Flex and point Do your an­kles ran­kle?

This month, po­di­a­trist Ni­cola Blower (walkrite.co.uk) out­lines the ben­e­fits of an­kle flex­i­bil­ity.

Runner's World (UK) - - Warm ups/ injury -

WHY DO IT? If you lack an­kle flex­i­bil­ity you may com­pen­sate by rolling your foot in or out more, or lift­ing the heel off the ground ear­lier, says Blower. This can lead to pain in the an­kle and foot, and overuse or de­ac­ti­va­tion of the per­oneal ten­dons (which run be­hind the outer an­kle bone) and the tib­ialis pos­te­rior (which runs down the leg and un­der the foot), as well as the Achilles.

THE TEST Sit on the floor, legs straight. Test­ing one leg at a time, keep your knee straight and dor­si­flex the an­kle (draw foot to­wards shin) as far as you can (a). Get a friend to hold your foot while you bend your knee slightly (b). Will the an­kle bend fur­ther with a lit­tle pres­sure?

WHAT TO LOOK FOR 1 When the knee is straight, your an­kle should bend to 100 de­grees. If you have to bend the knee, you have tight up­per calf (gas­troc­ne­mius) mus­cles. 2 If you can’t reach 100 de­grees even with the knee bent, you have tight soleus (lower calf) mus­cles. 3 If dor­si­flex­ing with the knee bent causes pain at the front of the an­kle, you may have a bony im­pinge­ment at the an­kle joint.

HOW TO IM­PROVE For tight­ness of the gas­troc­ne­mius, do calf stretches with straight knees. Hold for 30 secs and re­peat 3-5 times per side. To im­prove soleus flex­i­bil­ity, calf-stretch, but keep the knee bent to about 40 de­grees, heel down. Reps and sets as above. You can’t stretch a bony im­pinge­ment, but Blower ad­vises opt­ing for run­ning shoes with more of a heel raise.

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