Often when we think about our flexibility or the lack thereof, we think of tight, sore backs, inflexible spines, stiff knees, achy hips and shoulder woes. So, our stretching focus turns to those areas, completely ignoring one of the most important joints and its supporting ligaments in the kinetic chain, the ankle.
Without getting too technical; the ankle is actually a hinge made up of three bones plus attached muscles and ligaments. The ankle hinge allows your foot to move up-and-down as well as side-to-side. When your ankle is stiff or immobile and feels tight, your walking is affected. Moreover, the lack of movement in your ankle complex starts a negative kinetic chain reaction right up through the legs, knees, hips and spine.
To see for yourself how important ankle flexibility is, try this experiment from stretching and strength expert, Miranda Esmonde-White. Tighten up your ankles (allow no normal up-down or side-to-side movement) and try walking while keeping your ankles tightened up. Not only do you shuffle along like an ancient, you will begin to feel that negative kinetic chain reaction response in your legs, knees, hips and back.
It sure demonstrates the connection of that hinge between your lower leg and foot, doesn’t it?
Before you watch this foot and ankle mobility and strength video, remember you can modify any of the exercises and stretches to your ability. You may sit on a small stool or chair for many of the moves. Here is the link:
Go for the Gusto!