairs.
Every time our foot lands on the ground while walking, running or landing, there is ‘Ground Reaction Force’ produced. To keep the forces acting on the body within limits, it is important for the body’s musculature to absorb the forces. Under impact activities every joint involved should work in their optimal range. If any joint’s range of motion is affected, it will increase stress on the other joints. This will also influence the muscle function and shock absorption around the affected joint.This is why ankle mobility is important to prevent injuries at foot, knee, hip and Lower back.
A simple example to better understand it is to do a small jump, landing with stiff joints and another landing while bending at different joints. Landing with stiff joints will feel heavier and impart high forces on the joints. On the other hand, same landing done while allowing ankle knee and hip joints to bend, will feel much lighter. A good range of motion in joints allows the muscle to stretch more and absorb the forces optimally. Therefore limited/restricted joint range at ankle joint will increase the share of Ground reaction force more on knee and hip joint. In addition, a stiff ankle not only lacks in absorbing shock but it also reduces your overall agility and control.
Factors leading to reduce ankle mobility – Click here