How A Foot or Ankle Injury Can Get Way Worse, Quick
The feet and ankles are often overlooked areas, but they are much more important than most people realize. They provide a solid foundation for your body, and ultimately everything that occurs at the foot and ankle will be carried up the body’s kinetic chain. A foot or ankle injury or mobility restriction may affect the knee, the hip, the lower back, and eventually the shoulders and neck. If there is an issue at the ankle in the transverse, sagittal or frontal plane, it will cause a chain reaction that will ripple throughout the entire body.
Why It Can Happen
Often, restricted ankle joint mobility is caused by a slight injury somewhere in the lower extremity that causes a change in movement patterns. An individual will instinctively limit their mobility in an effort to prevent or subdue pain sensations. As the lack of motion carries up the kinetic chain, it will ripple up and eventually cause a problem somewhere. For example, with a lack of dorsiflexion mobility (flexing the ankle so the foot moves anteriorly in the sagittal plane), we will commonly use an “out-toeing” technique to open up the ankle and enable walking. Out-toeing may also cause hip internal rotation deficiency or vice versa.
Another common example is individuals with poor ankle mobility or an ankle injury who start to push through the toe instead of the heel. This movement negatively affects knee function. Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Eric Cressey, who is a highly sought-after coach for injured athletes and accomplished author says, “Research has shown that a lack of ankle mobility can increase rotational torque at the knee. If you lock up a joint that should be mobile (i.e. the ankle), the body will look elsewhere to create range of motion.”
How To Prevent It
Initial personal training assessments should always include an ankle mobility evaluation. “For just about everything in life, from sprinting, to lunging, to squatting, we need a certain amount of dorsiflexion. If we don’t have it, we have to compensate,” says Cressey. Clearly, it is imperative to work on ankle mobility to prevent any future injuries.
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