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What we’ll cover
  1. What causes ankle stiffness?
  2. Why is ankle mobility important?
  3. How to assess for ankle stiffness?

Ankle stiffness

Ankle stiffness is a common complaint that occurs in a large proportion of the population. It is a common symptom in poorly managed ankle sprains as well as common foot conditions such as osteoarthritis, plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinitis. In some cases, ankle stiffness can be a by product of the condition whilst in some cases a stiff ankle can be the primary cause. The ankle traditionally loses mobility in two directions. Plantar flexion (toes down towards floor) or dorsiflexion (toes up towards the ceiling). In this article, our physiotherapist Jason Lee identifies how to improve dorsiflexion.

What causes ankle stiffness?

There are a number of structures that can limit dorsiflexion of the ankle. This can usually be attributed to one or more of either muscles, joint-related or bone-related.
If the ankle is reduced by muscle, it is commonly causes by tightness and reduced flexibility of the calf muscles.
Joint related stiffness is common following a period where the ankle hasn’t been used normally. This can occur following an ankle sprain or any time the ankle has been immobilised or reduce movement for a period of time.
Bone-related changes include conditions such as osteoarthritis or bone spurs can physically limit ankle mobility.

Why is ankle mobility important?

Ankle dorsiflexion mobility is crucial for almost anything that we do when our feet are on the ground. Dorsiflexion is crucial for a number of day to day tasks from walking, getting out of a chair through to going up and down stairs.
During the walking cycle, dorsiflexion is critical for the mid stance phase when the opposite leg is swinging through. Without enough dorsiflexion, more force and stress is placed on other structures including the hip and knee due to the compensation pattern.

How to assess for ankle stiffness?

The knee to wall test is a simple way to measure your ankle flexibility.

In order to perform the test, set yourself up in  front of a wall. The aim is to assess the maximum distance between the wall and your toes when you lunge forwards allowing your knee to touch the the wall. Record the distance on one side and compare the difference between left and right. Whilst ankle flexibility may vary from person to person, the distance should be within 10% of left and right.

Additionally, depending where you feel it on the knee to wall can be a good indication of what may be restricting your ankle flexibility. If you feel mainly restricted at the back of the ankle, it is likely that muscles are restricting your ankle flexibility. If you notice it mainly at the front or middle of the ankle, it is likely that your ankle stiffness is related to either the joint or bone.

If you are experiencing a stiff ankle, be sure to see your physiotherapist. Book online or call our friendly team today.


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Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone. Shoulder impingement can be incredibly frustrating and painful. 

Tony has been working closely with our physiotherapists Vernon and Dilen to get on top of his shoulder pain. His treatment plan has included hands-on physiotherapy and individualised exercises in our hydrotherapy and strength programs.

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