If the ankle has a poor ability to maintain a neutral position it may lead to a collapsing of the arch A.K.A Flat Feet. When you lose the ability to maintain an arch you also fail to distribute force properly across your feet, inevitably creating a loss of force production.
This loss in efficiency, other than hindering you from finally throwing down a dunk, can also increase the chances for injury upon landing.
When there is a structural change in the ankles there is a ripple effect on the adjacent limbs. This is called the kinetic chain. As the foot rolls inward it internally rotates the leg collapsing the knee inward and tilting the pelvis.
This position has low structural integrity and when placed under external load, as with a barbell squat or during landing, can cause an issue at any of the previously mentioned joints.
How do you fix this?
WORK ON SINGLE LEG BALANCE!
When thinking about the kinetic chain one must think of it as a whole. This is why multisegmental coordination is key when it comes to balance. In this case, isolating individual muscles will not elicit the same results.
Shout out to Joel Seedman for this great exercise to work on balance.
Notice in this close-up how I struggle to keep control of my arch while passing the weight.
The weight pass, as we respectfully named it, is designed to work on single leg stability while shifting the load from one side of your body to the other. When the weight is on the side of the stance leg, it will engage the muscles that pronate the foot and when it is on the opposite side you are training the muscles that supinate the foot. The key element here is the shifting of weight and the ankle's adjustment to this dynamic external load which increases ankle stability.
When training unilaterally (on one leg) you automatically engage the core by working against trunk rotation and flexion, working the muscles that control the pelvis consequently improving spinal alignment.
Because the knee is mostly influenced by what's happening in the joints above and below it, improving ankle and hip control will help prevent the onset of knee pain as well.
Single leg stability is essential for proper ankle control. Think about it. When you run you are never on both feet at the same time. So if you go for a run every morning add single leg stability exercises to the mix and reap the benefits!