PT Thought of the Week: Ankles

My mind is always focusing in on how to get rid of those those nagging aches and pains that come through my PT doors… and ankles seem to be a theme lately from Sanitas members and non-members alike. I hear about a lot of effort spent on strengthening and stretching, but not always an effort to mobilize the structures around the ankle and foot to get tension off the aggravated structures. So I thought I’d share a couple quick tricks to help ensure ankles around the gym are moving happily through WODs and the rest of life (literally).

TEST: Is your ankle functionally mobile? It’s important to measure the movement pattern you need, in the way you actually need it. My favorite test to determine ankle dorsiflexion symmetry (amount of bend) is the Knee to Wall Lunge Test. If your ankle can’t bend during a squat, then the movement and load is going to go somewhere- usually the knee, hip, or back.

See test HERE within Outside article. It’s also helpful to do this test in standing, similar to movement needed in squat or lunge.

FIX: Address the tissues with the issues as we say in physical therapy. Go after the soft tissue AND the joint restriction. If you’re trying to stretch your calf in the same position as the test and the test is limited, then you might need a different approach. Try dropping your heel over the edge of a step to stretch to allow glide in the joint as well. Hold at least 15 seconds or the tissues won’t let go. And don’t forget to stretch with knee straight (gastroc muscle focus) and knee bent (soleus muscle focused). The soleus muscle is a huge part of the Achilles tendon and needs attention as well. After you stretch, put that new motion to use- current research shows that the movement patterning through the range is the key to mobility.

Curious to learn more? Grab me around the gym and I’ll happily share more insight. Coach Dwight is also super well versed in the connections between ankle mobility and your squat, and can share his experience as well.

Dr. Nicole Haas, PT, DPT, OCS is a strong advocate of community outreach and education, and lends her voice and expertise locally and nationally across the wellness and medical community. She is a board certified orthopedic clinical specialist with a doctorate in physical therapy who has been practicing more than 20 years, and is a certified yoga teacher as well. She is dedicated to helping the community understand the tipping point between health and injury, and to promoting understanding of the biomechanics of movement patterns that allow the body to participate in a balanced life. She uses a blend of evidence-based medicine, manual therapy, functional training and exercise to help each individual she works with maintain a healthy and pain-free lifestyle. Read more HERE about Dr. Haas and how she supports the CrossFit Sanitas members and the Boulder community

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