3 Ankle-Mobility Exercises

Three drills to loosen up your ankles and their kinetic chain.

Calf smash for ankle mobility

Shin splints, heel pain, bad back, tight hips, knee weakness — these common complaints may share a similar but underappreciated source: immobile ankles.

When the ankle joint can flex and extend optimally, you can tap into the power of your entire lower body — legs, hips, and glutes — says Kelly Starrett, DPT, author of Ready to Run and cofounder of the popular website MobilityWOD.com.

Conversely, when your ankles are tight, it can feel as though your entire lower body is locked up. Your legs may have the strength to squat 200 pounds, the power to sprint up a flight of stairs, or the ability to enjoy a brisk walk or easy jog. But without adequate ankle health, you may find these activities nearly impossible because of pain in the heels, Achilles tendons, calves, shins, knees, hips, or lower back.

Starrett recommends these drills, which focus on the connective tissues of the lower body. Try them after your walking workout (see “How to Do a 30-Minute Walking Workout”) or any time your lower limbs feel tight.

RKC, MFT-1, is an Experience Life senior editor.

Photo by: Kelly Loverud; Styling: Pam Brand; Fitness Model: Melissa Story

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