Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Maintaining an appropriate amount of dorsiflexion in your ankle has become a hot topic in the fitness and strength and conditioning communities. For those that are unaware of what dorsiflexion is, it is when the ankle and foot move upward, as if you are pulling your foot towards your face. Historically a lack of dorsiflexion has been caused by tight a Achilles tendon and/or pes anserine muscle group (gastrocnemius, soleus, plantaris).
Why do these structures become tight? Well there a multitude of reasons: overuse of gastrocnemius/soleus muscles, wearing heels or improper footwear, and poor posture are a few examples. Our automated prescription for this tightness has been to STRETCH. Of course it makes sense that the best thing to do is stretch a muscle that feels tight, right? Well...not always. Maybe we cannot access our full dorsiflexion range of motion because we do not have the strength or neurological coordination to do so. Instead of stretching out your calves for ten minutes, a better solution may be to train your tibialis anterior, the muscle primarily responsible for dorsiflexion.
Typically setting up a resistance band to create resistance when concentrically dorsiflexing the ankle is easy and effective. You can make time to do 3-5 sets of these. Heck, even superset your calf raises and dorsiflexions in your next lower body workout. Actively recruiting your tibialis anterior will make it STRONGER, and allow you to control your dorsiflexion range of motion. Static stretching may be needed, but it is still not a cure-all for regaining that lost dorsiflexion.
Check out this quick video of how I set up my resistance band for training dorsiflexion:
Thank you for reading,