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The Role of Stability and Mobility in the Ankle

Ankle range of motion and ankle stability often are trained separately.  While they seem independent and opposite of each other, they are both needed to reach peak performance. Many athletes do not work on ankle range of motion unless they experience an injury to the lower extremity and, often, ankle stability is expected of the athlete to already have after a certain age.  Stability of the ankle should not limit the range of motion; stability allows the athlete to strongly balance on different surfaces with forces acting upon them while performing the proper technique with the required range of motion at the joint.

             The four directions an ankle should move in are dorsiflexion, plantarflexion, eversion, and inversion. Without the full range of motion through dorsiflexion and plantarflexion athletes cannot generate their full speed in running, will not be able to squat correctly nor as deeply, and will not jump to their highest potential. Ankle eversion and inversion allow athletes to control a variety of movements in different sports, for example kicking in soccer. These four range of motions by the ankle also need the strength to not “roll” when playing surfaces become uneven or upon landing jumps. Especially with the need of single leg power, strength, and control in all sports, the ankle’s stability and range of motion are very important to continue training with athletes at all levels. 

Amanda Kasten is a certified Athletic Trainer at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Lake Forest, California and a former World Champion Competitive Cheerleader.