Hi, Dr. Eric Cobb of Z-Health Performance. And today, we’re continuing our discussion about ankle rehabilitation.
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So last week, we talked about the ankle. We started off with some passive mobilizations, things that you can do at home to begin reminding that your brain, that you have an ankle, that it has a lot of bones and joints that are supposed to move and be comfortable. So we started off with the passive movements.
Now what we wanna do is move on to some very basic active range of motion exercises Now when I say basic, please don’t assume that you don’t need these.
If you have chronic foot or ankle issues, it is highly likely that there are some motor control problems in your foot that we may need to remedy utilizing some intentional high repetition movement practice.
So the things that we’re gonna focus on are very simple conceptually, but you may find them fatiguing.
So the first thing that we’re gonna do is begin with what’s called Dorsiflexion and Plantar Flexion. Alright.
Really, really simple idea. I’m gonna try and keep my toes relatively relaxed.
Pull my foot and ankle up toward my knee, that’s Dorsiflexion point down toward the ground, plantar flexion.
So I want you to do probably between thirty and forty repetitions of this.
If you have ankle issues, you may find that after 10 repetitions, you’re getting really tired.
But these are supposed to be high repetition exercises to practice movement in a non-loaded way, also to increase blood flow there.
So we wanna try to get into that 30-50 repetition range. Now after we have done basic ankle planter flexion and Dorsiflexion, we’re gonna go to a relatively neutral position and we’re gonna do the same thing with our toes.
We’re going to flex our toes. So, toe flexion and toe extension. Toe flexion, toe extension. Alright.
And once again, we’re gonna try to do some high repetition work just in that position. Now what we wanna do is begin combining those. So I’m gonna begin, I’m going to dorsiflex, extend my toes. Planter flex, flex my toes. Dorsiflex, extend, planter flex, and flex. Very simple. Now I’m gonna reverse that. I’m gonna dorsiflex but flex my toes. Planter flex the ankle, extend the toes.
So I have two different versions of things that I’m working here. And remember, we’re focusing not just on movement, but also will your foot obey commands being sent by your brain. This is why it’s important to do some differentiation between the ankle and what’s going on with the toes. After we have done that, we now want to begin working on ankle inversion and eversion. So I’m basically now tilting my foot in, tilting my foot out. So once again, 30-50 repetitions here.
I’m then going to repeat that in full dorsiflexion, which is gonna be challenging. You may get some pulling through your calf. and then also full plantar flexion inverting and everting.
This is a little bit harder to control because it’s a movement most of us are not as familiar with. Once I’ve done all that, I want to include the toes. So now, I’m going to do this. I’m going to Dorsiflex. I’m going to evert and extend my toes. Alright? So again, Dorsiflex, evert, extend my toes. So I’m now grouping three different things together.
Now from here, I can stay in that position plantar flex, flex the toes. Extend the toes. extend the ankle.
Now I’m gonna invert and once again, flex the toes, plantar flex the ankle. So you now have a lot of different combinations that you can begin to play with.
Most likely, what you’ll find is that when you’re in an inverted position with toe flexion and going into planar flexion you may get cramping in your foot.
You may find that one of the positions feels like you can’t move at all. That’s all very normal because most of us do not spend a lot of time consciously focusing on controlling our feet, which is problematic because it’s what allows us to move around the world for the vast majority of the population.
So I’m gonna recommend that in each of these iterations or each of these versions of the exercise that you start working up toward 30-50 repetitions of each of those movements. I do not recommend that you do them all at the same time.
This is something that you can put a timer on your phone every hour of the day and do one iteration of these exercises.
What you’ll find very quickly is that within 1-2 weeks, you will be able to control your ankle and foot movements with far more precision than you probably have ever experienced.
And because we are causing the brain and body to communicate much more intensely, This is often one of the best things that you can do to really start to reduce pain, improve mobility and performance in the ankle and foot.
So It seems simple. It’s just movement, but it’s very powerful. So give it a shot and let us know how it works for you.