Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Do You Suffer From Stiff Ankles? Try "the Wiggles"

Ankle dorsiflexion (pointing your toes upward) is one of the most common limited motions. If you feel you have stiff ankles, you may think it’s from tight calf muscles or all those ankle sprains you have endured playing pick-up basketball.

Those things can absolutely cause inflexible ankles. However, oftentimes lack of ankle dorsiflexion is a result of faulty movement mechanics.

Observe the limited amount of ankle dorsiflexion (even with the gastroc on slack) displayed at the beginning of the video. Then check out one of the quick techniques we use at Soul PT to improve ankle range of motion. We call it "the Wiggles."

As the nervous system ultimately controls our movement, this lack of motion can be due to an overly sensitive nervous system. Consequently, our brain may perceive a threat in that particular motion, and as a result, restricted range of motion and pain may arise. This can alter the mechanics of the way we walk or run, and cause pain in the knees, hips, or back, as well as the ankle.

In order to decrease this undesirable perception to the nervous system, a novel, nonthreatening stimulus needs to be introduced. This will calm the nervous system down and allow range of motion to be restored temporarily. Ultimately, when range of motion is reestablished, we are given the opportunity to correct our movement in order to reduce pain in other areas of the body that may be associated.

To perform this technique, wrap the band lightly, so it will stay on but no cut off blood flow, just below the knee. Twist the band back and forth, taking up the slack of the tissues in both directions. This will help relax any tension in the muscles of the lower leg. Continue twisting the band for about 30 seconds, and then retest your ankle dorsiflexion!

We picked this technique up from Dr. Erson Religioso. His Edge Mobility Band is an affordable and versatile tool that can be used for more than just improve ankle range of motion. For more uses of the Edge Mobility Band, feel free to check out his website, www.

There are many different options for improving ankle dorsiflexion, but this technique is simple and effective. If you try this technique and you are still experiencing ankle pain or stiffness, come see us at Soul Physical Therapy.

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