Have you played a lot of sports?
Do you wear high heels?
If so, how do you think your ankles are doing?
I have found that most of the people who I train tend to lack ankle mobility. This can be the first kink in the movement chain, and lead to further issues within the whole body. Ankle mobility issues can lead to knee, hip, and even shoulder mobility issues. These issues can also travel down that same path from shoulder to ankle. To find out what is ultimately causing the use, see your doctor and/or be screened by someone who is FMS certified. If you have pain, see your doctor first to be cleared.
The following is a quick ankle mobility series that we use in our gym. Everyone who trains with me has been screened with the FMS/SFMA and if they have pain have been evaluated by their doctor.
I don’t show it in the video below, but everything starts with diaphragmatic breathing. We will typically breathe for a couple minutes to transition from work/life stress so we can train mindfully.
We start out by foam rolling the shin area. We work the anterior tibialis, the band of muscle on the outside of the shin. We are using small strokes to locate areas that are tender or tight. We then will make several passes over that area.
Next, we roll out our calves. While it is possible to do that with the foam roller, I like The Stick for this. It allows for adjustable tension on the calf, and requires less force to work on any trigger points/tender areas. I tell my students to only use about 7-10lb of force while rolling. If The Stick looks like a horseshoe, you are using too much force.
Then, we move onto direct ankle work. There are two different versions on the video. The first version—the field expedient manner—requires no equipment. It is performed in a half-kneeling stance. If the right knee is up, take your right hand and cup the right heel. The left hand will cover the toes. The goal is to keep your heel planted as you progress through the motion. Utilizing diaphragmatic breathing, apply some pressure on your right knee with the right elbow as you move back and forth through the movement. I find the normal rep range for the best results is about 10 reps per side. Perform this on both sides.
The second version is very similar except that you are using a stick and moving the knee to the outside of it. You only go as far as you can while still keeping your heel flat on the ground.
The last movement is the heel sit. Sit back on your heels with a little bit of a backwards lean. Tighten your thighs and think about driving your shins into the ground, then relax. You should feel your feet flatten out as you perform 3-5 reps of this sequence.