Ankle Mobility- Can It Affect Running Performance?

Running, Ankle, Blog, / By Koh Peh Chia

We have seen many runners complaining ankle pain and injuries. Tight inflexible ankles are commonly seen amongst runners. With the limited foot and ankle mobility, it can become a cause of various running injuries. Today we are going to talk about how ankle mobility can affect running performance and what exercises we can do to help with.


What is Ankle Mobility?

Ankle mobility refers to the ankle joint flexibility and its surrounding muscles and tendons. When your ankle is flexible, you have a greater range of motion during your activities.

Why Ankle Mobility Are Important in Running?

Ankle mobility helps in absorbing shock as you land. Thus, the limited ankle mobility will cause extra force to be transmitted to knees, hips, and even spine. Furthermore, healthy, and mobile ankles will positively contribute to the transmission of force during the push-off phase which certainly help in improving your running performance.


How do stiff ankles affect running?

Tight, inflexible muscles will restrict and resist joint movement. Ankles can lose mobility as we age, through lack of use, and as a result of injury, even after that injury (e.g. sprain) has healed. As a result, it can reduce running performance as well as lead to injuries like plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis and even hip pain.

Stiff ankles will also increase the impact with every step while landing and do a poorer action of absorbing impact and generating force. Therefore, it can contribute to a higher injury risk and worse running performance.


What can I do to improve Ankle mobility ?

Below are some ankle exercises which can help in your running performance:

Ankle circles

Put a rolled towel or foam roller under your ankle. Turn your ankle slowly in circles, clockwise 10 circles and counterclockwise 10 circles. You may try to trace out the letters of the alphabet with your big toe. 


Rolling calf and feet 

Use a foam roller or tennis or golf ball to roll out the feet and ankles for above 30 seconds on each foot.


Walking lunges

Step forward with one leg and bend that knee at a 90-degree angle. At the same time, lower the back knee to the ground. Your thigh should be almost parallel to the ground. Hold the position for a few seconds. Then take a step forward with your back leg, and repeat the lunge leading with this leg. Work up to 10-15 lunges per leg.


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