Hi. I’m Dr. Eric Cobb from Z-Health Performance.
We’re continuing our work on the ankle today by focusing on plantar flexion, right, pointing my toes.
For this, you’re gonna need a chair You’re gonna need some pillows or something soft like a rolled-up towel and the floor.
This is a progression of exercises and I’ll tell you right away that for many people, some of the advanced things I’m gonna show you at the end are not appropriate.
So you’re going to work to your current comfort level and capacity.
What we’re gonna start off with is simple.
We’re just gonna begin with manual mobilizations, sit in the chair.
If you can cross your legs, you’ll start with this, begin with some of the, like, manual movements already talked about, but what we really wanna focus on is beginning to pull the toes down, getting a little bit of a stretch across the top of foot working on planar flexion.
We wanna do that in neutral with the toes pulled toward the midline of the body and the toes pulled away from the midline of body.
So we’re just gonna do a little bit of manual mobilization and massage to wake the ankle up.
From there, you’re gonna sit toward the edge of your chair and begin working on what we call seated toe pulls.
So I’m gonna take my right leg back behind me and under the chair.
I’m gonna curl my toes down.
If you are on a hard floor, this is gonna be very uncomfortable.
So put a pad down, put the pillow down, towel, something to cushion your toes.
Now, from this position, you’re just going to drive your ankle forward, trying to get into more plantar flexion. I want you to do that five to ten times.
You can come all the way out of it, extend your toes, curl your toes, and drive forward. If this is uncomfortable, decrease the intensity simply by lifting your leg a little bit.
So we can still go through the basic mobilization but with less weight on the foot. Very simple exercise, but it’s a great starting point for what we’re going to do next.
You need to do that on both feet because what we’re gonna do now is we’re gonna get rid of our chair, pull that off to the side, and we’re gonna be moving down now toward the floor.
So the ultimate position that we’re aiming for is to be able to sit into this position. our feet are folded back and we’re in strong plantar flexion, and this should be comfortable.
But for many people with ankle issues, this is not really a manageable position. So the first thing that we’re gonna do is a modification and we’re gonna take the pillows.
We’re gonna put them down and we’re gonna place our ankles over the pillows so that we have some support. And I’m gonna begin working back into the seated position.
The particularly two pillow version of this, provides a lot of comfort number one.
Number two, it decreases the amount of plantar flexion you need. I’ve had some clients in the past that literally had to start this position here.
So you just do this, like I said, in a graded fashion whatever is comfortable for you. After you’ve done two pillows, obviously, we can get rid of pillow number one. Alright?
And so now we’re doing a single pillow version. And remember, we’re trying to support the ankle itself.
You may need to do five, ten, fifteen reps. This may take you few weeks to even get to this point where you can sit here comfortably.
Ideally, you would get in this position and you would spend maybe thirty seconds to up to several minutes just allowing the foot and the tissues to relax into this planter flexed position.
Once you can be here for at least a minute, We wanna then get rid of the pillows and start working down into this position without any support.
The next iteration then is where you’re going to begin focusing on increasing plantar flexion in one foot.
The way that we’re going to do that is by lifting the knee of that foot in a marching type motion. Alright?
So I’m just gonna elevate it as I elevate it I’m gonna feel some increased stretch or tension across the top of the foot. driving me into more plantar flexion.
So from here, I can just go back and forth with each knee doing a simple marching type mechanic, and I’m getting alternating stretch in plantar flexion on both sides.
The final real iteration of this is to now elevate the toes. If I elevate the toes, it’s gonna drive me into even more plantar flexion. So I go back to my single pillow.
Now instead of placing the pillow underneath my ankle, I’m gonna place the pillow underneath my toes. And now as I sit back, it’s gonna drive me into even deeper plantar flexion.
This again may take weeks or months for people to progress too, so don’t rush it.
There’s no reason to make yourself uncomfortable. but now you have this progression. And once I’m here, if I need even more, I can go back into my small marching motions. This is a fantastic progression to work toward a more comfortable plantar flexed ankle. Now, this would need to be followed up eventually with active movements.
Right now, this is more of a passive type of activity. unless you’re adding the marching in.
When you add the marching in, you’re doing something a little bit more active.
But once you’re comfortable here, and you’ve achieved these different positions make sure that you then begin including some more stairwork, calf raises, some jumping exercises depending on your level of conditioning so that we can take this new range of motion that you’ve gained and apply it in movement.
Hopefully, this is fantastic for you, helps reduce any tension or pain you’re experiencing.
Let us know in the comments. Thanks.