Ankle Dorsiflexion – Everything You Need To Know

Introduction To Ankle Dorsiflexion


 

Ankle dorsiflexion is very important for many daily activities. When the ankle isn’t moving optimally knee, foot, hip, and back pain become a common place for patients.

A few weeks back I wrote about how simple the foot is to treat. In that post, I disclosed 5 key joints that you need to assess and treat.

If you haven’t read it, you can read it by Clicking Here.

Last week I also wrote another post describing the importance of the subtalar joint. Did you read that one, too? Click Here to read it.

In this post, I’m going to build upon that content and now discuss the ankle joint. I’m going to describe the anatomy, assessments, and finally hands-on and exercise strategies that you can apply to increase ankle mobility, particularly ankle dorsiflexion.

Anatomy Of The Ankle


Ankle Anatomy

The ankle joint is a tri-planar joint. This motion is called pronation and supination. Although it goes through all three planes, the motion in the frontal and transverse plane is minimal and hard to measure clinically. For these reasons, ankle dorsiflexion and plantar flexion are the primary motions that will be assessed and treated. For more information be sure to watch the video below.

 

 

 

 

Assessing Ankle Dorsiflexion


 

Assessing the ankle joint can be cumbersome if you don’t know how the foot complex compensates. For instance, when the ankle is lacking motion usually it is when the STJ is going through supination. This is because the midtarsal joint can’t compensate and dorsiflex because the STJ in inverting.

Conversely, when the STJ is everted, the midtarsal joint is unlocked. The midtarsal joint can dorsiflex as a compensation.

So what do you need to when assessing the ankle joint? One, assess it with the STJ everted. Two, assess with the STJ inverted.

Here are two videos of each:

 

 

Not only do you need to assess the mobility on the table, but also functionally. It has been my experience even though you may have mobility on the table it doesn’t necessarily translate to function. Here are a few that I use daily:

 

 

Although the joint is moving optimally, motion can still be limited or appear to be limited. This can be myofascial in nature. For instance, the gastroc or soleus can restrict motion. This is common

If you remember back to your assessments of this via Florence Kendall it went something like this:

 

 

Ankle Dorsiflexion Treatment Strategies


Here is a nice Mulligan technique that you can apply with your patients:

I use this technique daily with my patients. It’s great because you don’t tear up your thumbs gliding the talus posteriorly . You can glide the fibula and tibia over the talus rather easily, too.

You can also do it like this when your patients lack the motion at the TS rather than the loading response of gait. I like this one because it keeps the hip involved and it biases the mobilization when the STJ is inverting.

 

 

 

 

Concluding Thoughts On Ankle Dorsiflexion


 

Ankle dorsiflexion is important to assess in all of your patients. Whether they are coming for hip, knee, back, or foot pain be sure to assess it. It’s importance is profound.

If you apply these simple assessments and treatments you can increase motion at this joint rather quickly.

How are you assessing and treating ankle mobility?

Leave a response down below so others can learn how you’re doing it.

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