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  • Writer's pictureRetrain Health

5-minute ankle mobility

So, you have made a triumphant return to the squat rack!

Buuuuuuut, now you’re getting achy, breaky knees when you’re training…let’s take a look at your ankles and their movement, because sometimes the knees are just the poor sucker in the middle of ankles and hips, who aren’t being good neighbours.

1. First things first, let’s get a rough guide of where you’re at with a knee to wall test!

  • Take a half kneeling position with your front foot planted on the floor and your toes meeting the wall (as per photo above)

  • From this position drive your knee forward over your toes until your knee touches the wall

  • Inch your toes backward so your foot is slightly further away from the wall and repeat until your knee can no longer touch the wall – this is your limit on one side.

  • Repeat on the other side and assess side to side differences

  • There is no “normal” range, we’re all different bodies with different builds, BUT a general range of 10cm is a reasonable level of dorsiflexion

  • Try to keep the movement in your ankle – your knee and hip should not cave inward (this constitutes cheating to gain range of motion and we want to avoid this)

  • Ideally, we want your left ankle to have the same range as your right ankle!

  • Now that we’ve identified something to work on – let’s get to improving your range.

2. Got some stiffness in your calf? Get a foam roller into it! 30 seconds per side, find a tender point, stay on it, let it fade, find a new point etc. Pro tip: Use your free leg to increase the pressure on the calf you are rolling.

3. Next step, get some active range into your ankle NOW!

Take a half kneeling position like the picture above

  • Take a light kettlebell or plate and place it on top of your knee

  • Drive the knee with the kettlebell/plate on it forward, gently rocking into more range of motion each time to reinforce some of that new tissue range

  • Avoid pinching or painful range of motion – only go where your body allows you and increase range of motion where you are able

  • Again – try to have roughly equal range left to right in your ankles

4. Build that newfound range of motion and tissue capacity into something usable – like a goblet squat!

  • Grab a light kettlebell – one you could perform 10-15 repetitions with

  • Hold the kettlebell against your chest and move into a squat position as far as you can with good form

  • Stand up and repeat

  • Aim to get a little deeper with each repetition

  • You could do 2 sets, 10-15 reps if preferred – but sets and reps aren’t important, just get comfortable in that new position!

Too long to read? Here’s a summary!

1. Do a knee to wall test – note any ankle ROM (range of motion) discrepancy.

2. Get the foam roller stuck into your calves for 60-90s, make some tender points less tender.

3. Reinforce your new tissue compliance, with some dorsiflexion mobility in a half kneeling position.

4. Build your new ankle range into something useful like a squat!

(Note: there can be several causes of knee pain during physical activity – if you are concerned about your knee pain during activity, see one of our friendly osteopaths at Retrain Health)


Retrain Health is based in the Northern Rivers, NSW. From our Byron Bay and Ballina clinics, our team provides a range of quality healthcare services and products.

Retrain Health offers osteopathy, remedial massage and strength and conditioning, and PT sessions, with qualified practitioners.

If you are interested in finding out more information or would like to book an appointment, please contact the clinic by phone (02) 6680 7447, send us an email or click here to book an appointment online.

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