Cutting through the jargon
If you or someone you love is suffering from poor ankle mobility then you’ll understand how much it can impact quality of life. By restricting your range of movement and limiting your activities, stiff ankles and poor mobility can even negatively affect your health, especially in the long term.
That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to start improving ankle mobility today and we’re here to help. In this article we’re going to show you how to improve ankle mobility and ankle dorsiflexion in five different ways to help get you moving better than ever before.
Let’s start by cutting through the jargon.
What is ankle mobility?
Ankle mobility refers to the ranges of motion or flexibility you have in your ankle joint and is directly affected by the surrounding muscles and tendons. Increasing ankle mobility and strength will not only help you walk properly, but also improve balance and boost your sports performance.
What is ankle dorsiflexion?
Ankle dorsiflexion occurs when you flex your toes upward, lifting the front portion of your foot (plantarflexion is the opposite, downwards flex). If you have poor ankle mobility, improving ankle dorsiflexion is especially vital for activities such as walking, running, and squatting.
Testing for ankle mobility: Do you have limited ankle mobility?
According to research, the normal range of motion is between 10 and 20 degrees for dorsiflexion and between 40 and 55 degrees for plantarflexion. If you can’t flex your foot up or down to these angles then your ankle mobility may be limited, but by following the five steps below, you can improve your mobility, flexibility, balance, and performance.
Pain during joint dorsiflexion or plantarflexion is also a good indicator that your ankle mobility is restricted, but the root cause of this pain may not necessarily be in your ankle, so I’d recommend seeking medical advice to find out the cause.
How to increase ankle mobility in 5 different ways
The five things you can do to improve ankle mobility are; drink more water, improve your diet, do some ankle stretches, perform some ankle exercises, and take CBD. Let’s see how each one can help.
1. Drink more water
Approximately 76% of your muscles contain water and if you’re not drinking enough water then your muscles can become dehydrated, meaning they aren’t able to function properly. Dehydrated muscles will decrease your range of motion, leading to clumsiness and severe cramping. You may also notice you’re more tired than usual and you are having trouble recovering from workouts.
Water is the key to muscle elasticity and staying properly hydrated will help to keep your ankle joints lubricated and your energy levels high.
2. Improve your diet
You may be surprised to learn that your diet greatly affects your mobility in general, so improving your diet can also increase ankle mobility.
Your brain and body needs nutrients to repair and replace tissue, power muscle, and build bone. A healthy diet will also help limit your body’s inflammatory response, which helps your body absorb nutrients more efficiently.
Some of the ways you can improve your diet include avoiding processed foods (or choosing minimally processed options), increasing your intake of plant-based foods (eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), and keeping your calorie intake and physical activity level in balance.
Introduce foods that are high in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties such as; berries, nuts, oily fish, orange vegetables, leafy greens, and onions.
3. Ankle mobility stretches
Stretching is incredibly helpful in improving ankle stiffness, helping to widen your plane of motion, as well as boost your sports performance. My favorite ankle dorsiflexion stretches are the calf raise and wall lean, and you can also increase flexibility by holding deep squats, whether they be regular or side squats. A deeper squat will offer a deeper stretch.
|STRETCH||HOLD FOR||HOW TO DO THE STRETCH|
|Calf raise||10 seconds||Use a chair or a wall for balance. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and lift your heels off the floor, so that you’re lifting your weight onto the balls of your feet|
|Wall lean||10 seconds||Place your palms on a wall at around shoulder height and plant your feet under your hips. Slowly bend your elbows, leaning forward as far you can|
4. Ankle mobility exercises
By performing these five ankle mobility exercises every days, you’ll not only be increasing ankle dorsiflexion, but also overall flexibility and strength. If you’re experiencing pain and/or are in recovery, then don’t be discouraged if you can’t do the exercise. A static lunge is actually quite a bit harder than it sounds(!) and simply trying goes a long way in helping.
Many of these exercises can be completed while you’re accomplishing other tasks. For example, when you’re waiting in line at the supermarket, in an elevator, washing up dishes, or cooking, so you don’t really have any excuse for not completing them every single day. Perhaps you can even practice them more than once during your day?
|EXERCISE||REPS||HOW TO DO ONE REP||MODIFICATIONS|
|TOO DIFFICULT||TOO EASY|
|Single leg balance||2||Raise your arms up in line with your shoulders and lift one knee to practice balancing on the opposite foot for 30 seconds. Switch legs and balance on the other foot for 30 seconds||Make sure you can reach the back of a chair or a wall for help balancing||Lift your knee up higher and/or increase reps|
|Calf raise||10||Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and lift your heels off the floor, so that you’re lifting your weight onto the balls of your feet, before slowly lowering||Use a wall or chair for help with balancing and decrease reps||Lift and lower more slowly and/or hold the position for a couple of seconds when you’re in the lifted position|
|Heel-toe walk||5||Lift up the balls of your feet so that you’re balancing on your heels and take ten steps forward, before turning and then walking back ten steps on tip-toes||Reduce the number of steps to five or, if this is still too difficult, rock back and forward from heel to ball instead, using a chair or wall for balance||Increase steps and/or reps|
|Static lunge||5||Take a long stride forward and drop your back knee towards the ground until both knees are at a 90 degree angle. Return to standing and then repeat with the other leg||If lunges are too difficult, try standing up from a half-kneeling position instead||Add in three pulses into each lunge and/or increase reps|
|Side squats||5||Adopt a wide-legged stance and slowly lower into a squat over one leg, bending your knee over your ankle. Return your weight to center and then repeat the movement on the other side||Try again but with your feet a bit closer together||Add in three pulses into each lunge and/or increase reps|
5. Take CBD
Lack of dorsiflexion or mobility in general can be caused by many different factors including, training too hard, wearing high heels, a prior injury or operation, or arthritis. In each of these cases, the muscles surrounding and supporting your ankle can become inflamed.
Inflammation not only makes it difficult to improve your ankle flexibility, but it can also cause further injury and joint degradation. Therefore, reducing inflammation will prove to be a key factor in improving joint mobility.
CBD is well-known to be a powerful and natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, meaning it can be hugely beneficial during post-workout recovery. In fact, CBD use is extensive among athletes due to the positive impact it can have on overall sports performance.
CBD is also popularly used during post-operative recovery to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation and CBD and arthritis go hand-in-hand as it offers relief from pain, stiffness, as well as protection against further deterioration.
In a recent survey conducted by the Arthritis Foundation, 79% of respondents were currently using CBD, had used it in the past, or were considering using it. Of those using CBD:
- Approximately 3 out of 4 people said it was either effective or very effective in relieving symptoms
- 67% reported improvement in their physical function
- Over 30% say it provided relief from morning stiffness and helped get them moving
A massive 71% of people also reported improvements in their ability to sleep and over 30% say it helped relieve symptoms of fatigue, so CBD may improve your quality of life in more ways than one.
What CBD is best for ankle mobility?
Active Omega Turmeric Capsules
The market is flooded with CBD products right now but, because it’s unregulated, it does require a bit of research in order to find a decent product. This means not only choosing a product that actually has CBD in it, but also one that’s clean and safe to use. For mobility, specifically, I’d highly recommend these Active Capsules from Elixinol.
Each capsule delivers 15 mg of full-spectrum CBD extract and the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are further enhanced with 237 mg of curcumin (from turmeric), and 120 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Turmeric is another well-known antioxidant, helping to prevent inflammation, and DHA is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which fights inflammation to help relieve discomfort in joints.
All three inflammation-fighting ingredients are packaged in a vegetarian capsule with MCT coconut carrier oil to optimize absorption. Most importantly, all of Elixinol’s products are tested by third party labs to verify their potency and purity, so you can be sure that their products are clean, safe, and reliable.
Elixinol also has a CBD capsule with Boswelia in it, which is also fantastic for improving joint health. Plus, two topical products that can be applied directly to your ankle for soothing relief. I personally use the Active Sports Gel (also contains capsaicin and arnica) all the time.
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Improve ankle dorsiflexion, starting today
Now you know how to improve dorsiflexion, you just need a little patience and persistence. Following these five steps isn’t going to increase your ankle strength and flexibility overnight, but drinking more water, making positive changes to your diet, and taking a great CBD supplement, like Elixinol’s Active Capsules, will help support better joint health in the long-term, not to mention your overall well being.
The exercises and stretches that are recommended are quick and simple to perform, but consistency is key in achieving the best results.