Knee issues, Hip mobility problems. This could be attributed to limited ankle mobility. If the ankle is lacking in movement then the next joint to rely on for range of motion is the knee joint, then the weight bearing hip joint. These joints can be put under immense pressure.
Year after year, with excessive use, these joints can be adversely affected with issues that can, firstly, damage the meniscus (cartilage in the knee designed to protect and stabilise the joint), ligaments and tendons. Then, if the knee joint is struggling with movement, the hip joint can suffer and arthritis can be brought on. In ageing years, if severely aggrevated, joint replacement is the only solution. Although a very successful operation, a very invasive one.
So, is ankle mobility the miracle cure? Who knows. In my mind, miracle cures don’t exist. But research does.
Years of scientific study has shown that the more mobile the ankle, the less pressure there is on other weight-bearing joints such as the knee and hip. This mobility will help to keep the strength and stability in the other weight-bearing joints thus keeping the joint replacement ops at bay.
If the ankle loses its range of motion over time then the pressure mounts upon the knee. The knee joint, in its entirety is designed simply to move forward and backwards (flexion, bending at the knee joint and extension, straightening the leg at the knee joint). If the knee joint is forced into a sideways movement, pressure is put onto the ligaments that give the joint rigidity.
When mobility is restricted at the ankle, for whatever reason, the knee becomes almost a pivot point putting, in some cases immense pressure on the ligaments and meniscus of the knee, risking serious damage.
Simple ankle mobility exercises can help reduces any undue stress and tension on other weight-bearing joints. Sitting down, legs straight. Move the foot, toes pointing to the sky, toes pointing forward. Keep repeating.
Ankle circles – sitting down, legs straight, rotating the foot clockwise an anti-clock. Try to imagine a light on the knee cap and the beam of light is pointing straight up with minimal, or no movement.
Kneeling on one knee, one leg out in front bent at the knee, foot flat on the floor, Keeping the front heal on the ground rock forwards and backwards, moving at the ankle joint. Keep the toes down on the front foot as you rock backwards. You may feel a gentle stretch across the front of the foot at this point of rocking. Have your hands supported on a sturdy object if the backwards movement causes a slight balance issue.
Calf raises – Legs hip distance apart, raise up onto the balls of the feet and back to the ground.A great exercise to strengthen the muscles in the lower leg which will help to support the ankle joint.
Forward lunge – Hands supported on a sturdy object if needed if balance is an issue. Simply step forward with one leg, take the back knee close as to the ground as movement permits. Repeat on the other leg.
Five simple, but very effective exercises to help increase movement and stability in the ankle joint.
So, little and often and take good care of those all important joints and they will take care of you.