Often, people assume hip and knee pain begin and end in those respective joints. While this can be the case, the truth is the ankle may also have a say in the matter. In my practice, I often see gait deviations, IT band issues, patellofemoral pain and many other issues related to ankle stiffness or soleus issues.

In assessing athletes, runners and weekend warriors, I often pick up asymmetries when measuring closed chain ankle dorsiflexion. I have even observed people who have active dorsiflexion within normal limits while seated on a treatment table, but once they become weight bearing things change. Even small differences can dramatically affect the body as the brain will find a way to get the motion it needs to squat, run, lunge, etc.

This often involves a compensatory pattern at the knee and/or hip joint. So, to that end, I recommend several strategies to improve mobility. I am currently doing a three part series on this for PFP magazine to provide some effective exercises to improve ankle and soleus mobility. Click here to read the latest column.

Below is a sample video of the wall touches I use to improve ankle motion after mobilizing the soft tissue.

Typically, I advocate doing 1-2 sets 10-15 repetitions.  Using the wall allows clients to have tactile feedback and a target to focus on.  This is a simple, yet effective way to gain motion in a loaded closed chain fashion as the hip, knee and ankle flex together in running, landing, squatting, lunging, etc.

If you are curious how I assess side-to-side differences, click here to read my initial column on assessment.  I hope these tools enhance your training and/or those you work with.