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HOW CAN LIMITED ANKLE MOBILITY AFFECT MY GAIT?

Several mechanical factors have the potential to impact your gait cycle, but in this blog, I will specifically address the effects of restricted ankle dorsiflexion (refers to upward movement of the foot towards the shin). Limited ankle dorsiflexion (as shown above) can significantly impact our gait and other exercises such as squatting and lunging. Here's how limited ankle dorsiflexion can influence your gait:

  • REDUCED STRIDE LENGTH: Can restrict the foot's ability to lift off the ground during the swing phase of gait. This can result in a shorter stride length, affecting the overall efficiency and speed of walking.

  • ALTERED FOOT PLACEMENT: Can lead to compensatory movements, such as lifting the foot less during the swing phase or adopting a toe-first landing. This alters the normal foot placement and may increase the risk of tripping during walking.

  • COMPROMISED HEEL STRIKE: Adequate dorsiflexion is essential for proper heel strike at the beginning of the stance phase. Limited dorsiflexion may force the individual to adopt a more flat-footed or toe-strike movement pattern, potentially leading to an abnormal gait pattern.

  • INCREASED KNEE FLEXION: To compensate for limited ankle dorsiflexion, individuals may exhibit increased knee flexion during the swing phase. This compensation can alter the normal biomechanics of the lower limb and contribute to an inefficient gait pattern.

  • INCREASED ENERGY USE: Individuals with limited ankle dorsiflexion may expend more energy during walking due to compensatory movements and altered biomechanics. This increased effort can lead to fatigue and discomfort that is more noticeable when walking long distance.

  • IMPAIRED BALANCE: Proper ankle dorsiflexion is crucial for maintaining balance and coordination during walking. Limited dorsiflexion can compromise stability, especially when navigating uneven surfaces or making quick changes in direction.

  • JOINT STRESS: Compensatory movements associated with limited dorsiflexion may lead to increased stress on other joints, such as the knee and hip. Over time, this could contribute to joint discomfort and potential long-term issues.

HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY ANKLE MOBILITY? 

Addressing limited ankle dorsiflexion through targeted exercises and interventions, such as stretching, strengthening and mobilisation routines, can help improve gait mechanics and reduce associated complications. Check out the video below on some helpful tips to improve ankle mobility. PLEASE NOTE: Always remember to work within your own physical limits and comfort levels to avoid injury.

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