Dorsiflexion is defined as a backward flexion or bending of the hand or foot. Dorsiflexion of the foot, also referred to as ankle dorsiflexion, implies flexing the ankle joint in a manner that the underside of foot rotates upwards. Basically, it involves bringing the top part of your foot (dorsum) up toward your shin. Dorsiflexion is particularly useful for individuals who run, competitively or recreationally, and it plays a big role in your mobility. As you already know, the mobility is a significant factor of proper execution of exercises, avoiding injuries, and so on. So, how to improve ankle mobility? This article brings you seven exercises to improve your dorsiflexion.
1. 90-90 Neurodynamic Mobility
This particular stretch will hit the entire posterior kinetic chain from the plantar fascia to your lower back. Plus, the exercise also works all three aspects of hamstring tightness: muscle, fascia, and neural tension. Performing this maneuver is very easy, all you have to do is to lie on your back and grab the back of your thigh with both hands. Bear in mind that your thigh should be at the 90-degree angle throughout the exercise. Slowly use your quadriceps to kick the leg up while simultaneously flexing your foot toward you. When you reach your limit, pause for a second, relax your foot and drop the leg to the starting position. Do three sets of 10-15 reps.
2. Pistol Squat Ankle Mobilization
If you’re looking for a really aggressive ankle joint mobilization exercise, this is the one. It puts a great deal of force through the ankle joint in a bid to improve your range of motion. For this exercise, you’ll need a table or a box of knee-height. Stand still and put one leg on the box or table with your foot flat on the surface. Lean forward and grab the table or box with both hands while the other leg is stretched behind. Start leaning forward so that the knee of the leg that’s on the table is touching your chest and the knee of other leg is close to the edge of the table or the box.
3. Static Stretch With Contraction
Your body reacts to initial stretching by contracting the muscles around the joint reflexively in order to protect it. This exercise requires a two-minute-long stretch to make a change in tissues and improve your range of motion. First, you have to do the stretch by standing on the step with feet and then relaxing one heel towards the ground, wait for two minutes before you proceed with contractions. First one; without letting heel rise push ball of foot down into step and feel the contraction of stretched muscles, hold this position for 30 seconds. The second contraction requires pulling the top of the foot towards the front of the shin, once you feel a contraction, hold the position for 10 seconds.
4. Banded Ankle Joint Mobility
This maneuver requires an exercise band or strap secured around a stable object. Place the band behind your ankle making sure you feel some tension. Lunge forward bringing the knee directly over the foot, but ensure that your heel is firmly on the ground at all times. You can also use your hand to grasp and hold the heel in place. Another variation is to use the same exercise band on a table or box you use for pistol squat described above. Do 2 minutes of each variation.
5. Eccentric Heel Drops
Heel drop is often used to manage Achilles tendinopathy, but it is also useful for ankle dorsiflexion. You can do this exercise on the stairs, lift both feet so that you’re standing on your toes and slowly lower one heel to ground i.e. as low as you can go, pause at the bottom and lift back up with both legs. Do a few reps before repeating the process with other foot.
6. Foot Wave Dissociation
Foot wave dissociation helps improve the motor control of the ankle and develop intrinsic foot strength. To do this exercise, you should sit on the ground with your legs in front of you, then stretch one foot forward, curl your toes, draw the foot towards your bed making sure your leg is still firmly on the ground, release your toes, and repeat.
7. Seated Active Ankle Dorsiflexion
Not only will this exercise increase strength on the front side of the ankle, but it’s easy to do it even at work when sitting behind your desk. You can, do this exercise just about anywhere. Pull your heel down towards the ground and hold for 10-30 seconds and then release. Then, move your foot backward and repeat the same process.
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Ankle dorsiflexion is useful for all people who want to improve ankle’s mobility and range of motion. This prevents injuries and allows you to perform other exercises more effectively. This article showed you seven advanced exercises, feel free to consult your fitness trainer if you need more help regarding execution.